Persona ★★★★★

What to write about one of the most written about films in cinema history? To attempt to describe what Ingmar Bergman's Persona is about, I mean really about, is like trying to scoop up fog in your hands. Each time I revisit it, every two or three years or so, I peel away its mask and glimpse something different.

Persona was a seminal film experience for me. I had only recently started to approach cinema seriously and had tackled a few important directors and their works. During my explorations I had seen the title Persona mentioned frequently, but I had until then veered away from it. No particular reason comes to mind. One day I simply jumped into the deep end, so to speak, and decided to watch what would be my first Bergman movie (those who are familiar with his work know it isn't exactly his most accessible film). Luckily I discovered I could swim.

It had a profound effect on me. I realised then, what many people must have realised in 1966, what film as a medium could do. Many other films that I had seen previously and had not been equipped to think about, for instance, Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive, suddenly fell into place in my mind. Persona and Bergman led me to Tarkovsky, to Fellini, to Ozu, to Powell & Pressburger, etc, and many other favourites.

Watching Persona now, newly released by Criterion on Blu-ray, is a treat because it looks absolutely stunning. I will be coming back to this one again and again.

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