“Persona” was the first Ingmar Bergman movie I watched, in mid-2008 or so. Since then, I watched a couple of his movies, read some of his writings, reached Strindberg from him in the past few years. However, “Persona” remained the most intriguing movie, although its not my favorite Bergman movie. Although I don’t think I understand the movie, it was the one that raised my curiosity about Bergman as a writer and set me on the path of watching his other movies. While listening to the lectures on Bergman in Scandinavian Film and Television course on coursera, I learnt that Strindberg’s one-act play, “The Stronger” was an inspiration for “Persona”.
[The word “inspiration” is very different from “copy”. Both the play and the movie are independent entities and are equally worth checking out. I personally would consider Persona to be a much more complex psychological drama and its much longer.]
Now, “The Stronger” did not particularly fascinate me. But it is hard to not think about the characters and about their possible interpretations, after reading the play. Its short, very short, but has its impact on the reader nevertheless. I will not say anything more, but will quote something that I read again and again in the play (No, not because I don’t understand English – but because the characters came alive in front of my eyes when I read the monologue).
“Everything, everything came from you to me, even your passions. Your soul crept into mine, like a worm into an apple, ate and ate, bored and bored, until nothing was left but the rind and a little black dust within. I wanted to get away from you, but I couldn’t; you lay like a snake and charmed me with your black eyes; I felt that when I lifted my wings they only dragged me down; I lay in the water with bound feet, and the stronger I strove to keep up the deeper I worked myself down, down, until I sank to the bottom, where you lay like a giant crab to clutch me in your claws–and there I am lying now.
I hate you, hate you, hate you! And you only sit there silent–silent and indifferent; indifferent whether it’s new moon or waning moon, Christmas or New Year’s, whether others are happy or unhappy; without power to hate or to love; as quiet as a stork by a rat hole–you couldn’t scent your prey and capture it, but you could lie in wait for it! “
Here is an interesting analysis of the play.
A few months back, I bought “Persona”‘s screenplay and found a pdf of critical essays on Persona. Perhaps, its time to start reading them soon!