As we enjoyed the mildest January on record in the Northwest, it is now time for February, for Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, and the fun of screening the TFC film picks. This Friday, February 5, 2010, we are screening Ingmar Bergman’s PERSONA (1966). Bergman considered PERSONA one of his two best films, and he completed 63 of them since 1946. He died in 2007 at 89 years old. TIME magazine in 2005 had named him “the world’s greatest living filmmaker.” This is the first film of his that the Club has picked and will screen. PERSONA was his 33rd film as writer/director. Many of his films are always picked as classics. One day we will watch more of them, like SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT (1955), THE SEVENTH SEAL (1957), WILD STRAWBERRIES (1957), THE VIRGIN SPRING (1960), THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY (1961), WINTER LIGHT (1963), THE SILENCE (1963), SHAME (1968), THE PASSION OF ANNA (1969), CRIES & WHISPERS (1972), SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE (1973), and FANNY & ALEXANDER (1982).
Ingmar Bergman said: “Film as dream. Film as art. No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight room of our soul.” He called Orson Welles “a fake” and “a pretentious bad actor”, called CITIZEN KANE “overrated, boring, full of worthless performances.”
“I write scripts to serve as skeletons awaiting the flesh and sinew of images.”
Bibi Anderson played Alma, the nurse. She has had an almost 60 year film career, appearing in 98 films since 1951. She met Bergman while he was still a theater director, and worked with him. When she did PERSONA , she had already appeared in 4 of Bergman’s films, and over 30 others. She ultimately made 13 films with Bergman, and like many others had a romantic relationship with him early on.
Liv Ullman who played the actress Elizabeth, began appearing in films in 1957. PERSONA was her 6th film. She did appear in 10 of his films during her career, including his last feature film, SARABAND (2003).
In VARIETY we read: Bibi Andersson’s distraught, knowing, naive, helpful and then resentful performance of the nurse is a tour-de-force, and Liv Ullmann has the right luminous, questioning and sometimes impenetrable face and projection for the part of the beauteous but mute actress. At the end their faces photographically fuse.
PERSONA (1966) Directed by Ingmar Bergman @ 83 minutes.
The film stars Bibi Anderson, Liv Ullmann, and Gunnar Bjornstrand.
Synopsis: A personal existential statement by Bergman, on the surface we have the story of a celebrated actress, Elizabeth, who goes mute in the middle of performance of ELECTRA. She retreats into silence, shutting out communication with the external world; perhaps rejecting its horrors. Her psychiatrist loans her a seaside cottage for the summer, and a nurse, Alma, to accompany and attend her. Perhaps what we think we know about others is a reflection of what we ourselves project upon them. Individuals, like film itself, can be interpreted in infinite ways. Tagline: One of the ten best films of our time. Roger Ebert wrote, “Most of what we think of as “ourselves” is not direct experience of the world, but a mental broadcast made up of ideas, memories, media input, other people, jobs, roles, duties, lust, hopes, and fears. Elizabeth chooses to be who she is. Alma is not strong enough to choose not to be Elizabeth.”
The Doctor: I understand, all right. The hopeless dream of being – not seeming, but being. At every waking moment, alert. The gulf between what you are with others and what you are alone. The vertigo and the constant hunger to be exposed, to be seen through, perhaps even wiped out. Every inflection and every gesture a lie, every smile a grimace. Suicide? No, too vulgar. But you can refuse to move, refuse to talk, so that you don’t have to lie. You can shut yourself in. Then you needn’t play any parts or make wrong gestures. Or so you thought. But reality is diabolical. Your hiding place isn’t watertight. Life trickles in from the outside, and you’re forced to react. No one asks if it is true or false, if you’re genuine or just a sham. Such things matter only in the theatre, and hardly there either. I understand why you don’t speak, why you don’t move, why you’ve created a part for yourself out of apathy. I understand. I admire. You should go on with this part until it is played out, until it loses interest for you. Then you can leave it, just as you’ve left your other parts one by one.
So join us this Friday, February 5, 2010 at the Center for Spiritual Learning, at 206 North J Street, on the corner of Division and J streets in Tacoma. Arrive around 6pm, and come downstairs to the kitchen area, and join in the fellowship, visiting and eating. The Phantom Director and Farishta will serve up a wonderfully creative meal around 6:15pm. Anyone who wants to can augment the entre with wine, bread, cheese, or desserts. We will have our raffle for those who want to partake, the winners receiving 40% of the cash gathered, or a fine DVD. For many this time for sharing, comparing, debating, laughing, and eating—breaking bread and ideas with each other, has become a valuable and sought after experience. It does heighten the sense of belonging, of being a part of something special. See you at the movies!