The Seventh Seal (1957)

Ha! I’m mostly on time tonight!
The Seventh Seal (1957)
 Dir. Ingmar Bergman
 Writ. Ingmar Bergman
 Stars: Max von Sydow, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Bengt Ekerot
 Not Rated (but I'd say PG-13)
 96 mins.
 Drama, Fantasy
 IMDB 8.2

This film was one I had to watch for class this past week and it was actually REALLY good! So I decided to make this week’s film review this one.

The Seventh Seal is a film about a man returned from the Crusades to Sweden. He immediately engages into a chess match with Death with the outcome meaning he is allowed to survive. He and his squire set out on a trip towards his castle and, along the way, they run into a jester and his family, and in a time of plague throughout the land and the religious ‘certainties’ of death and evil, they begin to travel together, all the while Death comes to continue the chess match along the way.

This was a weird movie for me. It is definitely not one I would’ve picked to watch myself. I won’t get into all the stuff we talked about in class (It’s a Film History class so it was about the film’s place in the history of film and how to tell), but I’ll talk about it in my usual way, in the ‘how I like it’ way.

I’ll start with the fact that, very shallowly, there are some very pretty people in this movie. Scandinavians are just oddly attractive people. The girl that is held captive as a witch has one of the most beautiful faces I’ve ever seen. It’s oddly distracting for so many people to be pretty in one movie.

One of the biggest draws is the way that, to be a film characterized by theatrical over-acting, this movie has some REALLY GOOD acting performances. Jof (Nils Poppe) particularly delivers some really amazing scenes. The final scene (no spoilers) is really amazing from him. Also, of course, I have to mention Max von Sydow, who is AMAZING in this.

The best part of the movie, is obviously, the story. It’s just such an interesting premise! The concept that this man, Antonius Block, has become so disillusioned after the Crusades that he doesn’t even really know if he believes in God and yet he’s playing chess to try and cheat Death and live, it’s just so interesting. The plague is such an interesting backdrop for the way that this polarized view of Faith is expressed. You have a man who went to war for God who no longer really believes there can be a God with all this suffering, whereas the religious zealots think that the plague is proof of a righteous, angry God, and at the center of all obsession over death is a young man and woman and their baby who represent life so strongly. It’s just such a really well-layered story that is carried out with such a great level of success.

All in all, I definitely recommend watching this film if you ever feel like an old, non-English film sometime.

My Rating: 8/10


About J. Chelsea Williford

Movie addict, reader, writer, pop culture lover.
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4 Responses to The Seventh Seal (1957)

  1. Becky says:

    I started reading your blog beginning with Testament of Youth and went back to read some of the other entries.

    I am adding this to Netflix


    • Oh is it on Netflix for you? That would’ve been nice here but it isn’t on American Netflix. I had to watch the school’s crappy film stream we have at my university for film classes.

      Glad you like the reviews enough to look back through them! Have fun!


  2. garethrhodes says:

    This one really shakes things up – great review! 🙂


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