The story of Ingmar Bergman's Persona begins when an stage actress named Elisabeth (Liv Ullmann) stops speaking while in the middle of performing Electra, and will no longer speak again. A psychiatrist thinks it might be helpful if Elizabeth and Nurse Alma (Bibi Andersson) spend the summer at her isolated house. While the two women are held up with one another within their own space and time, Alma tries to break the silence, by talking about trivial matters, which gradually leads to her talking about her own anxieties and fears, and into more personal secrets and torments which includes two powerful monologues: one highly sexual and full of extreme pleasure and excitement, and the other unbearably bleak, full of pain, bitterness and hate; as Bergman tells it again immediately afterwards, word for word, this time with the camera completely on Alma. Gradually the two women will ultimately start to merge, as Bergman emphasizes the two actresses similar appearances, especially in the eerie sequence in which Bergman superimposes the two women's faces, merging their facial features together to form one woman.
Ingmar Bergman's Persona is one of those fascinating films that you keep returning to, trying to uncover more of its mysteries and hoping it reveals more of its secrets. The beginning of Stanley Kubrick's2001: A Space Odyssey captured the birth of man. Persona and its experimental beginning is said to have captured the death of the motion picture camera. Persona is the quintessential example of the art film, and they're several times within the story where Bergman is informing the audience what is real and what is fantasy. There is a break in the middle of the film as Bergman shows its camera turning back and beginning again, and at the end the camera completely runs out of film, and the light dies from the lamp of the projector, and the movie is over. There is also a moment near the climax where Bergman clearly shows the camera crew and sound operators on a crane filming the last sequence, which indicates that Bergman is reminding the audience that what we are witnessing isn't necessarily 'real,' and is quite simply, only a movie.Persona gives no clear answers, its conclusion is left ambiguous, the film is based more on interpretation, and what every audience member sees in the film can differ based upon each person's perspective.