I 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.
First 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.
Ever since the release of the American version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I never understood what the fuss was all about. So, I decided that before I watch that that I should check out the original version which was made in Sweden. The film stars Noomi Rapace (The Drop) as Lizbeth and Michael Nyqvist (John Wick) as Mikael Blomkvist, two different people from different worlds. Mikael is a disgraced reporter who tried to expose a CEO of a company and was basically ruined and sentenced to jail. Lizbeth is very different as she has had a very rough beginning to her life, but works as a spy basically for companies. One day, Mikael is hired by a wealthy man to figure out the disappearance of a niece of his 40 years before. Together with Lizbeth, the two will stop at nothing to figure out what happened to her. The film also stars Sven-Bertil Taube (The Eagle Has Landed) as Henrik Vagner, Peter Haber (Beck) as Martin Vagner, Peter Andersson (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit) as Nils Bjurman, Björn Granath (The American) as Gustav Morell, David Dencik (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) as Janne Dahlman, and the film was directed by Niels Arden Oplev (Dead Man Down).
Let me tell you that if you want to see a movie with some pretty intense and graphic scenes, then this is definitely it. There are a couple of rape scenes in the film that Lizbeth is apart of, but other than the movie is actually smart and engaging. You’re glued to the TV set wondering if Mikael and Lizbeth are going to solve the mystery that has plagued the family. The film is actually very clever in that department because at first I didn’t see it coming. I thought for sure that they were never going to solve the mystery and right when they figure it out, you are like wow I should have seen that coming. At first the film is like two different parts because one part, you are getting to know the both of them separately before they come together. The Lizbeth scenes in the first hour can get a little uncomfortable for some, but if you can get past that then you’ll see that the film is brilliant. The second half is all about them teaming up to figure out the case and it gets a little personal between the two of them. You really see Lizbeth grow a little in the second half of the film. I originally was watching The Drop when I was curious as to what films Noomi Rapace was in and that is when I discovered that she was in these films. I’m definitely glad that I decided to check them out for myself and I look forward to the other films in the series. One thing that I will warn you is that the film is in Swedish with Subtitles. So, if you can also look past that, you will enjoy it for sure. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.