The Screen: Into the Shadows - Persona

a person holding their hand up against a projection of a woman's face
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This season we delve into the dark and explore psychoanalyst Carl Jung's concept of "the shadow". These films span the last century and probe those ignored or repressed parts of our collective unconscious. What happens when they surface?

Actress Elisabet, whilst performing on stage, is mysteriously struck mute. Unable to bring her voice back, she, along with a nurse, Alma, heads to the Baltic Sea to convalesce. Whilst there, a strange merging between the two women occurs.

Carl Jung talks about our "personas" as a tool to conceal our flaws and authentic selves to the outside world. What happens when those masks begin to slip off and what is hidden starts to reveal itself?

Bergman said with this film he "touched wordless secrets that only the cinema can discover", and indeed, along with other filmmakers of this era, his preoccupation with our subconscious is in full display here. Inspired by his own experiences of being sick, he uses the lens of imagined womanhood to create a heady exploration of what happens when the shadow comes forth. Loneliness, fear, despair and the general angst of being human is played in striking black and white cinematography. Dream sequences and existential ennui make this a cinematic encounter that feels beguiling and a truly affecting watch.

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