(Just a single rule: mix-tape-style, no more than one film per director. You know, because otherwise the whole thing would be pointless.)
Drama • dir. Ingmar Bergman • 1966 • Sweden
There is one short passage in Persona, especially, that straight up floors me every time. Essentially simple – just Bibi Anderson sitting on a squat bench in the sun, and accidentally knocking over and breaking a small glass of water – it is, to my eyes, nothing less than a precious peek at cinema’s unsullied soul. There’s dark shadow in the foreground and, further back where Anderson is, bright light. It’s quiet and still, until the glass falls and Anderson, alone, begins picking up the shards. Moments later, Liv Ullmann (Persona‘s other female lead) appears and Anderson’s solitude is broken. She’s barefoot and a large piece of broken glass remains on the ground, which Anderson spies and Ullmann, unwarned, is fortunate to narrowly avoid.
It’s not much on paper, I admit. But on screen it’s a run of seconds utterly beyond improvement. No need for words: just light, dark, wind, sound, conflict, eyes, and us, unseen, watching all. It’s like pulling the covers over your head as a child, with no place to be and everywhere to go. Or something thereabouts… By any measure, Ingmar Bergman is one of the greatest filmmakers who ever lived. He’s bold, brilliant, and ever-curious – never dodging giant themes (in Persona: primal fears, dreams, passions, and follies), but grabs at them with eager and unembarrassed strength. His films are fleshy and erotic, yet cerebral too. You can’t look away. You can’t stop thinking about them. And deep down to your bones, you feel them – sometimes in a series of wild jolts, and other times like fingertips over anxious skin.