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Ingmar Bergman'S Persona

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Autor:  anton  01 November 2010
Tags:  Ingmar,  Bergmans,  Persona
Words: 950   |   Pages: 4
Views: 329

What different masks do you wear that both reveal and conceal?

In Ingmar Bergman’s masterpiece, Persona, the character played by Liv Ullmann, Elisabeth and the nurse, Alma, played by Bibi Andersson are one and the same person. They are "split" when the actress does not want to act any more, and retires to her own self. The term "does not want to act" depicts two things: firstly, she does not want to act as a job, and secondly, in a more distant, but more appropriate interpretation, she does not want to act to the outside world. The nurse is nothing more than the outside appearance of the same person—this is why Mr. Vogler recognizes her (and not Elisabeth) as Mrs. Vogler. Elisabeth is the inner self of the same person: she is a quiet, strong personality. This interpretation is suggested by the director when the two half-faces of the nurse and Elisabeth are put together into one picture, one face.

Bergman appropriately chose the title, Persona which is the Greek word for mask and also signifies the social faзade that one portrays in public, or image. In the film, the lines between the persona of Alma and Elisabeth are blurred or overlap, and are possibly one in the same.

The aforementioned theme hit close to home as I was watching the film because sometimes I feel that I am comprised of and reflect multiple personas. I initially pondered if I should seek therapy, but after realizing that this is a central theme in many novels and films, I have become to feel less alienated and accepted that this is mere human nature. I cannot exactly pinpoint how many different “masks” I wear, as some are slight variations of the same mask, but I will discuss a few in detail:

Mask #1: The Parental Mask

I wear this mask when I go home to visit the parental units and relatives, specifically on holidays and family functions. This mask enables me to become a perfect angel who always says “please and thank you.” Magically, it facilitates me to limit my intake of alcoholic beverages to one, become the representative for all honor roll college students, and know exactly where I am going with my five-year plan. While wearing this mask, my vernacular mirrors a Harvard graduate and/or nun and fails to mention the hedonism and debauchery that typical San Diego weekends bring to me when this mask is put away.

Mask #2: The School Mask

When wearing this mask, with complementing iPod headphones that come off while in class, the world sees me as quiet, antisocial, opinionated, hard-working, and motivated. While on campus, this mask allows me to go straight to class and take care of business and go home, no bullshitting. I do not care to make friends, chatter, or hang out on campus while wearing this mask. I have a job to do here, and that job is to excel in my classes. The driest and loneliest mask of all, it has worked for me thus far.

Mask #3: The Work Mask

The Work Mask has some of the traits of the School Mask, but rather than dry and anti-social, this mask is warm and friendly. I work in a people-oriented field, so when answering phones and assisting customers, the mask nullifies the dry, sarcastic tone of voice and replaces it that of a pre-recorded message. This mask also takes the word “No” out of my lexicon and replaces it with the word “Yes.” And not just any “Yes,” a “Yes” with a complimenting smile that makes my insides move and cringe every time I think about it when the Work Mask comes off.

Mask #4: The Weekend Mask

My favorite Mask and the most easily likeable mask, this one is down for anything, has fun yet is still sarcastic and sometimes dry, but in a good way. This mask allows me to be charming, but not in the same way as the Work Mask. This one is more sincere, I think. Depending on what type of people I am around while wearing the Weekend Mask, a distinct argot and actions are applied in a chameleon-like manner in order to adapt to my increasingly eclectic group of friends. This mask can sometimes be worn during the week, but to a lesser degree and the School and Work Masks must be worn at specified times, often early in the morning.

There are definitely more masks than the four listed above, but they involve weird permutations of the four and I must avoid repetition as well as limit this essay to five pages. Does this wearing of different masks make me inconsistent? A hypocrite? A fake? A phony?

No. As I mentioned before, it is mere human nature to wear many masks and it is such a fascinating and obscure topic, which adds to the effect of Bergman’s Persona. Many of the masks that I wear have conflicting characteristics, which is why I cannot wear two-masks at the same time and why they are mutually exclusive. Imagine the trouble I would find myself in if I wore Weekend Mask in lieu of Work Mask to work? Or Work Mask to a downtown club on the weekend?

As Bergman so graciously depicted in the last scene of the film, when the two faces are placed adjacently to create one face, is that all of the masks we wear are what makes us who we are. It will forever create a struggle within the person, as one tries to be everything to everyone.

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