Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
The Seventh Seal
Ingmar Bergmann’s masterpiece film about confronting death. Death comes to a knight upon his arrival from battle and attempts to take him away. The knight challenges Death to a chess match as the people around them are haunted by the plague. The Seventh Seal comes from a riddle about crusaders who arrive home after a few years to find their people affected by the plague.
''I met Death today. We are playing chess.''
Ingmar Bergman's 1957 hallowed masterpiece The Seventh Seal seems to exist in a pantheon of cinema greatness that is universally adored and cherished, with it's iconic symbolism and imagery imprinted on the minds and hearts of Cinephiles across all matter of time and space. As I ventured into my third viewing (the first in more than ten years), I was curious to discover whether the acclaim was still warranted, of which the answer was unequivocally 'Yes'.
I recently saw mentioned that Bergman's film Winter Light (made five years after this), is a modern retelling of the same themes in many ways, which is very astute considering what we know of the revered…
My first Bergman feature and it proved to be quite an intriguing one. The Seventh Seal poses some of the most pertinent questions known to mankind and that too in a very bare and straight out manner.
It tells the story of Antonious Block, a knight who is returning home after the crusades. He meets Death and challenges him to play a game of chess with him and in turn buys time of respite to reach home and meet his love. The film is a journey toward Block's home, his unending quest to know whether God really exists or not, and his meetings with people of multifarious kinds.
The film is filled with intelligent and contemplative dialogue of both kinds,…
Much like Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, The Seventh Seal offers a cross section of Mediaeval life and while doing so it comments on our race, faith and life.
I don't know much about Bergman, but this feels like a personal exploration of an artist trying to figure out how he relates to God, the afterlife and his own mortality. Bergman does this by constructing a deeply philosophical allegory composed of classic iconic imagery and intelligent, contemplative dialogue.
In the Knight we find a man desperately clinging to life. Not because he is afraid to die, but because he needs answers. In a plague infested world he needs to understand why his God is silent. To buy time he challenges Death to…
The Seventh Seal was surprisingly more witty than I expected it to be, but even if it can be quite fun at times (I even laughed at several occasions), it's tone can suddenly change into a more serious one in just a few seconds, without feeling tonally inconsistent. Everyone in the film is constantly surrounded by death in some way. It of course takes place during the Black Death, where death was present everywhere. The one who probably deals the most with death, and even directly with the embodiment of death itself, is Max Von Sydow's character. He tries to deal with his fear of death, and in the very first scene of the movie, Death comes to take him,…
My Great Uncle Jim, may he rest in peace, used to sit next to me at the dinner table every Thanksgiving and ask me "Hey Scott, seen any good movies lately?". Whatever I answered, if it was a film made after 1980 he would immediately show his disinterest and say "They just don't make em' like they used to", and I would roll my eyes and continue eating my dry turkey and canned cranberry sauce. I couldn't help but think of him while watching The Seventh Seal for the first time (that's right, first time, wanna fight about it?).
They really don't make films like The Seventh Seal anymore. At least, if they do, I certainly am missing out on…
Danse Macabre and the philosophical questions of life at the verge of death. The Seventh Seal is the film that put Bergman on the map as a force to be reckon with in the world of cinema. Despite gaining much praise from his previous film Smiles of a Summer Night from the year before it was this film which won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes that set him on the path to iconic status among film critics. This is very much the truth with the film being Bergman's first of many masterpieces of filmmaking to come.
What makes The Seventh Seal on top of the elite is how Bergman works with such smaller scale production values, few locations and…
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
The Seventh Seal is one of the classic movies that I have been putting off watching for quite a while because I know that I won't "get" it in my first viewing, and in some ways I would be underwhelmed by it. It is my own shortcomings, I lack the knowledge and understanding of culture and settings to truly wrap my mind around what is happening.
It is a movie about death, about fearing death, postponing death, and seeking answers. It is terrifyingly personal, philosophical, and symbolic. For a movie so layered, I still have my problems, problems that I have with many other movies in the 50s. The most pressing being the heavy-handedness, almost comical way of acting.
I'm no stranger to Bergman, and I think here is where he is at his most mystical and reflective. Rewatches are sure to come.
A contemplative, poetic tale of life and death. I can't say I'd be eager to watch it again any time soon, but I certainly appreciated the experience. Some great character moments and captivating visuals. Rarely have I seen the entire gamut between serious and silly handled so well. An intriguing work of art.
I wasn't expecting so much humour. Bergman balances the existential crisis at film's core with a mischievous and beautiful humanity, preventing the experience from becoming too dour.
A knight returning from the Crusades finds a rude church still open in the midst of the Black Death, and goes to confession there. Speaking to a hooded figure half-seen through an iron grill, he pours out his heart: "My indifference has shut me out. I live in a world of ghosts, a prisoner of dreams. I want God to put out his hand, show his face, speak to me. I cry out to him in the dark but there is no one there.” The hooded figure turns, and is revealed as Death, who has been following the knight on his homeward journey.
Images like that have no place in the modern cinema, which is committed to facile psychology and…
One of the most stunning looking movies, gorgeous black and white photography, one of the best i have seen to this day. If this was remade today they would probably have death playing angry birds.
beautifully made film, lots to think about.
The Seventh Seal is pretty far from the masterpiece I was hoping for. While it fits a lot of my notions about what constitutes High Art (i.e., an artist struggling to convey some sort of emotional understanding in an aesthetic manner), it's too simplistic. I felt like I was having someone yell at me, "There is no god! There is no afterlife!" over and over. It's not that I feel offended or even disagree, but to me it's a lot less convincing, and more just pestering, than something like Ikiru. The story is overwrought, which makes sense given that it's about Bergman's crippling fear of death, but that causes it to feel really dated for me.
An interesting side-note, Criterion…
This is a remarkable film. An incredibly work of cinema, deep and beautiful, powerful and funny, charming and thought-provoking. It’s a wonderfully made film, with incredible performances, story, and music. But, ultimately, what sets this film apart are two things. First is the absolutely spectacular cinematography, so many unbelievably great shots that have been imitated, evoked, and paid homage to. The second is the story, with it’s deep contradictions and simple unanswered questions. It is a true masterpiece. The first time I saw it I was eighteen, and not at all prepared for it. I didn’t understand it then, but something compelled me to seek it out when I was a bit older. I’m glad I did.
The story is…
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most recent update - Thursday, April 10, 2014, 11:23 PM EST
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