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Ingmar Bergman's Persona

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Autor:   •  November 1, 2010  •  950 Words (4 Pages)  •  581 Views

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What different masks do you wear that both reveal and conceal?

In Ingmar Bergman's masterpiece, Persona, the character played by Liv Ullmann, Elisabeth and the nurse, Alma, played by Bibi Andersson are one and the same person. They are "split" when the actress does not want to act any more, and retires to her own self. The term "does not want to act" depicts two things: firstly, she does not want to act as a job, and secondly, in a more distant, but more appropriate interpretation, she does not want to act to the outside world. The nurse is nothing more than the outside appearance of the same person--this is why Mr. Vogler recognizes her (and not Elisabeth) as Mrs. Vogler. Elisabeth is the inner self of the same person: she is a quiet, strong personality. This interpretation is suggested by the director when the two half-faces of the nurse and Elisabeth are put together into one picture, one face.

Bergman appropriately chose the title, Persona which is the Greek word for mask and also signifies the social faÐ*ade that one portrays in public, or image. In the film, the lines between the persona of Alma and Elisabeth are blurred or overlap, and are possibly one in the same.

The aforementioned theme hit close to home as I was watching the film because sometimes I feel that I am comprised of and reflect multiple personas. I initially pondered if I should seek therapy, but after realizing that this is a central theme in many novels and films, I have become to feel less alienated and accepted that this is mere human nature. I cannot exactly pinpoint how many different "masks" I wear, as some are slight variations of the same mask, but I will discuss a few in detail:

Mask #1: The Parental Mask

I wear this mask when I go home to visit the parental units and relatives, specifically on holidays and family functions. This mask enables me to become a perfect angel who always says "please and thank you." Magically, it facilitates me to limit my intake of alcoholic beverages to one, become the representative for all honor roll college students, and know exactly where I am going with my five-year plan. While wearing this mask, my vernacular mirrors a Harvard graduate and/or nun and fails to mention the hedonism and debauchery that typical San Diego weekends bring to me when this mask is put away.

Mask #2: The School Mask

When wearing this mask, with complementing iPod headphones that come off while in class, the world sees me as quiet, antisocial, opinionated, hard-working, and motivated. While on campus, this mask allows me to go straight to class and take care of business and go home, no bullshitting. I do not care to make friends, chatter, or hang out on campus while wearing this mask. I have a job to do here, and that job is to excel in my classes. The driest and loneliest mask of all, it has worked for me thus far.

Mask #3: The Work Mask

The Work Mask has some of the traits of the School Mask, but rather than dry and anti-social, this mask is warm and friendly. I work in a people-oriented


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