Art Cinema Characteristics in Persona

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Kyle Keitz
Professor Mullens
Film 221
March 5, 2013

Art Cinema Characteristics in Persona

According to David Bordwell’s research, Hollywood had a basic outline on how they made their films. The classical narrative cinema follows narrative structure, cinematic style, and spectatorial activity. In Classical Hollywood Cinema there is usually a psychologically defined, goal oriented character that’s easy to like. Foreign countries had a different way of making film, post WWII, Europe reestablished their facilitated film export and coproduction. Since the U.S. was exhibiting film in other countries it gave those foreign countries a chance to make film for international audiences. The neorealist films may be considered the first postwar versions of art cinema. Most of these films were made by New Wave film directors, Fellini, Resnais, Bergman, De Sica, Kurosawa, Pasolini, etc. The Stylistic Devices and Thematic Motifs seem to differ between these directors but the overall functions of style and theme seem to remain constant in Art Cinema. Art Cinema is the exact opposite of the classical narrative cinema and it avoids the cause and effect linkage of events throughout a film. The characteristics of Art Cinema are easy to follow; it gives a realistic setting since most of these films are shot on location without the use of “sets”. Things may occur in the film for no apparent reason and it may never be explained at all in the film. Most of all Art Cinema uses psychologically complex characters that don’t seem to have clear traits or objectives. Some characters just question their objectives and at times they may even be alienated. Every film in this era can be analyzed in a different way; some you should look at literally and some you should think deeply about. In Persona it seems to be easy enough to analyze by taking what is being shown to you literally. This film seems to contain complex and somewhat alienated characters, realistic settings, some random scenes that are hard to decipher, and there are some constant reminders that it is just a film and not reality.

Persona directed by Ingmar Bergman consists of two main actresses Alma (Bibi Andersson) and Elisabeth Vogler (Liv Ullmann). This film isn’t too difficult to analyze if you don’t read too deeply into it. Everything seems to be clear enough and it’s easy to place each sequence into a category. By category, meaning dream sequences, false reality sequences, and the real sequences that are actually happening. The dream sequences may not make any sense at all but it is easy enough to tell that it is in fact not real and that it is just a transitional shot that is used throughout the film. The most interesting point in this film was the two main characters.

The two characters in this film seemed to be completely opposite each other at first. While Alma was always talking and emptying her feelings Elisabeth was always listening. Since these two live together they eventually start to merge almost into one person. Bergman eventually uses a scene to superimpose one of their faces over the other to show the resemblance, it was a somewhat frightening scene that confused me. This is another sequence that can be taken in numerous amounts of ways. But it was used in a weird time and in a weird context so I believe that in this scene it is safe to say that it was only a “false reality” scene that is supposed to reference to the fact the two characters are basically the same person. These two characters also seem to have their own hidden mysteries also and they are never really resolved either. Aforementioned, art cinema doesn’t need to explain any motives.

There is something that is never clearly stated in the film, why does Elisabeth decide to be mute? There are multiple assumptions from different characters, Alma uses this as a way to insult her after reading the unsealed doctors note, and tells her that she is silent because of the fact...
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