The Seventh Seal

The Seventh Seal ★★★★★

When film and literature tackle the theme of death anxiety it is usually done indirectly. For example, the director sometimes creates characters paranoid of something more tangible, or observes the struggle of questioning religion and an afterlife without ever explicitly stating that they are scared of dying. But every so often, directors such as Bergman or Kaufman (and authors like DeLillo and Roth) bravely tackle the underlying theme head-on. It is because of these artists that we have some of the most powerful but discomforting works ever created.

The Seventh Seal gives us a knight coming home from the crusades to be only greeted by the plague. Death is at every turn, and he himself is now contemplating his belief in an afterlife. He is no longer content with "faith and conjecture". The knight needs God to reach out his hand, to speak to him, to give him something real. He, and many in his party, are now coming to terms with their own mortality and as the film goes on, the conversations between the knight and the personified form of Death act as the same dialogue that nearly every human will have with themselves one day. When a film moves you to tears, it is typically because you are overwhelmed by happiness or sadness, but The Seventh Seal manages to overwhelm one with fear.


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