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The Seventh Seal (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

76 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Few films have had as large a cultural impact as Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet). Disillusioned and exhausted after a decade of battling in the Crusades, a knight (Max von Sydow) encounters Death on a desolate beach and challenges him to a fateful game of chess. Much studied, imitated, even parodied, but never outdone, Bergman’s stunning allegory of man’s search for meaning was one of the benchmark foreign imports of America’s 1950s art house heyday, pushing cinema’s boundaries and ushering in a new era of moviegoing.

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES:

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • Introduction by Ingmar Bergman, recorded in 2003
  • Audio commentary by Bergman expert Peter Cowie
  • A new afterword to the commentary by Cowie
  • Bergman Island (2006), an 83-minute documentary on Bergman by Marie Nyreröd, featuring in-depth and revealing interviews with the director
  • Archival audio interview with Max von Sydow
  • A 1998 tribute to Bergman by filmmaker Woody Allen
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Bergman 101, a selected video filmography tracing Bergman’s career, narrated by Cowie
  • Optional English-dubbed soundtrack
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Gary Giddins


Stills from The Seventh Seal (Click for larger image)





Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Max von Sydow, Gunnar Björnstrand, Bengt Ekerot, Nils Poppe, Bibi Andersson
  • Directors: Ingmar Bergman, Marie Nyreröd
  • Writers: Ingmar Bergman
  • Producers: Allan Ekelund
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled
  • Language: Swedish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: June 16, 2009
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001WLMOG4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,665 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Seventh Seal (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

179 of 187 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Lerch TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 19, 2009
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
For the record, I own the original DVD release of The Seventh Seal along with this new HD transfer Blu Ray release and have done a little spot checking comparisons between the two.

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.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Cubist on June 22, 2009
Format: DVD
It's safe to say that The Seventh Seal is Ingmar Bergman's most famous film judging by how firmly entrenched it has become in popular culture over the years. Key images and scenes from it, including Death, the chess game, and the Dance of Death, have been emulated and parodied countless times over the years. On a historical level, it has also been credited with helping launch art-house cinema in the 1950s, along with the films Akira Kurosawa and Federico Fellini. However, this has done little to diminish what a powerful meditation on man's search for purpose in the universe it is.

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.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Matthew T. Weflen VINE VOICE on June 27, 2009
Format: Blu-ray
The film:

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."

The Blu-Ray:

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.
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I'm getting this for "Bergman Island"
Criterion is releasing Bergman Island on its own. Amazon has it for $14.99.
May 20, 2009 by Richard Valdez |  See all 2 posts
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The Seventh Seal (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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