Features and Columns · Movies

Fade Into You: The Psychological Reckoning of Ingmar Bergman’s ‘Persona’

‘Persona’ isn’t just a masterpiece. It’s a psychological breakthrough.
Persona Ingmar Bergman
By  · Published on November 25th, 2020

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video that contextualizes the importance of ‘Persona’ in the career of Ingmar Bergman.


Cinema in the 1960s was a rug pull. A combination of factors, chiefly counterculture movements and post-war disillusionment, prompted filmmakers to push against convention. The result was an international movement that began to experiment with the accepted rules of cinematic grammar.

Reckoning with the economic and moral upheaval of World War II, Italian Neorealists filmed on-location and foregrounded non-professional actors. French New Wave directors like Jean-Luc Godard and Éric Rohmer intentionally pushed against expectations of invisible filmmaking. And in Hollywood, Westerns began to criticize their own narratives of hero-worship and pivot to a morally ambiguous territory.

And then there’s Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman, whose own shift would take the shape of 1966’s Persona, a film that is at once confounding and one of Bergman’s most intimate projects. The film follows two women, a young nurse named Alma (Bibi Andersson) and Elizabet (Liv Ullmann), the mute actress in her care. As the pair spend more and more time together, the line between the genuine and the affected begins to blur and their personalities begin to collapse.

As the video essay below details, before Persona, Bergman was primarily known for weighty existential dramas that generally adhered to traditional storytelling techniques. Like many of its boundary-pushing peers, Persona intentionally draws attention to the art of filmmaking itself. The result is a dichotomous and ultimately uncanny viewing experience; a naturalism, fractured by the artificiality of cinema.

Watch “Persona | Ingmar Bergman’s Psychological Breakthrough”:

Who made this?

This video essay comes courtesy of The Discarded Image, a video series created by Julian Palmer that deconstructs film. The series began with a deconstruction of how Steven Spielberg creates suspense with the beach scene in Jaws. It has steadily grown from there. You can check out The Discarded Image’s video essays here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).