Wednesday, March 1, 2017

      Persona (shot on Faro in Gotland)

To understand why, it may help to know that in 1967, as strange as it now sounds given the work that was still to come, many cinephiles thought Bergman was, at 48, over the hill. He had been America’s great foreign-film discovery a decade earlier, and initially every one of his new movies released stateside—Smiles of a Summer Night, Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal—was a conversation piece and a hit. But in the early 1960s, his work had taken a turn toward the impenetrable and austere. Three thematically linked movies that Bergman himself sometimes claimed and sometimes denied constituted a trilogy—the Oscar-winning Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and The Silence—alienated moviegoers, and critical acclaim started to mix with dissent and weariness from some who saw him as a joyless, punitive obscurantist. By the time Persona arrived it had been almost three years since American audiences had seen a Bergman film, and even he seemed to know he was suddenly an elder statesman, the victim of a shift in the conversation. “What have you heard of the new Fellini?” he asked a reporter. “What is Truffaut planning? How is the new Godard?”