Persona: Ingmar Bergman and Andrei Tarkovsky

Bergman’s Persona is undeniably an outstanding work of art: this movie makes you feel, think, and contemplate. After watching it, I found myself contemplating for a long time… about how we relate to others and the world, about the true nature of yourself and the plasticity of your persona… or maybe it is your true self that is flexible?…

Before too long, I found myself recalling the line from Tarkovsky’s Stalker: “Hardness and strength are death’s companions. Flexibility and softness are the embodiment of life. That which has become hard will not triumph.” Professor Borg’s personal journey in Bergman’s Wild Strawberries also came to mind.

What is strength, and what is weakness?… Do we get harder or softer as we move through life?…

To me, both Bergman and Tarkovsky evoke similar feelings, but, quoting Bergman himself: “My discovery of Tarkovsky’s first film was like a miracle. Suddenly, I found myself standing at the door of a room the keys of which had, until then, never been given to me. It was a room I had always wanted to enter and where he was moving freely and fully at ease. I felt encouraged and stimulated: someone was expressing what I had always wanted to say without knowing how. Tarkovsky is for me the greatest, the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.” I agree, Bergman’s Persona feels somewhat crude compared to Tarkovsky’s later works, but it was created before Mirror, Solaris, Stalker, Nostalgia, and The Sacrifice, and Tarkovsky admired it. In the end, Persona is an impressive artistic achievement with an epic impact on many, including Tarkovsky.

The image is from the YouTube channel by Gabriel Gomez.