Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The "Persona" versus the person...


The last film I chose for the Filmhouse 'House Guests' programme was Bergman's PERSONA which I first saw in 1971 and which has fascinated me ever since.

I wanted to find out more to understand it better, and so bought the script.

This isn't the shooting script, but a step towards it, and it differs from the film in many important respects.

But the speech i was mainly looking for remains the more or less the same.

It's the Doctor of the psychiatric ward where Elisabet Vogler is a patient following her breakdown.

The Doctor says:

"...the abyss between what you are for others and what you are for yourself. The feeling of dizziness and the continual burning need to be unmasked. At last to be seen through, reduced, perhaps extinguished. Every tone of voice a lie, an act of treason. Every gesture false. Every smile a grimace..."

I never applied these words to myself at the time, but they absolutely rang true to the person I then was.

I knew I was not the young man I pretended to be.

I concealed the fact that I wanted to live as a woman; and I concealed the fact I wanted to live as an artist.

Both these profound and powerful desires filled me with fear and with shame.

I could not resist them; I considered myself an abject failure.

And yet both have come true. And both have saved my life.

And I suddenly find myself remembering something in the Gospels:

"The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone".

And I am amazed at the journey that has taken place in my life.

A journey which perhaps began with my passionate identification with the two women in this film...
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