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The Seventh Seal 1957

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4.4 out of 5 stars (61) IMDb 8.2/10
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Antonius Block (Max Von Sydow), a knight, returns from a 10-year crusade with his squire, Jons (Gunnar Bjornstrand), to find his homeland ravaged by the plague. When the black-cloaked figure of Death (Bengt Ekerot) appears to claim them, Block, whose war experiences have left him cynical about the existence of God and the afterlife, challenges Death to a game of chess to stall for time and gain some insight into the meaning of life before passing on. The game is intermittently paused and resumed during the journey home while Block and Jons meet several traveling companions, including a mute girl (Gunnel Lindblom) whom they save from a bandit, and a family of poor traveling players--Jof, a gentle visionary (Nils Poppe); his wife, Mia (Bibi Andersson); and their infant. Block witnesses much suffering and anguish along the way (an encounter with a woman accused of witchcraft who is about to be burned at the stake is especially jarring) but also finds evidence of human kindness and love, prompting him to realize that even a single gesture of goodwill might make the long struggle of his existence worthwhile. The title of Ingmar Bergman's highly acclaimed allegorical film stems from the Book of Revelation.

Starring:
Bengt Ekerot, Anders Ek
Rental Formats:
DVD, Blu-ray

Product Details

Discs
  • Feature parental_guidance
Runtime 1 hour 32 minutes
Starring Bengt Ekerot, Anders Ek, Max von Sydow, Ake Fridell, Bertil Anderberg, Nils Poppe, Bibi Andersson, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Gunnel Lindblom
Director Ingmar Bergman
Genres Drama
Studio PALISADES TARTAN
Rental release Limited availability
Main languages Swedish
Subtitles English
Discs
  • Feature parental_guidance
Runtime 1 hour 32 minutes
Starring Bengt Ekerot, Anders Ek, Max von Sydow, Ake Fridell, Bertil Anderberg, Nils Poppe, Bibi Andersson, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Gunnel Lindblom
Director Ingmar Bergman
Genres Drama
Studio TARTAN FILMS
Rental release Limited availability
Main languages Swedish
Subtitles English

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
This item has not been released yet and is not eligible to be reviewed.

Top Customer Reviews

By Bob Salter TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 Aug. 2009
Format: DVD
The true power of a film can be measured in the way its images remain with you many years later. This is very true in my case with "The Seventh Seal", its images having engraved themselves in my subconscious. The films seemingly bleak vision of mans destiny makes for uncomfortable viewing. It is a film that forces you to examine your own beliefs, something that few films have dared to do. As we are all so different our conclusions will vary. I for one see optimism in the films ending, which many might not.

In the film Max Von Sydow plays Antonius Block a medieval knight returning to Sweden from the Crusades. He returns to a land ravaged by the Black Death. It is a journey through a haunted wasteland inhabited by demented monks and a cult for self-flagellation. It is a glimpse into the very jaws of hell and one is reminded of Dante's inferno. As the knight progresses through this horrifying and devastated land he treats his journey as an opportunity to gain a knowledge of the nature of God and his relationship with man. What little that is left of his faith is sorely tested. In the film he meets death in a game of chess. It is a contest that can ultimately have only one winner. Block is of mere flesh and blood like us, and his fate is sealed at birth. But he stalls for time as he tries to understand God. The knight takes a varied group of characters under his protection as the game is played out. He is now playing for other lives in addition to his own.

The film is clearly influenced by early medieval paintings which were not shy in showing the consequences of unbelief. Sinners being disposed of in a myriad of grisly ways. Something that would have no doubt preyed on the simple minds of the peasant population of the time. It was a roughshod way of keeping the pleb's in line.
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Format: DVD
I'm writing this review having just learned of the death of Ingmar Bergman at the age of 89. It's fitting then that I should now return to a particular work that the legendary filmmaker wrote and directed fifty years ago, which expresses in explicit and philosophical detail, his overriding fear of death, and how this particular fear is one that is has been used and exploited for centuries by the Church for it's personal and ideological gain. As a result, The Seventh Seal can be described as an abstract allegory pertaining to the notion of life and death, as an expressionist horror film rife with iconic imagery and a foreboding atmosphere of Medieval torment and savage, plague-ridden doom, or as an almost sardonic satire on the catholic church, on war, and on organised religion in general.

I suppose at this point in time the film is most famous for it's central motif, in which a noble knight returning home from the crusades plays a series of chess games with the black-clad figure of death in an attempt to win back his life and return to his family. The games appear at different intervals throughout the film, which is structured episodically, taking in a scene of tranquil reflection and eventual performance from a group of travelling actors, the appearance of a religious procession marking a disease ridden town as unclean, and a scene in which a young woman is burned at the stake as a heretic. Thusly, the film is structured to become darker and more foreboding as our central character and his assistant make their way closer to home; taking the travelling actors along with them and trying to cheat death at every single turn.
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Format: DVD
From the very famous chess game between Antonius Block and Deathh on the beach to their skipping silhouettes on the hill the beauty and artistry of this masterpiece is maintained. Incoperating philosophy and the post-crucade life of Antonius Block as he battles (non-physically) with and runs from death the film embodies the greatness and individuality of Ingmar Bergman. The film, starring Max von Sydow (notorious Bergman collaborator; in films such as The Exorcist and Minority Report) recieves ten out of five stars from me.
However, due to the DVD I have to remove a star - not only are there hardly any features (apart from a photo gallery, text and some advertising) the presentation of the movie is highly injust - notably the poor state of the subtitles in comparison to Criterion Collection edition.
However, as this is the only version available in the UK at this current time I either recommend you buy this as an easy solution or track down a different edition (namely Criterion).
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Format: Blu-ray
I have a Panasonic DMP-BD 10 A Blu Ray player bought in the United States, and I had no problems whatsoever watching this movie, so I can confirm that is region free and for all the world to enjoy (as long as you understand sweedish or english). There's a misleading commentary here, stating that the item is "region coded", but if you check the "comments" about that entry, you will find that this person corrected himself.

About the Blu Ray, I have this few notes:

-The format is 1:37:1, which means a full screen presentation. This is claimed to be the original format, so there was nothing to do about it, except maybe trim the image up and down to force a widescreen aspect ratio, which, fortunatelly, they didn't do.
So it's up to you what to do: You can zoom in the image, if your TV allows that, or stretch the image to fit your widescreen, and since its in HD, you will find that the loss of detail won't be great. The problem is (if you chose to zoom instead of stretch) that you will need the complete original screen to read the subtitles, or make adjustments in that regard so you don't lose them.
I personally enjoyed the movie in its original aspect ratio. It's the better way to appreciate it.

-Of course, you have the option to remove the english subtitles (the only ones included) and hear the english dubbed track. The problem is that it won't ever translate so well (just compare what you hear with the english subtitles) and also this particular track is muffled and lacking in fidelity, just as it was taken from an old source. On the contrary, the original sweedish track is clear and full of detail.

-The transfer to HD is amazing.
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