The Seventh Seal

The Seventh Seal

The Seventh Seal
Starring: Gunnar Björnstrand, Max von Sydow
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Format: Black & White
Rated: NR
Studio: Criterion Collection
Run Time: 96

Ingmar Bergman’s THE SEVENTH SEAL is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest films ever made, which may scare away some viewers. The film is also a meditation on death and religion, which may also make some people hesitant to watch it. I know I avoided it for some time, but the film is really pretty enjoyable. If you consider yourself to be a true film buff, you really have to see this movie.

Max von Sydow, in the role that made him famous, stars as a disillusioned knight returning from the crusades in the 14th century. He is traveling with his squire, and they meet a number of people along the way, including an acting troop and a blacksmith and his wife. One of these visitors is Death, and the Knight tries to bargain for his life. Death accepts the knight’s offer of a game of chess. As long as the game continues, the knight can live.

The movie is laden with symbolism, often of a religious nature, and filmed in stark black and white. Although the movie is serious and cerebral in tone, there is also a surprising element of humor and lightness. If you approach this film with an open mind, you will probably end up enjoying it, although it isn’t for all audiences. Highly recommended for discerning film fans.

EXTRAS: The DVD includes such extras as the original trailer and a written narrative of Bergman’s career. The best feature is the audio-track recorded by film historian, Peter Cowie. He walks the viewer through the film, pointing out relevant symbolism as well as Bergman’s directorial touches. Fascinating!

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