This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
hunter livingston’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
do not grammar check me. these are random thoughts my brain was running through once the film ended
i don’t know if i will ever entirely understand persona, and if i do, it could never be within one sitting as there are too many elements to unpack at once imo. i think in some ways, bergman is trying to explore what art is, specifically film, in the way that film is fake: constructed worlds, written characters with pre-determined fates. through this, he’s examining what it means to be genuine. elisabet is constantly said to be “playing a part”, (whether it be on stage, being a wife, being a mother, simply being) and her silence is a rejection of her life. she laughs on stage because she finds it absurd that she is acting, on a stage, in a theater, with an audience. an existential crisis??
it's almost shocking how elisabet laughs at alma following the boiling water threat. alma asks elisabeth if she felt genuine fear, a genuine fear of death and elisabet proceeds by laughing. she can’t believe she is experiencing such a strong emotional reaction, (surely things like this only happen to actors in movies?) i feel like that laugh is almost significant in identifying that the worlds artists create are separate than what we know as real life. elisabet is excited by the fear because she is in real danger, it isn’t fake! super off topic but this reminded me of when an interviewer asked tarantino about gratuitous violence in his films and he replied with something like, “real life violence is real life violence. movies are movies."
maybe elisabet is so wrapped up in her craft that she’s having a hard time distinguishing her responsibility as an artist and responsibility as a person, a human, living on a godless planet - alma reads a passage from a book that emphasizes the anxieties humans feel and the need for otherworldly salvation.
perhaps elisabet doesn't understand true human empathy or compassion but instead regards it as material to be used for art? which itself is a reflection of life?
also, the beginning of the film, the prologue i guess, plays as sort of an introduction to Film: animation, comedy, horror, the film reel rotates and then Persona begins. And then at the end of the film, we see bergman’s crew on the beach...