Persona by Ingrid Bergman

Persona by Ingrid Bergman contains 50 cuts. The montage incorporates tonal montage, overtonal montage, metric montage, rhythmic montage, contrasting sound. I believe some of the footage is found.

In the first cut we start in darkness then light is gradually shed on the projector and parts. This technique gives the impression of a new cut, but is in fact, just a tonal shift in frame. It also gives the effect of action in the otherwise still frame.

Then we cut to the film running through the projector and that is moving fast. The quick motion of the film is matched by a pair of hands moving quickly in a meaningless gesture mimicking something.

The next few cuts which bring us closer and closer to the animated image on the screen, which maintains the pacing the projector set. Then the image freezes on the animation in the next cut.

The quick metric is picked up again by the leader on the screen for a second and the next cut is a blown out unidentifiable image.

After that we are taken to an old fashioned looking super 8 film. The nature of the super 8 film has that same metric. White frames are used as resting spots between sections of the film: Before the super 8 film, after the super 8 film, before the man nailing his hand, before the spider, before the lamb, before the elderly man’s chin.

This combination rhythm and metric montage is used most heavily in the beginning, then slows to non-existent by the end. From the beginning to now, the tone of the images is lightening, yet there is still stark contrast and crunched blacks. The super 8 is not different.

After the man hammering a nail in his hand the image begins to lighten next with the slaughter of the lamb and the spider. Everything is slowing down too. The quick metric is transitioning to nearly still.

The rhythm of the cuts is becoming longer. The tone is becoming lower contrast. Since the beginning, the image has not changed tone within a cut. The image of the lamb bleeding is held, then a quick cut to the organs.

At this point the rhythm has been fairly steady with a few moments of quickened pace set by shorter cuts. But the pacing has been heavily the job of the metric montage element. The sound in this film gives it a darker overtone.

We hear the sound of the lamb being chopped while our eyes rest on a white frame. The tone of the sound is bright, yet the pacing goes from fast to slow like tip toes running to a hiding spot, then suspenseful drawn out notes follow, giving a mysterious quality to the otherwise happy tune.

The beat or rhythm of the the tune is nearly absent, since it is changing or even silent at moments. This is a modern composition. When watching Persona with the sound off, I don’t get the dark overtone despite the spider, nailed hand, and slaughter of the lamb.

The ending with the lower contrast images of possibly dead-like people seem more peaceful. Overall, the film has a coldness to it. The overtone montage on this piece has the spirit of mystery, darkness, peacefulness, and loneliness. Persona, image, film, pictures, looking in on someone from a screen — this must have been a cold lonely world.

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