Persona Review

I have always had a feud with movies which thrive on metaphorical images to derive meaning to the narrative. Cinema is a layman’s art form and I firmly believe that every individual who walks into the cinema hall should walk out of it a little changed in terms of his persona. The viewing experience should induce in him emotions of any kind such that the man who walks out of the cinema hall should be more human in nature than the man who walked in.

I have always found that the movies which base the essence of their narratives on metaphorical images evade such experiences to the viewer. If the viewer is unable to comprehend their meanings, he/she walks out of the cinema hall with plain frustration and nothing else. And if the viewer does succeed in comprehending their meanings with repeated viewings, then I believe he/she experiences only admiration towards the artistry of the story-telling process. But none of the emotions surface in the viewer in any of these repeated viewings. It is no different from a student trying to comprehend the working of an electromagnetic field. It is an experience which involves only an attempt for comprehension, leaving no space for emotions.

Metaphors if used for enhancing the effect of storytelling work wonders. Take the scorpion on the back of the Driver’s jacket in Nicolas Refn’s Drive or the rain of frogs in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia. Magnolia had a tremendous emotional impact on me without any comprehension of the rain of frogs, but the understanding of that sequence further added to my love of the film. But that doesn’t mean my first viewing experience was destroyed by my incomprehension of that salient sequence.

This is where movies like Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy, and the movie in question, Ingmar Bergman’s Persona fail artistically in my humble opinion. Although my writing may give the impression that I have no explanation of the events that transpired in Persona, it is quite the opposite. In my analysis, Elisabeth Vogler is a method actress and Sister Alma is the character she is bound to play in her next performance. However, when perfecting the emotions and persona of Alma, she finds in the character a reflection of the troubles of her own personal self, such as her conflict with motherhood and devotion to her profession. However, she overcomes these hurdles as the movie progresses, which seems to be the reason I attribute to her smiling at tense conflicts.

But what fun is such a movie which is nothing more than a jigsaw puzzle at its best ? I cannot imagine watching it again after I have come up with a sensible explanation about the events in the movie. What is art if not for the emotions it invokes ? Persona is a failure as a movie for it fails it evoke none.

RATING :- 3.9 / 10