Sunday, February 2, 2020

Movie Review: "The Seventh Seal" (1957)

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Year: 1957
Rating: NR
Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

Ingmar Bergman is a name that is highly celebrated among cinephiles and film scholars. Despite being self-proclaimed "viewers of everything," Bergman's movies have always been a cinematic blind spot for us. So, we made our first effort in correcting that egregious error by watching his 1957 classic "The Seventh Seal." The film follows a knight named Antonius Block (Max von Sydow) who, upon returning from the Crusades, is approached by Death (Bengt Ekerot) himself and is told that his life is coming to an end. Block challenges Death to a game of chess, hoping it will buy him enough time to reflect on his beliefs and to do one purely good deed. This task may be difficult as the world he has returned to is being ravaged by the Black Plague and religious zealots who have capitalized on fear and suffering to spread their puritanical ideas of faith.
Bengt Ekerot and Max von Sydow play chess in Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal"
Bengt Ekerot and Max von Sydow play chess in Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal." (Image Source)
After only one viewing of just one film, we can see right away why Ingmar Bergman is such a heralded director. "The Seventh Seal" is brilliantly written, excellently acted, and spectacularly crafted. It deals with weighty philosophical subject matters in a daunting-but-insightful manner. The dialogue between characters is completely engaging, even poetic at times. They discuss subjects like life, death, faith, and nihilism in a world dealing with the rapid spread of the Black Plague. Some believe it is the end times, others believe God is punishing people for their sins, and some remain blind to the suffering of others and exploit it for their own personal gain. The story is very moving, not in a way that will necessarily make you cry, but more moving on a spiritual level that will make examine our purpose and existence on this great, big, hurling ball of rock and water in the middle of space. It's simultaneously the kind of movie you never want to experience again and the kind you want to rewatch immediately. There is a lot to unpack and a lot to take in here, and we're sure we will have to watch it several times to see what we may have missed. It is also filled to the brim with striking, symbolic, stunning imagery that drew an emotional reaction from us instantly. Each and every shot is meticulously crafted for maximum thought provokingness.
Dance of Death Danse Macabre at the end of "The Seventh Seal"
Death leads his followers in the Dance of Death in "The Seventh Seal" (1957). (Image Source)
"The Seventh Seal" is quite a film! We cannot wait to watch Bergman's other movies and hope they are as memorable as this one.

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.2/10
RT Rating: 93%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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