1001 Movies Club - Seventh Seal, The (1957)

#332. The Seventh Seal (1957)

#316. The Seventh Seal (1957)

Why It's In The Book: "The image of a black-robed, white-faced Death (Bengt Ekerot) playing chess on the beach with a weary, questioning crusader (Max von Sydow) is as deeply-ingrained in the collective memory of moviegoers as King Kong atop the Empire State building, Humphrey Bogart spurning Ingrid Bergman at the airport, Janet Leigh stabbed in the shower, or the Imperial Cruiser passing over the camera. This one scene from the Swedish arthouse release The Seventh Seal epitomizes the momentousness, the excitement, and the impact new types of cinema had at a point when Hollywood certainties were in recession: how else to explain the parodies or references that recur in films as varied as Roger Corman's Masque of the Red Death (1964), Woody Allen's Love and Death (1975), John  McTiernan's Last Action Hero (1993), and Peter Hewitt's Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991), in the last of which Death plays twister? This scene has been spoofed frequently and it's a shame that it has come to represent the whole of the film in popular imagination. There's an unfair sense that writer-director Ingmar Bergman was being overly solemn, setting out to make something that could stand as an archetype of seriousness or artiness. Actually, The Seventh Seal, although rooted in the big themes of Bergman's great period, is a very playful, frequently comic picture, a medieval fable influenced by Bergman’s enthusiasm for the samurai movies of Akira Kurosawa and as concerned with celebrating simple pleasures as indicting complicated torments… the film also celebrates physical and spiritual love, communal artistic expression, food and drink, and natural beauty." -1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Member Ratings

Michaël Parent - 10/10
"Of the many great films directed by Ingmar Bergman The Seventh Seal is one of the most outstanding and celebrated."

Movie Guy Steve - 10/10
"It deals with intense themes and does so beautifully, and in a way that even a naïve film viewer will be able to understand."

Siochembio - 10/10
"Its message of the quest for spirituality still resonates profoundly for me. I can’t watch this without getting caught up in Block’s hopeful frustration."

Klaus Ming - 9/10
"One of the most thoughtful films of the 20th century."

Nicholas Krizan - 9/10
"One of Bergman's most glorious grapples with the futile question of God's eventual existence."

Squish - 9/10
"when Death comes hauntingly into crusader knight Antonius Block's life to take it away, Block replies with an offer of a game of chess, the deal being that Death spare him until the game is done, and, if Antonius should win, he shall be spared of Death's cold grip."

Adolytsi - 8/10
"This is a very introspective film, told through subtle action and standard cinematography that still manages to be striking and memorable."

Alyson - 8/10
"The image of the knight matching wits against Death is beautiful and iconic."

Brian Vs. Movies - 7/10
"Obviously, this is a slapstick comedy that beats Jim Carrey to the talking-through-your-butt routine by 35 years or so.  Now, if that statement/blatant lie piqued your interest in this movie, then you should
probably not watch this film."

Overall Rating: 8.9/10

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