Ingmar Bergman's Persona: Conversation between a doctor and her patient

The following is a conversation, from the movie “Persona”, by the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. It is between a doctor and her patient, a stage actress, who has recently turned mute and apathetic.

Doctor: Don’t you think I understand? The hopeless dream of being. Not seeming, but being. In every waking moment aware, alert. The tug of war between what you are with others and who you really are. A feeling of vertigo and a constant hunger to be finally exposed. To be seen through, cut down even obliterated.

Every tone of voice a lie. Every gesture false. Every smile a grimace. You can’t run away. That’s unthinkable. You don’t do things like that. But you can refuse to move and be silent. Then, at least, you’re not lying. You can shut yourself in, shut out the world. Then you don’t have to play any roles, show any faces, make false gestures. You’d think so……but reality is diabolical. Your hiding-place isn’t watertight. Life trickles in everywhere. You’re forced to react. Nobody asks if it’s real or not, if you’re honest or a liar. That’s only important at the theater, perhaps not even there. I understand why you’re silent, why you don’t move. Your lifelessness has become a fantastic part. I understand and I admire you. I think you should play this part until it’s done……until it’s no longer interesting. Then you can leave it, as you leave all your roles.