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Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Seventh Seal (1957, Swedish)

Director: Ingmar Bergman

Cast: Gunnar Björnstrand (Jöns), Bengt Ekerot (Death), Max von Sydow (Antonius Block), Nils Poppe (Jof), Bibi Andersson (Mia)

Plot: A Knight, Antonius Block, returns to his homeland Sweden with his squire (Jons), from a ten year long Crusade, only to find his country in the clutches of infamous plague--the Black Death (mid-1300s). On his journey home, he encounters the physical form of death itself (Bengt Ekerot) and engages him in an intriguing game of Chess to actually buy some time for some purpose of his.

In this Swedish masterpiece the director, very artistically, collaborates tragic events of Europe caused by a widespread plague (bubonic plague-symptoms include a Swollen gland) with the "Book Of Revelation" primarily focusing on Apocalypse.

The main characters have been chosen such that they represent various personalities and mental states of the sufferers. For example, the knight represents a delusional person who isn't sure if his Crusade had any point to it, his squire--a good man at heart--wonders where is God in this hour of need, the priest represents a power hungry man who instills fear in the society for his own benefit. The young actor couple and their child represent a God loving family who will survive the calamity.

The whole country is suffering and there is confusion everywhere. People are punishing themselves to achieve absolution.

Among all this hardship there still are people who are jolly and enjoying their lives to the hilt. Some of them are realizing their true selves. Even the Knight finds a purpose to his life and saves the young family from the clutches of Death.
He eventually, with his wife and followers, dances with the Death.

This 'dance' has become an iconic image of world cinema.

A definite must watch.


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