The Ghastly Similarities between ‘Persona’ and ‘Frankenstein’

Watch the opening of Ingmar Bergman’s film remade with imagery from different takes on Mary Shelley’s classic monster story.
Persona and Frankenstein
By  · Published on March 23rd, 2017

This video might be a year old, but it’s a new favorite for me, combining two of my favorite films of all-time: Ingmar Bergman’s Persona from 1966 and Frankenstein.

It seems that while he was conjuring the idea for his 27th film, Bergman was hospitalized. It was there, in the grips of a fever dream, that he conceived the opening of Persona, complete with lifeless bodies under white sheets and other such horror iconography, religious references, and even the metaphorical transfer of life via a flickering projector. Sound familiar?

The fine folks at Filmscalpel thought so too, so they whipped up this nifty video that recreates the opening of Persona utilizing only clips from various Frankenstein movies, and I have to say, it is eerily congruent with Bergman’s opening, as evidenced by the placing of said opening side-by-side with the recreated one.

While the video only deals with the visual qualities of Persona’s first scenes, it got me to thinking about narrative commonalities shared by the projects, as well, including the search for identity, disastrous co-dependence, and the urge to make a life (in Persona metaphorically) out of nothing. Was Bergman seeking to make his own version of Frankenstein with Persona? Likely not, but having spent time with this video, it seems impossible Mary Shelley’s monstrous novel was far from his mind.

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