The seventh seal

The seventh seal

DVD - 2009 | Swedish
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Antonius Block is a knight, who along with his squire, are returning home from the crusades. Black Death is sweeping their country. As they approach home, Death appears to the knight and tells him it is his time. Antonius challenges Death to a chess game for his life. Antonius and Death play as the cultural turmoil envelopes the people around them as they try, in different ways, to deal with the upheaval that the plague has caused.


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Jul 04, 2019

Bored out of my mind. Believe the black and white picture was the best part of the movie.

Feb 20, 2019

Rich story and thanks to the insights in the essay in the booklet insert, I think I got most of what Bergman was trying to convey the meaning of life and death to a broad array of people in the social strata in the days of the Crusades and Black Death.

The subtle move in knocking over the chess pieces:
The essay:

Feb 12, 2017

A masterpiece. I watched it and the passion of Joan of Arc in the same evening a week ago but the teary face of a woman monopolized my dreams that night. As some reviewers already mentioned here, the challenge of the existence of God was dated. Both movies talked about grace, courage in the face of death and God's silence in a very different way, both deserved 5 star rating but one seemed to stand the test of time a bit better according to my dreams from that night.

Feb 02, 2017

I re-watched Ingmar Bergman's classic, The Seventh Seal, tonight and was struck by what an immensely beautiful and honest film it is; how we all struggle with life and death and the eventual end of our lives and its meaning or lack thereof and the need for faith in something beautiful in the face of death's cynicism, how some of us struggle to be better and get along and contribute to the common good when faced with so much ignorance, adversity, dread and stupid superstitions. If you don't remember the basic plot it deals with how a faithful Christian crusader knight, after spending many trying years in the Holy Land under terrible circumstances, makes his journey back home with his squire after having made a deal to play chess with Death to extend his personal journey to possibly know God, and comes to know God through the people he picks up along the way, Judgment day looms over the film from the beginning in the form of the plague that is devastating his homeland, the biblical references to Judgment Day, and the spiritual angst of the possibility of meeting his own death without having proof of God's existence. All I could think about was how all of the characters are archetypes of the human persona, good and bad, some stronger than others, playing out this play called life. It literally gave me tears of joy.

Nov 07, 2016

Beautifully restored version of this Swedish classic - the Criterion Collection have done a fantastic job!

This may have lost some impact over time as it has been much parodied but it remains a true classic of world cinema.

The story of Antonius Block as he wrestles with the silence of God in a world ravaged by an apocalyptic plague (the Black Death) is both confronting and challenging. Bergman refuses to tie things up in a neat ending, leaving the viewer to contemplate life and existence for ourselves.

May 08, 2015

For many the quintessential Bergman film which has been copied and parodied so many times it has become something of an arthouse icon. After a long, torturous crusade in the Holy Land dispirited knight Antonius Block (Max von Sydow) returns home to a medieval Sweden teeming with fear and superstition. The Plague is claiming victims up and down the coast while an implacable church harangues the frightened masses with tales of Judgement Day. Upset with the apparent meaninglessness of life (and death) as well as God’s unwillingness to show himself (“Why does he hide in a cloud of half-promises and unseen miracles?”) Antonius is undergoing a major crisis of faith when a most unlikely, yet not entirely unexpected, traveler pays him a visit—none other than Death himself, ghostly pale and draped in black. Not wanting to die until he has accomplished something of true value Antonius challenges Death to a game of chess, winner take all. Meanwhile, nearby, a band of jovial actors wend their way towards the nearest town and their own date with destiny. Perhaps one of Bergman’s most personal films, purported to be amongst his favourites, we can hear within Block’s eloquent rails against the Almighty Ingmar’s own spiritual angst as his knight demands proof of God’s existence only to be met with emptiness and Death’s sardonic grin. His troupe of actors, on the other hand, seem unfettered by supernatural concerns and instead approach life with lust and enthusiasm—their leader ironically receiving visions of the Virgin and Child while Block stumbles in darkness. This constant juxtaposition of light and dark (joy and despair, faith and doubt) proves to be a winning combination as Bergman paints the screen with some of cinema’s most memorable scenes: a skeletal shepherd keeps watch over a non-existent flock, a plague victim is bathed in a sudden burst of sunlight, and the Grim Reaper leads a band of dancing souls towards the grave. And, topping the list, Death and the Knight are shown contemplating their chessboard against a darkling sea, their silent musing rendered in gothic black and white. At once distancing and strikingly intimate, "The Seventh Seal" is a triumphant blend of philosophical discourse and pure storytelling wherein the entire world is reduced to a game board with everyone a pawn. Heady stuff.

Sep 08, 2014

Solid acting, jarring soundtrack, impressive cinematography combined with an original storyline with a very morose ending (a unique characteristic of most Swedish films) make this a very influential film and a benchmark in Swedish cinema.

xaipe Aug 08, 2013

The story of a medieval knight and a game of chess he plays with Death during a time when the Black Plague swept the land. There is no "storyline." The narrative exists in a larger structure of images or allegories made literal. I saw this more years ago than I can remember and yet certain images remain vivid in my memory: the image of Death and the Knight playing chess, and the final scene of the Dance of Death. It was parodied by Woody Allen who also greatly admired it. Rich in images and allegories, but not for the faint-hearted. Its challenge to the existence of God is dated, but still relevant. So many films since its release are derivative, so worth watching for cinephiles.

doom60 Aug 07, 2013

Scott Walker did a song about the film around 1969. Same title. He tells the story of the knight in five dramatic minutes. You might like it.

May 22, 2013

If you are interested we talked about this movie at the Carlingwood Library Film Club. We discuss three movies a month and we meet on the 2nd Tuesday of the Month.

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Nov 11, 2009

haPPY_FUn_baLL thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


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Feb 21, 2019

Many quotes in IMDb already but not these:

*** To live for one more meaningful deed ***

My whole life has been nothing but futile wandering and pursuits, a great deal of talk without meaning. It's all been in vain. I say that without bitterness or self-reproach, knowing that most men's lives are the same. But I want to use my reprieve for one meaningful act.

*** The deed ***

I've forgotten how the pieces were.
-I haven't.


Was your reprieve of some use?
-Yes, it was.


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