The Seventh Seal

The Seventh Seal

DVD - 2009
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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.
Title: The seventh seal
[DVD]
Publisher: [Irvington, NY] : Criterion Collection, [2009]
Characteristics: 2 videodiscs (180 min.) : sd., b&w ; 4 3/4 in
Notes: Title from container
Originally released as a motion picture in 1957
Special features: Disc one: Introduction by Ingmar Bergman, recorded in 2003; audio commentary by Bergman expert Peter Cowie, with a new afterword; archival audio interview with Max von Sydow; a 1989 tribute to Bergman by filmmaker Woody Allen; theatrical trailer. Disc two: "Bergman Island:" (2006), an 83-minute documentary on Bergman by journalist Marie Nyreröd, featuring in-depth and revealing interviews with the director; "Bergman 101:" a selection video filmography tracing Bergman's career, narrated by Cowie
Contents: Disc one: The Seventh seal with introduction by Ingmar Bergman, recorded in 2003
Disc two: "Bergman Island:" (2006), an 83-minute documentary
Summary: 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.
Alternative Title: Sjunde inseglet [DVD]
ISBN: 9781604651416
Branch Call Number: SEV
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w
weeksworld
Feb 22, 2021

Probably Bergman's best film. He directed three films early in his career that covered grand themes like 'the meaning of life', philosophy and religious impact. This was the first of those (the others were 'The Magician' and 'The Devil's Eye') before he turned away from that and made films about family life and personal conflict. In this film, the hero, played majestically by Max Von Sidow, tries to return from a Holy Crusade to his home in Sweden but finds Europe engulfed in The Black Plague and then must confront his mortality. He starts out with a small band (a squire and a servant) but is joined later by a young couple with a child that hopes to make a living performing but everything is turned around when he is joined by the angel of death. The members start dying off but the process is slowed down as he engages death in a game of chess. Along the way we see people taken in the prime of their lives with no cause nor reason. Death is unbiased in how one lived or their status. At one point, a women is being burned at the stake in the belief that she is responsible for this tragedy and in that moment, she sees what lies beyond death and discovers there's nothing. Like Orson Welles, it is a film of iconic images and masterfully presented scenes. There are strong symbolic tones throughout the movie and the ending is striking that has not been imitated effectively as Mr. Bergman.

d
dirtbag
Feb 01, 2021

This is my favorite Bergman film. I saw it years ago and thought it was philosophical and dark but somewhat magical. I still find it philosophical and dark but can now see the underlying humor. It is like everyone is in on the joke except the knight. In the end, he is the only one who cares about the existence of God. He asks his angst driven questions about God to a clueless Death and Death doesn't care. God is not part of his job description (or so it seems).

r
reginator_22
May 18, 2020

I wanted to like this more. The dialogue is awesome but I just can't get over some slow parts of this film.

l
lukasevansherman
Mar 24, 2020

RIP Max Von Sydow. This is maybe the film to start with him.

c
Calvacade
Mar 09, 2020

The "Seventh Seal" is a masterpiece of cinema and film-making, because of the richness of the symbolism it contains as well as the impeccable acting of its actors. The pathos of feeling exhibited by Max von Sydow and the other players is palpable, as is the depth of emotion, symbolism, and ultimate optimism that Bergman imbues every part of the film with, from the opening sequence, in which von Sydow plays chess with Death, until the last chess sequence.

v
VonHafenstaaad
Feb 22, 2020

One of Bergman's masterpieces. No film since has examined the meanings of life in such a way since. Exploring themes relevant today like existentialism, faith in the silence of God, and what makes life worth living. Would be worth watching more than once as there is so much that gets missed the first time. Great and thought provoking.

e
Ephriam
Jul 04, 2019

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

j
jimg2000
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:
https://cinemascandinavia.wordpress.com/articles/issue-3-ingmar-bergman/cheating-death-the-anti-logic-of-the-chess-match-in-the-seventh-seal/
The essay:
https://www.criterion.com/current/posts/21-the-seventh-seal

r
rhodo86
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.

a
ANTHONYZEDAN
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.

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r
reginator_22
May 18, 2020

Antonius Block: We must make an idol of our fear, and call it god.

j
jimg2000
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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haPPY_FUn_baLL
Nov 11, 2009

haPPY_FUn_baLL thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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r
reginator_22
May 18, 2020

Other: Drinking

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