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Image courtesy of MGM

Preceded by Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, 1943) Ingmar Bergman, 1966

Film History 101

As our film heritage becomes more and more digitized, it is harder and harder for audiences to see important films in the manner in which they were originally meant to be presented: in a theater, on film, with an audience. Film History 101 is our modest attempt to keep this tradition alive. Once a month, we'll present a selection that transcends "classic" status to that of "essential"—films that are widely recognized as among the greatest the art of moving pictures has to offer.


Many classic films are just as powerful today as when they were first released. We add such films from many genres to our schedule throughout the season. Many are shown on the occasion of their rereleases, in fresh, new or restored prints.

Tue, Apr 12, 2011 7 PM

Critic John Simon says "Persona is to film what Ulysses is to the novel." Here it is paired with an influential short by Deren, "the high priestess of experimental cinema" (Senses of Cinema).

One of the landmarks of '60s cinema and Swedish director Ingmar Bergman's career, Persona examines the increasing frustrations of a nurse (Bergman veteran Bibi Andersson) as she tends to an actress (Liv Ulmann, in her Bergman debut) who has gone mute following a nervous breakdown. After a series of deeply personal confessions—including what famed New Yorker critic Pauline Kael called "one of the rare truly erotic sequences in movie history"—the identities of the two women begin to merge together. (81 mins., 35mm)

The evening begins with Meshes of the Afternoon, a dreamlike, surrealistic psychological portrait of a troubled woman that is one of the most important films to come out of the American avant-garde. Its influence can still be seen today in the work of David Lynch and countless other filmmakers. (14 mins., 16mm)

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