Liv Ullmann plays a stage actor who has inexplicably gone mute; an equally mesmerizing Bibi Andersson is the garrulous young nurse caring for her in a remote island cottage. While isolated together there, the women undergo a mysterious spiritual and emotional transference.
I had the chance to rewatched this film during the lockdown and I can’t stop thinking about its powerful, timeless representation of the existential condition. Persona is about the lifelong, strenuous, fearful, painful search for an understanding of who we are, of what identity means both in our relation to ourselves and to the other. Berman’s masterpiece seems to remember us, today more than ever, the unknowability of the depths of the human being — its overflowing nature beyond the boundaries of what we call the body, of what we call the mind — and the complexity of language in its many different forms. The iridescent and powerful performances from Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson embody the internal struggle of the human being who is, at the same time, actor, director, spectator, victim and executioner. The film reveals the cruel and tender core of human destiny, where the female quality is decisive in shaping the endless, simultaneously reasonable and absurd, search for inexistent truths (as well as our awareness of this non-existence) beyond material reality.
Bibi Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Margaretha Krook, Gunnar Björnstrand, Jörgen Lindström