Tuesday, November 20, 2012

THE SCHOOL OF PERSONA (and other various movie comparisons)...

The title of this entry is a little misleading as it's not really so much about Persona as a whole, but one particular scene from the film instead. For the last 6-8 months I've been struggling to come up with a part four for "School Of Tarkovsky" and a part two for "School of Godard", but this edition came out pretty effortlessly. We all know there's plenty of iconic & influential movie images that pop up in modern films (The bandit shooting at the screen in The Great Train Robbery, Robert Mitchum's Love/Hate Tattoo in Night Of The Hunter, Jimmy Stewart going insane in Vertigo, etc)...

The Great Train Robbery (L) / Goodfellas (R)
Night Of The Hunter (L) / Do The Right Thing (R)
Vertigo (L) / Lost Highway (R)

But Persona has to have one of the all time top five greatest influential scenes/moments ever. Next to the hidden images of Pazuzu in the Exorcist, the burning house from The Sacrifice or Henry's intense glare at the camera in Eraserhead, this moment from Bergman's Persona (below) may be my all time favorite movie image ever...

Persona - Ingmar Bergman (1967)

And what's strange is that the movie itself isn't even one of my all time favorites. Don't get me wrong, it's a classic and is singlehandedly responsible for influencing some of my favorite films (Mulholland Drive, La Ceramonie & 3 Women). All you need to do is read various PINNLAND EMPIRE entries from over the years (Water Lilies, La Haine, Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown, etc) to know how influential Persona is. But this standalone moment holds a lot more weight to me than the overall film. It can be looked at and interpreted in so many ways. It's truly a work of art. It represents things like desire, curiosity & fascination (the way the young boy touches the screen), love of cinema, disconnection (the movie screen coming between the young boy and the woman on the other side of the screen) etc. What makes this image so great is that it transcends the typical indie/art house scene. Sure it's influenced the work of indie/art house heavyweights like Todd Haynes & Hartley, but it's also influenced shots from big films like The Truman Show and iconic Horror films like Poltergeist. Normally I feel like I'm reaching with some of these comparisons, but I think all the images below (although some have a slight variation/twist) are on point. I'm sure I haven't captured every image that borrowed from this scene so please feel free to let me know if I missed something...

Amateur - Hal Hartley (1994) / Dottie Gets Spanked - Todd Haynes (1993)
The Truman Show - Peter Wier (1998) / Poltergiest - (1980)
Poison - Todd Haynes (1991) / Europa - Lars Von Trier (1991)

Videodrome - David Cronenberg (1984) / Cinema Paradiso - Giuseppe Tornatore(1988)
The Skin I Live In (2011) / The Blackout (1997)