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Thread: The Seventh Seal (Det Sjunde inseglet) (1957)

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    The Seventh Seal (Det Sjunde inseglet) (1957)

    The Seventh Seal (Det Sjunde inseglet) (1957) - ***1/2 (Out of 4)
    An excellent Swedish film, directed by Ingmar Bergman. A knight and his squire return from home the crusades to Sweden which is being swept by the plague. He is approached by Death who's come for him and the knight challenges Death to a game of chess to spare his life. Not knowing, I expected this movie to be focused on the game of chess, when it's really more telling the story of how people dealt with the tumultuous times dealing with the black death that is killing off the people. I'm glad this was the case as it is what really drew me into the story. So many interesting elements. Seeing how the religious officials were blaming people for their sins and telling them it was punishment from God. The most telling scene in the movie was when they were talking to the girl who was about burned alive for being involved with the devil. There was one scene that amused me, probably more than intended...when Death was cutting down the tree with a saw. I really enjoyed the lighter scenes that contrasted the serious ones in the movie. Ultimately I believe it was never the knight's intention to really try and beat Death, but to try to prolong life as long as possible in hopes of accomplishing something positive...in this case helping the couple and their child. This is my first Bergman movie, but it makes me anxious to explore more of his work. While watching, it was easy to spot many parts that have been borrowed/parodied in future films...it was good to finally see the source.
    Rank: #3 in 1957

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    The Seventh Seal is profound cinema. You've only just dipped your toe in the sea that is Bergman, SinjinSB. He is one of my many film heroes, you must see the majority of his work. My favorite film of his is "Sawdust and Tinsel". Others you MUST see before you can die if you care about film history:

    Wild Strawberries
    The Virgin Spring
    Persona
    Fanny and Alexander
    Through a Glass Darkly
    The Magic Flute
    and
    Autumnn Sonata

    Woody Allen calls Bergman the greatest filmmaker ever....
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  3. #3
    jacobic216 Guest
    this is one of my all time favorite foreign films. I am partial to American cinema but this film is better than most domestic ones, that's for sure. I do have much Bergman to catch up on but this was a good place to start for me.

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    Originally posted by Johann
    The Seventh Seal is profound cinema. You've only just dipped your toe in the sea that is Bergman, SinjinSB. He is one of my many film heroes, you must see the majority of his work. My favorite film of his is "Sawdust and Tinsel". Others you MUST see before you can die if you care about film history:

    Wild Strawberries
    The Virgin Spring
    Persona
    Fanny and Alexander
    Through a Glass Darkly
    The Magic Flute
    and
    Autumnn Sonata
    Thanks for the recommendations. I know a few of them are readily available on Criterion DVDs. I'll hafta catch them when I can!

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    I just watched this film for the first time and found it fascinating. I've been going over some of the comments on it on various threads here, and I might try to throw out some topics of discussion here to see what other people think about it.

    It seems that Bergman uses the title "The Seventh Seal" somewhat condescendingly (sarcastically?). The passages quoted in the movie about seven lambs, the seventh seal, seven trumpets, etc. are from the Book of Revelations and are descriptions of the Apocolypse or the Second Coming. I guess a theme in the movie is the fear of this event, and the manipulation of that fear, particularly at this particular time in history with the Crusades and the spread of the plague. It was not unfathomable at the time to think the end was near. Of course, in retrospect, we know that the Apocolypse did not occur at that time. But they weren't sure of that at that time, and the Fire and Brimstone language of the Bible, along with the actions of the clergy, didn't do much to assuage their fears. It's enough to make one cyncial about organized religion.

    But I guess Bergman couldn't completly rule out the idea of the existence of God (Better not ask me the same question). That's the struggle of the Knight in the story. So what's he left with besides his fears and uncertainties?

    Very interesting movie, and it's all very fresh to me right now because I just watched it. I guess the silent woman (symbolizing innocence) is spared at the end? She's not in the group trudging up the stormy hill? And the juggler and his wife are spared at the end? Why?

    The Horror, The Horror. Any comments are appreciated by me.

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    "And when the lamb opened the seventh seal silence descended on earth".

    You have accurately descibed the film, and I think fear of the apocalypse (the 4 horsemen?) is the central theme. It's heavy but kinda philosophical. Religion, belief systems, faith, fear, it's something humans have been wrestling with for millenia.
    In Bergman's skilled hands it becomes an artistic exploration that is quite profound, if you ask me.

    The Seventh Seal is a foriegn classic that will be referred to for many moons.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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    Thanks, Johann, for indulging me in a film101 - type discussion. The movie's certainly got lots to discuss (and most of it's probably already been done!).

    I agree that the subject matter is heavy, but watching the film didn't seem tedious to me, unlike Kevin Smith's "Dogma" or Jaramusch's (sp?) "Dead Man". Sorry, I see that you like that film; The Neil Young score is great!

    The most memorable scene to me in "Seventh Seal" is when the squire is talking with the man painting the mural. The painter asks him if he's scared and the squire says no, he doesn't get scared. Then the squire asks about the people in the painting who look to be quickly fleeing from something or someone. The painter says that these people have been told by the priests that the spread of the plague is the result of God being angry with them (the apocolypse?). The squire pauses, then says he needs a drink. The painter says yes, I think I did scare you.

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    Originally posted by JustaFied
    Thanks, Johann, for indulging me in a film101 - type discussion.

    That's what this site is all about, man. Have you seen any other Bergman? Sawdust and Tinsel is my fave film of his. Similar in some ways to Fellini's La Strada.

    Bergman is working on a new film.
    He's what, a hundred years old now?!

    Funny you mention Smith and Jarmusch in the same sentence. Kevin Smith recently said *notoriously* that he doesn't watch foreign films, saying "Jim Jarmusch and others have done it for me. That works for me". A shocking statement for sure...
    Last edited by Johann; 02-02-2004 at 03:39 PM.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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    That was my first Bergman film. I'll have to check out the others you mentioned. La Strada too.

    The Kevin Smith quote's a little strange. So, what, Jarmusch's in charge of translating foreign films into "American" for our filmmakers now? Hey, we're all part of this crazy world together - he should try reading the subtitles himself.

    Anyway, there's an article about Bergman in Sunday's New York Times. Here, the link, registration required, though it's free:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/08/movies/08RAFF.html

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    What happened to Death?

    In case anyone on these boards is wondering, the actor who played "Death" in The Seventh Seal (Bengt Ekerot) died in 1971 at the age of 51.

    He also starred in Bergman's The Magician (only available on VHS) and was called "a genius" by his director.


    My next Cinema Study is Bergman.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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