Customer Reviews


265 Reviews
5 star:
 (209)
4 star:
 (26)
3 star:
 (8)
2 star:
 (6)
1 star:
 (16)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


161 of 167 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing film, stunning transfer
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...
Published on June 19, 2009 by Stephen Lerch

versus
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A simply PERFECT movie...unlike its presentation
This movie is a milestone in cinema history - no need to question its directing, cinematography, or content - it's genius. Criterion's restoration of the picture is stunning. There's a restoration presentation feature which proves that they've certainly done a great job. A LOT of work has been put into the Bergman filmography as well - excerpts from other movies are...
Published on April 8, 2004 by Patrik Lemberg


‹ Previous | 1 227 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

161 of 167 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing film, stunning transfer, June 19, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Seventh Seal (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
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.

Antonius struggles with his lot in life; questioning the existence of God, begging Death to lend him some of evidence of God's existence (to which Death offers none) and eventually accepting his fate and using his reprieve to save the lives of the actors and their child thus giving meaning to a life which he felt meaningless.

To get to the Blu Ray specific details, the video is transferred from a freshly prepared and restored film master. At least one sequence I recall seeing damage in the original DVD, which is shown in Criterion's original "how was it remastered" extra, is no longer damaged in this transfer. In fact, there was no easily apparent damage to be found anywhere and a more pristine print is likely unattainable. Criterion did a marvelous job on the video transfer and have given the video an upgrade it desperately deserved. It is presented on the Blu Ray disc in it's original aspect ratio of 1.37:1 so anyone expecting a cropped, stretched or otherwise molested image will be disappointed. Everyone expecting a movie presented in its original aspect ratio will certainly be pleased.

Not being a huge expert on things like film grain and what formats present more grain than others when transferred to HD, I have to make it known that there IS grain present in this film. I don't know, however, whether this grain is due to the original format of the masters or if Criterion added said grain during their transfer.

On the audio side, you have the original Swedish mono audio remastered and restored in 24 bit LPCM uncompressed format. There isn't a pop, click or crackle to be found, just clear audio free of defects and hiss. Also available, and I'm unaware of the format of it or if it has any damage/hiss/pop/crackle, is an optional English language dubbed sound track which I did not listen to.

Subtitles are improved from the original DVD release as the subtitles are a more literal translation. I admit to not really noticing a huge difference in this arena, but if Criterion claims to have improved them, I will take their word for it.

For extras you have quite a few new ones (and all the old ones, minus one, detailed below):

-Introduction to the movie by Ingmar Burgman (originally intended for presentation prior to playing the film on Swedish TV)
-Audio commentary by Peter Cowie (same as the original DVD release)
-Afterword on the commentary by Cowie (new)
-Bergman Island (set of mini-documentaries merged to form 1- 83 minute documentary w/ interviews of Bergman; first time on any home video format)
-Archival audio only interview with Antonius Block actor, Max von Sydow
-1989 tribute to Bergman by Woody Allen
-Original trailer
-Bergman 101 (Peter Cowie gives a selected filmography of Bergman's work)

For packed in extras, you will receive a printed booklet with an essay by film critic Gary Giddins. It's a very high quality printing.

The only extra that doesn't seem to have made the transfer to HD, as it was really specific to the original DVD release, was the Restoration Demonstration. Everything else from the original is included, along with quite a few, very worthy, additions.

If you own the original DVD release and want to own the definitive edition of the movie, you shouldn't hesitate to pick up this Blu Ray disc.

If you own the original and don't really care for the film or don't feel the need to upgrade, then nothing on this release will change your mind.

If you don't own the previous release and want to see what all the "fuss" is about and want it in as perfect a presentation as is possible, buy this on Blu Ray.

As a note, the new DVD release is "matted" in order to ensure every TV/display shows off as much of the release as possible. Only the Blu Ray disc retains the original 1.37:1 ratio.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


122 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest films on the meaning of life., February 17, 2000
By 
smarmer "smarmer" (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is the film that transformed me from a fan of movies to a lover of cinema. I have probably seen this film more than any other single one - certainly over a dozen times over the years. Some of the Amazon customer reviewers felt the film moved too slowly, or was not stimulating enough in black and white. For such moviegoers this film is definitely not for you. However, for those who enjoy films that speak on many different levels and provoke thoughts that linger with the viewer, this is a masterpiece.
The action takes place in Europe after the crusades. A knight, Antonius Bloch, is returning to his home in Denmark. He is accompanied by his squire. Block is an idealist who joined the crusades because he wanted to do something significant in his life. However the crusades turned out to be completely disillusioning. On his journey he notes that the plague is sweeping across the land. Superstition reigns, along with a severe version of religion. His squire is not as bothered by what he has seen, having been much more cynical all along. Still, the squire has a strong sense of justice that is demonstrated when he saves a girl from an attack.
Along the way a number of people join with the knight for protection. These include a troupe of actors, a blacksmith and his faithless wife, and the woman the squire rescued. Death is lurking, and confronts the knight, informing him that his time has expired. The knight protests that he cannot die before having accomplished something significant. Death says, "They all say that," but the knight insists, and successfully challenges Death to a chess match. This gives the knight additional time to make his life worthwhile.
The knight has tried to accomplish the BIG act based on a profound sense of life and of God. The juggler and his wife have a much simpler idea of life, God, and goodness. As Death is on the verge of winning the chess match and taking everyone in the knight's party, the juggler wakes his wife and child to flee. The knight recognizes that the juggler has seen Death, and upsets the chessboard to distract his opponent. This gives the juggler just enough time to escape. Death asks the knight whether the delay was worth it, and the knight gives an enigmatic smile. He has accomplished his worthy act, not by saving the world, but by saving just one family.
Everything about this fine film is outstanding, from the acting to the cinematography to the direction. The Criterion transfer restores the film to the best possible condition. The commentary tracks are very informative. Many movies have parodied The Seventh Seal, including Woody Allen and Bill and Ted's Adventure series. None of that has taken away from its greatness. I give this film the highest recommendation.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


118 of 125 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of a Kind Masterpiece, July 24, 2003
By 
Westley (Stuck in my head) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Ingmar Bergman's THE SEVENTH SEAL is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest films ever made, which may scare away some viewers. The film is also a meditation on death and religion, which may also make some people hesitant to watch it. I know I avoided it for some time, but the film is really pretty enjoyable. If you consider yourself to be a true film buff, you really have to see this movie.
Max von Sydow, in the role that made him famous, stars as a disillusioned knight returning from the crusades in the 14th century. He is travelling with his squire, and they meet a number of people along the way, including an acting troop and a blacksmith and his wife. One of these visitors is Death, and the Knight tries to bargain for his life. Death accepts the knight's offer of a game of chess. As long as the game continues, the knight can live.
The movie is laden with symbolism, often of a religious nature, and filmed in stark black and white. Although the movie is serious and cerebral in tone, there is also a surprising element of humor and lightness. If you approach this film with an open mind, you will probably end up enjoying it, although it isn't for all audiences. Highly recommended for discerning film fans.
EXTRAS: The DVD includes such extras as the original trailer and a written narrative of Bergman's career. The best feature is the audiotrack recorded by film historian, Peter Cowie. He walks the viewer through the film, pointing out relevant symbolism as well as Bergman's directorial touches. Fascinating!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remastered and Loaded Up with New Extras!, June 22, 2009
By 
Cubist (United States) - See all my reviews
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. He says that The Seventh Seal is his favorite Bergman film. This is an eloquent tribute to the man and his films.

Also included is a trailer.

The second disc includes "Bergman Island," an impressive feature-length documentary about Bergman that was released in 2006. Bergman reflects on his life and career, coming across as a modest and humble man who tells all kinds of engaging anecdotes from his life. There are many clips from his films and excellent behind-the-scenes footage.

Finally, there is "Bergman 101," a crash course on the life and career of Bergman by Cowie. He narrates over stills and clips from the man's films. This is an excellent primer that traces Bergman's career arc and touches upon many of his films while also providing factoids and analysis.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good film, reference-quality Blu-Ray, June 27, 2009
This review is from: The Seventh Seal (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (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. SO: if you do not have a disc like Digital Video Essentials, at the very least pop in a Lucasfilm disc to use the "THX Calibrator." It has a contrast/brightness pattern that should get you set right.

Extras include a LONG documentary/interview piece with Bergman in his later life, presented in 1080i. Commentary is provided by a film scholar.

***********

If you are a fan of Bergman or this film, this is a no-brainer. There is detail here you'd never see on a DVD, and the black levels (so important on a b/w film like this) are much deeper and more consistent than any SD presentation could allow. Extras are a nice complement, and for the price, you really can't beat this, especially compared to what Criterion releases cost just a few short years ago.

If you're more of a neophyte to this kind of cinema, you should rent first. See if you like this sort of thing. Don't be daunted by the reputation of this and other Criterion releases. Give it a good honest try. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


60 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The truth about life..., December 16, 1999
There is no god, there is only man.
THE SEVENTH SEAL (1957) remains to this day one of the most profound and enigmatic explorations through man's eternal yearning for the meaning of life. Directed by acclaimed Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, THE SEVENTH SEAL tells the story of Antonius Block (Max von Sydow) a knight on his way back to Sweden after having spent 10 years fighting in the crusades.
I should make clear that this is only the initial setting of the story, and that in fact the film is populated by a flurry of wonderful characters. Indeed it seems that throughout the film we meet all sorts of beings: Jöns (Gunnar Björnstrand) the just and valiant squire, Jof (Nils Poppe) and Mia (Bibi Andersson) who perfectly capture the innocence and purity of love, a dying young witch (Maud Hansson) who kept remainding me of Joan of Arc, a young girl who follows the squire (Gunnel Lindblom) and who barely says a word throughout the movie, but whose eyes are so alive and expressive; and perhaps the most daunting and chilling performance of all, Death itself (Bengt Ekerot).
It is said that war can break a man and drive him into madness and solitude. In the SEVENTH SEAL Antonius seems to have lost all his faith and desperately seeks to find the answer to the one question that haunts him the most: does God exist? Death meets Antonious at the start, Antonious realizes that perhaps the end is near and in an effort to redeem himself he challenges Death to a game of chess. The end result is one the most fulfilling (and awkwardly bizarre) conclusions I have seen in a movie.
The Criterion Collection DVD is simply by far the best option for anyone interested in the movie. With a wonderful and insightful commentary by film historian Peter Cowie and a well presented filmography on Bergman, the DVD edition can satisfy even the most rabid Bergman fan, or prove an excellent starting point for those who are not familiar with Bergman's work (like myself). The movie is presented in it's original 1.33:1 (full frame) aspect ratio in black and white, in Swedish (option English) language track and English subtitles. I highly recommend this film.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bergmans' Dark Masterpiece, July 29, 2002
I came into this film with possibly unrealistic expectations. I had heard so much about it, that I thought there was no way it could live up to the hype.
It did.
The Seventh Seal is an amazing movie. It concerns a disillusioned Swedish knight (von Sydow) who returns from the Crusades to find his home being ravaged by the plague. On the shore, he meets a masked robed figure who claims to be Death. Rather than running in terror, the world-weary knight challenges him to a game of chess. The game is played over several days, during which Bloc gets a look at how the townspeople are reacting in religious terror to the plague.
There are two parts of the film to be addressed. Bergman's writing is anything but subtle. It is the writing of a young artist just finding his voice. He is trying to answer question life, God and morality. The film asks how one can maintain faith when God is silent. In this respect, the film is powerful in its bluntness. Consider the masterful scene in which von Sydow confesses his questioning of faith to a man he thinks is a priest. How he manages to find life, hope and possibly meaning amidst the rubble of his home in the family of entertainers. The movie becomes a dark comedy in the late stages, including one of my favorite all-time movie lines as an actor begs for his life.
Bergman's directing is also excellent. The aforementioned confession scence is remarkable. The closing scene justifiably famous. This is one of those films where the black and white medium is perfect.
This movie is well worth your time, even with he hefty price tag.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A simply PERFECT movie...unlike its presentation, April 8, 2004
By 
Patrik Lemberg (Tammisaari Finland) - See all my reviews
This movie is a milestone in cinema history - no need to question its directing, cinematography, or content - it's genius. Criterion's restoration of the picture is stunning. There's a restoration presentation feature which proves that they've certainly done a great job. A LOT of work has been put into the Bergman filmography as well - excerpts from other movies are included - it took me close to an hour to watch and read through it ...HOWEVER: these things seem quite indifferent when one actually tries to enjoy the main feature, the movie, where the audio and the picture constantly are out of sync. There are a few minutes at 45 minutes into the movie, and at 75 minutes into the movie where it looks OK, but for the most part there is, at least, a 0.25-0.5 second delay on either the audio or the film (it varies - in the first half of the movie the audio is late). It's really irritating to see someone speak a word or two (in silence) before the line in audio enters - especially for me, since my first language is Swedish. I'm highly disappointed in this - 11th - DVD production of Criterion. On some of Tartan's presentations of Bergman's films there are out-of-sync dilemmas, too, but not through whole movies.
Another star is lost by Criterion's subtitles; they're very inaccurate when it comes to swearing and sarcasm. If a Swede says "jävla(r)", "helvete", "satan", or "fan" (which are the strongest curse-words), SOME of them HAVE to mean either "f--k", "devil", "damn", "bloody" or even "AWFUL", but nope...the subtitles here are as "clean" as the language in the bible.
If you want to see an incredibly PERFECT presentation of a Bergman film on Criterion, I suggest buying "Wild Strawberries", where the restoration, sound, SYNCHRONIZATION, subtitles, commentary, and 90-minute documentary are perfectly presented and displayed. I'm not a very proud owner of this edition of "The Seventh Seal".
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Chess Game - Black and White move simultaneously !, January 27, 2000
This review is from: The Seventh Seal [VHS] (VHS Tape)
<It is not a date movie>, <It lacks color>, it is just "black and white" ...
No, Ingmar Bergmann, whom I believe to be one the greatest film creators of all times, did not make "The Seventh Seal "to "entertain" us. It happened years ago when I was introduced to Bergman by my girlfriend while we were dating. We were together when we watched Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, The Virgin Spring, The Magician, The Silence, and a few others of Bergmann's earlier black and white films.
"The Seventh Seal" is compeling evidence of how much an artist can communicate with image, black and white image ! Universal ! The essence of all time philosophical questions and pursuits: the quest to understand the meaning of life, to find and join with the ultimate essence, its creator, the one responsible for giving and taking away. The knight who escaped death while fighting the crusades may very well represent our own consciousness. Even as our daily pursuits are more "down-to-earth" and deal with "the tangible",. aware or not, we ask questions, we seek answers, we feel compelled to want to know what life is, and, as it happens with so many things, we start to appreciate them even more so when we are about to lose them. We value life when we face death.
It is a film rich in symbols, with beautiful and compeling visuals. Each and every image means something. Each and every word said means something. Visually, The Virgin Spring may be even more impressive, but The Seventh Seal truly is a "black and white" masterpiece. Yes, color can add to the artistic expression - consider Kurosawa's Dodes `ka-den and Kagemusha, Antonioni's Blow-Up, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and The Duelists, Tarkowski's Solaris and The Sacrifice. with its stunning cinematography by famous Sven Nykvist who was behind the camera when Bergman shot The Seventh Seal. Of course, it is enticing to know what Bergmann might have done had color been available to him in 1956 when he made the film., but does The Seventh Seal really "lacks" color ?
Life as a Game of Chess - a metaphor ! White (life) against Black (death - the very negation of life). Who won ? A child is born - life triumphs over death, as the film ends on a cheerful note: life (God's investment in Humanity) is everlasting - as one dies, another one is born !
VHS or DVD - Bergmann's The Seventh Seal is one of the greatest artistic achievements of all times.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, suprising in its bluntness, March 7, 2004
By 
I approached this movie with few preconceived notions; I had heard of it but knew little in the way of reviews. I started it at 2 a.m. and it managed to hold my attention and keep me interested for the length of the film. It begins with Death approaching a knight (Max von Sydow) on his way home after 10 years warring in the distant Crusades. He strikes a bargain with Death, offering a game of chess. If the knight wins, he lives, loses and he dies. The movie is basically a vehicle for director Bergman's musings on the existence of God, wondering if there is only a great emptiness. Bergman does not mince around the philosophical points; he takes it straight to the viewer with frank dialogue. I was surprised by this boldness; I guess I am too used to the timid, politically correct inanities of current filmmakers. My favorite scene takes place in the confessional of a church the knight and his squire (played by Gunnar Bjornstrand who does a great job) stumble across. The knight wonders aloud to the priest on the emptiness of his faith and his wish to be rid of God. He states that God is simply a construct of man, who craves a way to deal with his fear of the void. The priest turns out to be Death, who has been stalking the Knight on his travels. This movie is not as morose as its plot suggests, there are plenty of scenes where laughter is the response. I think the movie has weathered time pretty well, even with its sometimes cheap looking costumes and set pieces (the walls of the knight's castle move in the wind and are clearly canvas). It was refreshing to watch a movie that actually had a deeper meaning other than being pretext for fart jokes or gratuitous violence. Incidentally, I was not surprised to see that those who panned this movie recommended "Go", "Last Action Hero" and "Raw Deal" instead...all pillars of modern cinematic excellence.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 227 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Seventh Seal (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
$39.95 $28.59
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.