Movie Review | The Seventh Seal
In a era of Restoration and in a valley where those truths are practically common knowledge, it may be initially difficult, for some, to understand Antonius Block, the protagonist of Swedish Filmmaker Ingmar Bergman’s classic The Seventh Seal. As the film begins, Block, a knight returning from the Crusades of the Middle Ages is approached by the personification of Death who agrees to play a game of chess for his life. This sends him on another crusade only this time it is within his soul, as to him the very existence of God comes into question. Yet, within his spiritual plight, there is a revelation of something deeply human that, to one degree or another, encompasses the path of searching for God that we all must walk. And while The Seventh Seal is indeed a difficult and uncomfortable film, full of otherworldly imagery, challenging themes, and several tragic moments, there is ultimately a redemption that comes in the end, especially through the supporting characters Jof and Mia (not coincidentally named Joseph and Mary).
The film’s merits cannot be understated or neglected. Legendary actor Max Von Syndow gives a stirring performance as Antonius and is matched by the supporting cast, especially Bengt Ekerot as Death. The cinematography is beautiful and the editing drives the themes forward potently. Like Citizen Kane in the US, the contemporary films of Kurosawa in Japan, or even Soviet follower Andrei Tarkovsky’s pieces, The Seventh Seal is a masterpiece regardless of its viewers particular enjoyment level. However, enjoyment is not really the right word to describe the process of watching the picture. Anyone approaching The Seventh Seal should be aware of its difficult themes and dark, even depressing, narrative, but should also realize its great power. It is true that The Seventh Seal is meant to challenge us, work with us, yet in the end, for me, it ultimately reminds us that even in the darkness, there is a Light.
Written by: Parker Gehring