The Seventh Seal

The Seventh Seal

DVD - 2009
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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
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
MARC Display»


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
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.

Mar 24, 2020

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
May 18, 2020

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

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.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
Nov 11, 2009

haPPY_FUn_baLL thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


Add Notices
May 18, 2020

Other: Drinking


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at BPL

To Top