The Seventh Seal - cinema by Ingmar Bergman
Not every film made is replete with action, adventure, and their consequent joys and sorrows. Bergman's famous film goes where cinema hardly treads these days - it's a meditation on death and the search for meaning between birth and death.
Set in the Middle Ages, during the time of the Christian Crusades against Islam, a knight, played by Max von Sydow, appears on a beach and in the presence of anthropomorphized death. They play an ongoing chess game, which is meant to determine the knight's death. In the several interims, the knight and his squire encounter the best and worst in humankind. The squire is a bit hardboiled during this series of encounters, the knight seemingly hopeful that some sort of knowledge will allow him to see both life and death in some semblance of perspective - a perspective that will engender meaning.
The movie was filmed in the 1950s. By the standards of today's acting, cinematic technology, and storytelling, the minute-by minute progress of the movie seem at times as inane as Gilligan's Island or I Love Lucy. But perhaps this was by Bergman's design - depicting life's inanities as sandwiched between the rigors of birth and the helplessness of death. Still, the movie provokes viewers to a new relationship to both life and death, and that's all to the good.
image via originalprop.com
This particular version of the movie also contains a documentary with Bergman, an interview with von Sydow, and several commentaries. All in all, a worthy testament to cinema as art.
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