Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Drama,Foreign The Seventh Seal – Death and All His Friends

The Seventh Seal – Death and All His Friends

Disillusioned knight Antonius Block (Max von Sydow) and his squire Jöns (Gunnar Björnstrand) return to Sweden after fighting in the Crusades. Sweden is being ravaged by the plague. Death (Bengt Ekerot) comes for Block, who challenges death to a chess game.

As of the writing of this review, The Seventh Seal is the best Swedish film I have ever seen. It is perfectly shot, flawlessly cast, impeccably written and utterly grim. This could arguably be called the best bleak film of all time.

If this were a typical film, it is likely that my review would largely consist of covering some of the aspects of filmmaking that went into this film and explaining my opinions on the film’s overall quality. This is not a typical film.

Everyone has to face death eventually. This grim truth is one of the film’s central themes. As Block poises his wits against death in their iconic chess match, we as the audience ask ourselves how we would react to death.

But Ingmar Bergman’s masterpiece is about more than just death. Block, the knight who plays chess with death, says that he is not afraid of death, what he fears is something far deeper. He’s searching for meaning in a life of uncertainties and he fears he has found none.

As he traverses through a world wrought with pain, Block actively inquires in a desperate attempt to discover whether or not there is a God. Jöns is skeptical about the existence of an almighty creator. Jof, a juggler, has supernatural visions which others doubt, but that he still firmly believes in. The film’s exploration of the validity of religion is not just a one-sided argument, it takes all the different sides of the issue into account.

Although this film is set in the middle ages, it is still incredibly relevant to today’s day and age. Ingmar Bergman’s film depicts a world of physical suffering and spiritual emptiness; both aspects are very much present in today’s contemporary society.

The film doesn’t explicitly provide us with the answers to its deep inquiries. It leaves the end thinking up to us. Why is there suffering? Is there really a God?  Is this life really all that there is? These are only a few of the questions which The Seventh Seal asks.

Much of Swedish cinema seems to be devoted to the art of conveying grim, unfortunate truths about the world we live in. The Seventh Seal is the finest example of this class of films.

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