» The Seventh Seal Movie Review
by Bernhard Marshall - March 5, 2004
Ingmar Bergman was the best Swedish film maker and
is well known worldwide. His movies were always deep, and had no need of special effects or complex camera movements to display feeling and look interesting.
Of course, his movies aren't for everyone, but if you like to watch movies that have depth and a certain level of originality, Bergman's movies may be what you need. As for "The Seventh Seal", it's an ageless masterpiece.
Released in 1957, "The Seventh Seal" (Det Sjunde Inseglet, in Swedish), it's like Laurence Olivier's "Henry V", it looks like the shooting of a stage play. The scenarios are simple, which keeps the attention of the watcher on the actors.
The story passes in the 14th century Sweden, and starts when a knight, Antonius Block (Max Von Sydow) and his squire Jöns (Gunnar Björnstrand), are on the way back home after fighting in the Cruzades. Their homeland is being devastated by the Black Plague and social disintegration.
That's when Death(Bengt Ekerot) appears to them and demands their lives. Block, whose experience in the battles had made him cynical about the existence of God, challenges Death to play a chess game with him, as a means to give him time to understand some things before being taken away.
The game is paused and restarted several times during Block's trip, and on the way they meet some travellers like a mute girl(Gunnel Lindblom), whom they rescue from the attack of a thief, a family of poor players, Jof, a gentle visionary (Nils Poppe), his wife, Mia (Bibi Andersson), and their infant daughter.
As much as he sees suffering and intolerance during his journey, he also witnesses gestures of kindness from those around him, which makes him realize that his life, in spite of all the pain and destruction, may not have been worthless.
This movie was shot in 35 days and was based on a play written by Bergman called "Trämålning" ("Wood Painting").
It earned several awards, including the Cannes' Special Jury Prize.
The movie's title is based on a versicle of the Bible's Apocalipse, that says: "When the lamb opened the seventh seal, there was a silence in heaven, for half an hour. I saw seven angels before God and he gave them seven trumpets."
One of its most beautiful scenes, is when Block is confessing in a church and he says: "I live in a world of ghosts, prisioner of dreams. I want God to show me his face, to talk with me. I scream in the darkness, but there's no one there."
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Copyright © 2004 Bernhard Marshall