The Seventh Seal (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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For those that are unaware of what this film is, it has become an icon in the art house circle of film. The film won the Special Jury Prize at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival; a testament to its impact in this arena. I don't pay mind to "Artsy" films and usually don't enjoy them, however I took a chance on the original Criterion DVD release and loved it; thus the need and desire to upgrade to Blu Ray.
The story is one of a knight (Antonius Block) and his squire (Jöns) returning from the Crusades only to find that his homeland is being conquered by the plague. He travels the land towards his goal of being reunited with, what he has stated, is a wife whom he married young and has not seen for the 10 years he spent in the Crusades. In the opening scene Anotonius is greeted by Death. In a sequence that has been parodied in several films (Bill & Ted battling Death at Twister comes to mind), Antonius challenges death to a game of chess. If Anotonius wins, he goes on with his life; if he loses, his life comes to an end. The game is not finished in a first sitting and there are several scenes in which the game takes a role.
As he travels, a rag tag band of people accompany him; a smith, the smith's wife, a woman whom Jöns saves from death and rape and two actors and their child with whom Antonius shares strawberries and milk in a scene where he begins to feel at peace.Read more ›
The first disc starts off with an audio commentary from the previous edition by film scholar Peter Cowie. He briefly talks about the impact that the first time he saw The Seventh Seal had on him. He points out where Bergman drew his inspiration for the look of Death. Cowie populates this track with production anecdotes along with an analysis of what we are watching as well as the film's themes.
"Afterword" is a follow-up by Cowie to the 1987 commentary he did for the Criterion Collection. He points out the film's rich humor, despite its reputation as a dark, brooding film about death. This extra gives him a chance to mention things that he failed to when he originally recorded the commentary.
"Max von Sydow Audio Interview" features excerpts of interviews Cowie conducted with the veteran actor in 1988 for a book about the man. He talks about his upbringing and his parents. He recounts his first experience with the theater and how it led to him becoming an actor.
"Woody Allen on Bergman" features a wonderful short film from Turner Classic Movies with Allen talking about his love for Bergman's films over a montage of clips from them.Read more ›
Bergman is one of those things. He won't appeal to everyone. It's arty, yes. It's high concept. But really, when you get down to it, many of his movies are not hard to watch at all. This one might be the most accessible. Max Von Sydow plays a crusading knight returning home wearily after a long campaign. With his servant, he encounters a country besieged by plague and despair. Against this backdrop, he encounters Death, whom he challenges to a chess match. Does he want to live forever? No. He wants answers to his soul-chilling skepticism about God and life.
The performances are all very good, especially Von Sydow and Gunnar Björnstrand as his squire. Dialogue is clipped and spare, but evocative. Sydow has some particularly good scenes in the chapel, confessing his doubts.
Overall, it's easy to see why this film is hailed as a classic. It's deep, but also brief enough and paced well enough to be enjoyable. The ending is a bit cryptic, but not in an off-putting way. It should definitely be viewed by anyone with an open mind for "world cinema."
This is a great transfer. This is what I'm sure we all hoped "Dr. Strangelove" would be. There is a fine, regular grain structure which allows us to see terrific detail, especially in foliage, facial features, and cloth textures. Black levels are solid and consistent, so objects in the shadows are always well delineated.
You MUST make sure your gamma and brightness are set well! This is a film in which a lot of stuff can be lost in the shadows - it is very high contrast. In the opening shot, if your display is crushing blacks, the mountains will look like one black blob, when in fact there is a huge amount of detail and shading on rocks.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Seventh Seal is a fine film, full of humor and verve. I do think the film is just a bit overhyped, especially compared with other Bergman films, but that does not take away... Read morePublished 4 months ago by rbrogan3
The Seventh Seal is more a gothic comedy than a straight up horror movie, but is part of the pantheon of iconic horror monster figures with the famous depiction of Death. Read morePublished 5 months ago by anonymous
Since " Fanny and Alexander " has always been my favorite of Ingmar Bergman films, I avoided this film when I was younger. Read morePublished 5 months ago by nyekele
No negatives to report, all is very exceptional, thank you very much and please share that with your employees, they deserve recognition for there service and care of customersPublished 6 months ago by Raggedy
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