Ingmar Bergman Interview “Persona Saved My Life”

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Ingmar Bergman Interview PersonaThis is an old and odd interview Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman did at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. It is of very questionable quality in terms of cinematography, editing, and content, and somehow everything about it is vintage. Towards the end of the video, Bergman is interrupted midway through his sentence, only to be replaced by a random and seemingly unrelated musical event. The interview, however, is worth watching, if only for Bergman’s discussion of Persona. Aside from this, however, the director also talks about film violence (one of Michael Haneke’s favorite topics, which he explores in detail in Funny Games), and particularly about Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.

In all art today, you have aggression and violence. Sometimes the violence and aggression are clean, and sometimes they are dirty, a sort of pornographic violence. I will not talk about pornographic violence because I think it has nothing [to do] with artistic work. I think, Mr. Scorsese’s film Taxi Driver is a film of violence of the highest artistic level. And if there will be a link between this situation with Mr. Reagan and this film [the attempted assassination of President Reagan, which some blamed Taxi Driver for], I think the artist can’t be responsible because all over the world, there are people who use art in the wrong way.

Ingmar Berman on Persona

When asked if his personal life had influence on the making of the movie, Bergman responded:

Yes, I think so. I was very ill. I got a cold and I had to work. I got pneumonia, […] I was allergic to penicillin, and I was ill about half a year. And I thought I will never return to filmmaking, but then I started slowly, very very slowly to write Persona. […] So, I think Persona saved my life.

To read other filmmakers’ thoughts on cinema, check out Robert Bresson’s “Notes on Cinematography,” Drew Christie’s interview about his animated short Allergy to Originality, Louis Morton’s about his film Passer Passer, and Jake Harris’ about Three Poems.