Today’s plan was to watch, The Seventh Seal (1957). I had invited the owner of the film to come and watch it with me in the afternoon. I also happened to have a copy of another Ingmar Bergman film available, borrowed from my local library: Persona (1966). As we started early, we had time to include this second film.
What a blast. To watch two Ingmar Bergman films, with only a 10-minute break in between. The first was the one I’d seen before, which I always knew was considered his best or close to it. But then to watch Persona immediately afterwards – that was extraordinary.
Immediate impression is that I’m not any closer to understanding their position in the list of greatest films ever. Seventh Seal is striking, and bold, and full of (unexpected) humour. Lots of religious references. Lots of beautifully created scenes, thoughtful imagery, and memorable framing. The cinematography is stunning.
There was no time to reflect on it, because Persona blew those thoughts away. Made 9 or 10 years later, this is completely different, and quite intrusive, obliterating the previous film for the next 85 minutes. It is compelling. I thought these two films would be difficult cinema, but it isn’t, and they’re not. I’m confused by a few things in Persona. I need to think about it some more.
The composition of the film frame with Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson, who occupy the frame so significantly for the last two-thirds, is magnificent.
Overwhelmed by two feasts for the eyes and the intellect.