Persona or Cries and Whispers? Both are amazing movies from the marvellous Bergman.
Which one do you prefer? Explain your preference..
Have not seen Persona in its entirety but I plan to.
Cries and Whispers gets inside your head. Several scenes in the film are unforgettable. The sister who is sick with cancer (I forget her name) suddenly sitting up in bed from a sound sleep and emitting a blood-curdling scream of pain is thoroughly nerve-rattling. Ingrid Thulin mutilating her vagina with the broken shard of glass is just horrific. That scene when Erland Josephsson forces Liv ullman’s character to face the mirror and he starts pointing out and explaining how her face has changed across the years, something about the permanent lines near her mouth as a result of sneering too much is just way too perceptive beyond words. I love this film. It was very disturbing the first time I saw it and every single time I see it.
Of the two, I’d go with Cries and Whispers, which is so raw and emotionally savage, but still somehow beautiful. While groundbreaking and innovative, Persona doesn’t dig as deep as Bergman has shown he can. That being said, I’d rate Fanny & Alexander and Winter Light far above either.
Persona. For whatever reason, I could never get into Cries and Whispers, but I do tend to gravitate towards films centering on one character, especially one as profound as that. I would actually go on to say that Persona, which is probably his most acclaimed work, is the most profound thing I’ve seen from him. Winter Light is up there also, but I could never get into Cries and Whispers…or Fanny and Alexander for that matter.
You know I sort of think they are equal. Persona is playing with the person watching the film, breaking down the process of a film. Cries and Whispers is a study of compassion and cruelty. Pain as well. And it uses colors in a unique way such as the colors white to represent purity and red to represent life. I guess. Something like that.
Just to elaborate on my opinion a bit, and excuse me, for I’m probably going to sound ignorant here, but for whatever reason when I watched “Cries and Whispers”, I couldn’t get past the women acting childishly and ridiculous, the sick sister’s histrionics, and all the “in your face” color. It just felt like a big mess. Now I’m sure there’s more to the film than that obviously, but some films you just can’t penetrate emotionally beneath the surface, even if you know what’s underneath, or know that there is an underneath. I could read a million essays on the film, explaining its use of color and analyzing the sister’s relationships to each other and, how their lives thus far have shaped their personalities, but I would probably still watch it and be just as annoyed. It seems like one of those type of films, with me at least. That being said, due to my huge respect and love for Bergman, I’ll probably get around to watching it again one day.
They’re both so damn good it’s a bit silly to try and put one above the other, though Cries and Whispers is currently my favourite Bergman. Bergman himself preferred Cries and Whispers.
Glegs, I knew Bergman saw Persona, Winter Light and Cries and Whispers as his greatest achievements, but I wasn’t aware the latter was his favourite?
Persona is more innovative i guess, and certainly more ‘conceptually’ interesting, but Cries and Whispers is better imo, mostly for the reasons Brad and Mark stated above.
Yeah I read it in a book about him my brother owns; he said something about how Cries and Whispers was all of his ideas coming together perfectly. Part of the reason he loved Persona so much was because it was such an unexpected success. But I just did a bit of research and I couldn’t find the quote, so maybe it was just a one off thing. Them directors are always changing their opinions. Either way they’re both great.
According to Mark, Brad S. and Joks, women with cancer and mutilated vaginas always win against innovative ideas, so I have to agree to disagree to ultimately agree.
^^hahah Stephen, generally i would side with the ‘better’ idea, but in this case, Cries and Whispers, to me, just seems like a more well rounded and accomplished film overall. I’m hesitant to use the word ‘mature’ though, but i’m guessing that’s how Bergman felt about it.
I think both Cries and Whispers and Fanny and Alexander are great distillations of Bergman’s main themes and film making style. or at least prevalent aspects of his film making style anyway.
Actually I haven’t seen Cries and Whispers, I’m just having a little intoxicated fun. Its like an after party for me right now.
Persona. Persona’s my favorite Bergman film, and Cries and Whispers has never been one of my favorites.
Persona is incredibly layered, but still very tight and simple. It’s the sort of film that can give you radically different interpretations in multiple viewings.
I"m not a fan of either film. They both have much of interest, but PERSONA loses me about halfway through, when they really start to switch places and the silliness about the film breaking begins, and CRIES AND WHISPERS devolves into shrill Carol Burnett Show hysterics.
FANNY AND ALEXANDER kicks PERSONA"s over-intellectualized ass.
Fanny and Alexander is one of Bergman’s worst films. The only good parts are the Christmas dinner in the beginning and the entire chunk in Erland Josephson’s character’s house. The rest was so weak and forced.
Cries and Whispers is my favorite Bergman film and one of my favorite films ever. Persona is pretty good, but I also find it loses me halfway through. He takes everything he built up and seems to piss it away by just throwing random shitty dream sequences at the scream. Very bland and just a rehash of what avant garde filmmakers had been doing for 40 years. Showing the two women become one on the screen was the equivalent of beating the audience over the head with a film canister. But until then, the drama and photography between the two women is very good.
I really don’t understand the criticism of Persona I’ve been reading here. Effing bizarre.
He takes everything he built up and seems to piss it away by just throwing random shitty dream sequences at the scream.
I think there’s a little more to it than “random shitty dream sequences”.
Both are absolutely phenomenal films. Asking me which one is better is like asking which leg I want to keep. Persona had much more emotional resonance with me for some reason. It becomes a much more personal experience the more you let it grow on you, like any Bergman.
I think Cries and Whispers is the most beautifully photographed movie ever made. Just the mental weight behind each shot makes it all the more gorgeous (and depressing as hell).
The dream sequences may not be as strong as the first half of the film but they’re really telling about the nurse’s character. She projects her own negative qualities onto her silent blank slate of a patient then directs her hostility at those qualities, and rebels against the creeping idea that she’s actually seeing herself.
It may use the same tropes as other avant grade films but uses them far more effectively.
Difficult to say.
Both films convey the fantastical worlds in reality. But I would have to go with Cries and Whsipers by a small margin, because the drama in that film was at tis most intense, especially Ingrid Thulin’s cutting scene ( I will spare you the graphic details), and it showed the true grief of losing a loved one in the prime of life.
“Cries and Whispers” is easily more grueling, but “Persona” gets under your skin and stays there.
Not to dertail the thread or anything, but why the f..k haven’t Criterion upgraded this one yet? Surely it would sell better than some of the other stuff they have been releasing lately? even a few of those Bergman titles.
Yeah, there is more to it. I was definitely being too hard on it. I think Persona is a great film, but I really think the dream sequences had way too much chaff. It seemed like Bergman wanted to slip in a lot of strange techniques just to do them in that section.
The first half, with the silence, the lighting, the entire part where Alma recounts the sex with the boy, the reading of the letter, all of it is AMAZING.
The part with the boiling water is one of my favorite FAVORITE FAVORITE moments in any film ever. When Elisabet screams “No, don’t do it!” I get chills all over. Bergman completely reduces all of humanity’s super ego into one, tiny, scared little id in that moment.
I mean, I could on and on: the part in the hospital with Vietnam on the TV, the part where the light fades and Bach is playing, the part where Elisabet drifts into Alma’s room (those boat sound effects….).
So, since the entire first half is so unbelievably amazing, it really bums me out that the film sort of stumbles and peters out in the end.
I get going into Alma’s psyche and her dream, but that’s what ruined it- we don’t NEED to do that. It’s sterile and redundant. We got everything we needed in the first half. The dream sequence completely undermines what the “sexual encounter” story does earlier.
Bergman’s “The Silence” is a much more subdued, but in my opinion, much more consistent and solid approach to similar subject matter. Persona has much better moments, but I think is not as strong when you look at the WHOLE piece.
And look at the dream sequence in “Cries and Whispers”. Can you think of a better, more realistic dream sequence? When Ingrid Thulin starts mouthing words that aren’t there, I nearly lost my mind. It’s a much more effective dream sequence than the one in the second half of Persona.
Anyway, like I said, I like the film a lot. I have seen it more than any other Bergman. It was my FIRST Bergman, actually, and one of the first, if not THE first foreign film I ever saw (when I was 16). But I can’t express my love for it without my criticisms!
In any case, Bergman’s period from 1961-1973 is his strongest, Shame being insanely underrated.
Susan Sontag on Persona
R, Susan Sontag is amazing. Apparently, she used to watch Tarrs’ Damnation routinely. I adore that film.
Well I agree with just about everything you have to say John, except I do like the dream sequences. I’m surprised that you think The Silence is better. It’s certainly an interesting film, but I thought it was a bit too subdued, and that’s what brought it down. Still a very good film though.
G-Legs- Persona IS the better film because the better parts are so much stronger. However, The Silence felt much more consistent on the whole.
It’s like listening to two albums: one where half the songs are amazing and the other are just OK, and one where all of the songs are pretty good but nothing genius level. The latter is The Silence.
I think The Silence held that subdued feeling all the way through. It held its rhythm. Bergman never cracked and resorted to the characters making long, philosophical speeches. He kept it ambiguous, he kept it true, and that was a first for him. It was a very interesting shift for him, and a terribly underrated movie.
For me, the dream sequences in Persona’s latter half are not terrible (except that double face/piano banging part- I cringe every time) but compared to the first half of the movie they are really…unnecessary. They undermine the strange, non-sequitor opening sequence. They undermine the ambiguous scene where Elisabet may or may not have visited Alma. They are too clearly abstract, too clearly a dream, and betray the entire rhythm and atmosphere of the first half.
The film goes from curiously provoking my brain to putting my brain on autopilot. I still don’t know if Elisabet actually visited Alma in her room that night. That haunts me. However, the double face thing….I “get it” all too easy.
What’s that quote from that Godard movie? “If you understand me, I wasn’t being clear”. That’s how I feel about the second half. Not horrible, but disappointing to me when the rest of the film was on its way to being perfect. But that’s what loving artists and their art is all about. I except Bergman’s flaws and I still love his movies.
The dream sequences may use a lot of the chic avant grade film techniques of the time, but it uses them more effectively and powerfully than other films, and you can’t accuse it of being vague and pretentious.