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

4.8 out of 5 stars 86 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 Features

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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 (86 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001WLMOG4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,172 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Seventh Seal (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: DVD
1957 was one of my favorite years for film, and `Det Sjunde Inseglet' is one of the many reasons why. One of Ingmar Bergman's finest films (and that is saying a lot, since he is one of the greatest directors of all time), `Det Sjunde Inseglet' is a startling glimpse at death and religion and the impact those two very important subjects have on life. With stunning performances (Gunnar Bjornstrand gives perhaps my favorite supporting male performance of all time) as well as crisp and engrossing black and white photography, `Det Sjunde Inseglet' is nearly as beautiful as it is powerful.

The films core is found on a desolate beach where Antonius Block meets Death and challenges him to a game of chess.

This game represents the game we all play, that of life. Death is an inevitable end, a course we cannot cheat (for there is no way that Block can actually `beat' Death), but one has the opportunity to give the game their best effort. Thus, one has the chance to embrace life while they have it. Block has seen a lot in his lifetime (war and plague to mention just two) and so his faith has begun to waver; his doubts surfacing about God and his concern for humanity. This theme of religion (or better yet, spirituality) is touched upon in the majority of Bergman's films, but the poignancy and emotional relevance has never been stronger than it is in `Det Sjunde Inseglet'.

I find hesitation in really explaining much more of the film, for it is an experience that one should walk into blind almost. There is so much to uncover here, but what is so wonderful about filmmakers like Bergman is that they present a message one has to really uncover themselves. There are many ways to interpret this film, and no which way is really correct.
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