Day 222: The Seventh Seal (1957)

the seventh sealI am once again using this time to knock off some films off my must see list and today’s film is one that has always peaked my interest since I watched Last Action Hero (if you’ve seen it then you know what I am talking about). The film that I chose for today is The Seventh Seal which was written and directed by Ingmar Bergman (Persona). The film follows a knight by the name of Antonius Block (Max von Sydow) who returns to his native country after ten years of being in the crusades. When he returns things are much different as the country has been struck by the dreadful plague. One day on the beach, he has a chance encounter with Death (Bengt Ekerot) and he challenges Death to a chess match. If he wins, he lives and if he dies then Death can have him. The film also stars Nils Poppe (Private Bom) as Jos, Gunnar Björnstrand (Wild Strawberries) as Jöns, squire, Bibi Andersson (Persona) as Mia- Jos Wife, Inga Gill (Cries & Whispers) as Lisa- Blacksmith’s wife, Maud Hansson (Emil and the Piglet) as witch, Åke Fridell (Summer With Monica) as Plog-Blacksmith, Gunnar Olsson (Summer Interlude) as Albertus Pictor, Church Painter, and Gunnel Lindblom (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) as Girl. 

seventh sealFirst I just want to say that I thought the film was beautiful shot with great scenic shots and very rich textures. I thought the film was very well acted and it had a very good story. I know Max von Sydow would become a cinematic legend here in the states, but I just wanted to say that the MVP to me was his squire in the film Gunnar Björnstrand who had some amazing lines and scenes that just stole the show in my opinion. I thought the film was going to be this long drowned out film about a chess match, but it was much more than that as these two men who have just spent ten years of their lives fighting for God are looking for the answers as to whether he is there, does he exist, and if so does he listen to their prayers? You see them walk around in this land that has been drastically changed for the worse due to the plague and you see how unexcited to live people are until they are confronted with death. One of my favorite scenes in the film has to be the one where Jöns has been told a story about people who whip themselves hoping to be cured of this plague and then when Jos is trying to cheer people up, here comes this group of travelers carrying crosses while some look sick and are being whipped. A very powerful scene as the monk preaches of death and doom to everyone like life is hopeless. I really liked this film a lot and I am probably going to check out a lot more of Bergman’s work in he future. I am going to give the film an A for a final grade.

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