You ever seen an interview with a newlywed Christian couple who talk about how glad they are that they “waited” until their wedding night? That’s me and waiting to see Persona in a movie house. I attempted to see this at the NYU film library freshman year (perhaps it was former film librarian John Schmit who queued it up for me?) but the VHS copy was so washed that I hap to stopp after 10 minutes — I couldn’t read the white-on-white subtitles. Perusing reviews of Persona online it is remarkable how many people compare its experience to one of a novel. I don’t diagree that its visceral, empathetic effect is similar to kind usually reserved for literature, but what’s neat is how the technique used to achieve this is 100% cinema. Persona is the high watermark of mid–60s modernism, in its psychology, its fashion, its music, its editing, its hairstyles, its title design, you name it. Yet, strangely, it doesn’t look dated (So long as Calvin Klein advertises, that is.) Some moments in the film may make you wince with a knowing “WTF?” but those (few) moments only seem indulgent because an innovator like Bergman used them spariningly in 1966 only to be copied again and again throughout the rest of cinema’s history. Anyway, if Film Forum was showing Persona again this week, I’d be going.
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