The Seventh Seal
Special Edition, The Criterion Collection
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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.
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The video and sound quality of the disc is very good. No issues there. The packaging is great. I recommend the version sold as The Criterion Collection.
(Bergamn is Allen's favorite director, and close viewing of Allen's films often finds homages to Bergman, including Allen's Interiors).There were also several interviews with Bergman himself.
If you are a Bergman novice, I reccommend this flm as the one to start with. There is plenty of plot action, and the performances are more open and accessible than many more slower paced Bergman films. Every time I watch the movie, I see something new, and while watching this on a recent flight, I realised how well paced the movie actually is.
Bergman's story centers on a knight & his squire returning, disillusioned, from the long(10 years) and bloody fighting of the Holy Crusades. They return to a Danish countryside wracked by the Black Plague. The knight, awakening on the stony beach, is greeted by Death himself, who , in lieu of taking the Knight, agrees to play chess with the Knight, and delay taking him until their game is finished.
In their travels, the Knight & his squire run into many characters, creating a small band they travel with towards teh Knight's castle, until's the movie's final confrontation with Death.At a recent party, the host asked over dinner, for every one to name thier favorite film, and why. I picked this one, and it's beacuse there is , literally , everything in this movie. Bergman speaks to Life, Death ,marriage(good and bad) love, lust & hate. He speaks of religion(bad and good) and faith(not the same thing). He adresses war, and peace and how all lives affect others.
As grim as the film can be, there are many very funny moments as well, and two of the most unforgettable movie characters ever, the Knight & Death. Bergman's Death is often shown and parodied(the end of this film is parodied in Woody Allen's Love & Death, by the way).
The movie is in black & white(late 50's) and subtitled, which, sadly , puts some people off, but it is , still and always, my favorite movie-I recently re-watched Barry Levinson's "Diner" and got a small kick out of watching two of the characters watching the Seventh Seal in a theatre-one character is absorbed, the other talks about going to the beach all the time and never seeing Death there. Sums it all up for me, as to how people see this movie.