In 1964, Ingmar Bergman wrote a script for a film titled The Cannibals. It was to star Bibi Andersson, and included a small part for the up-and-coming Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann, but it was ultimately tabled when Bergman became very ill and it was unclear when the production could start. Some months later, after seeing a photo of Andersson and Ullmann together (they’d become fast friends), he came up with the idea for Persona, a story about two women who lose their identities in one another.
Bergman wrote the script for what would come to be called Persona in fourteen days, while he was in the hospital. Earlier titles for the film included Cinematography, Sonata for Two Women, A Piece of Cinema, and Opus 27.
The opening of the film includes Jörgen Lindström, who was also cast in Bergman’s 1963 film The Silence.
While Elisabet (Ullmann) is in the hospital, we see her watching a TV news broadcast, her eyes widened in shock. Ullmann says she’s never been satisfied with this acting performance. She felt it was “Liv being shocked Liv,” not something coming from her character. She never understood why Bergman chose to leave it in the film.
All the scenes involving Elisabet’s rehabilitation by the sea were filmed on Fårö Island, just a few miles down the coast from where Through a Glass Darkly (below) had been shot five years earlier.
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