Det Sjunde Inseglet (1957)
directed by Ingmar Bergman
starring Max von Sydow, Gunnar Björnstrand and Bengt Ekerot
They play throughout the entire movie as Block and his squire, Jöns (Gunnar Björnstrand) make their way to his castle. On their journey they encounter Jof (Nils Poppe) and Mia (Bibi Andersson), a couple of performers, and their infant son. It’s a simple and straightforward enough plot, but The Seventh Seal actually opens with a enigmatic quote from Revelations that illustrates Block’s deepest torment, and sets the one for a film that is anything but simple:
there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
Different interpretations of this Bible verse point to the silence as the calm before the storm, as in a quiet moment after which God will bring down his wrath upon the Earth. The Lamb is Jesus Christ, the only one worthy of receiving the knowledge beyond the seals he gets to open.
In the movie, Block’s Swedish village is ravaged by the Black Plague, which the local inhabitants attribute to being punishment from God. But don’t try too hard to establish any further connections between the bible’s seals tale and what happens in the movie, as it doesn’t seem like Bergman was too preoccupied with the quote’s origins. Instead, silence becomes the affliction every religious person who believes in a superior being has gone through: doubt.
— Antonius Block, in Det Sjunde Inseglet (1957)
Block returns from the crusades tired, painfully aware of his mortality, feeling disconnected from people, and most of all, from God. No doubt the horrors he has seen and done in the war have shaken his belief in a being that is supposed love and protect them all. And to Block it seems that worse than a neglecting God, is the total non-existence of one – the horror of nothingness.
Opposite Block’s faltering faith is Jof’s simple acceptance, and Jöns straightforward opposition to religion and to a church that in the 14th century encouraged self-harm and negation of pleasure in favor of a promised afterlife. To Jöns, virtue lies in living: But feel, to the very end, the triumph of being alive!. Now this could all have been a rather dull, outdated morality/religious allegory, were it not so cleverly and compellingly executed.
Death, in Det Sjunde Inseglet (1957)
Death as a character and image is undoubtedly the most memorable and acclaimed part of The Seventh Seal (1957), but it’s hardly the only one to marvel at. Besides a stunning work of black of white cinematography, Bergman’s classic from the 50s is incredibly well written with contrasting and charismatic characters, a fitting score, and solid performances. Its fantastical and theatrical approach gives way to enigmatic and iconic lines, and an often overlooked witty dialogue with a layered depth that has me knowing multiple viewings are encourage and needed to fully appreciate this movie.
Det Sjunde Inseglet – The Seventh Seal (1957)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Directed by Ingmar Bergman
Writen by Ingmar Bergman
Starring Max von Sydow, Gunnar Björnstrand, Bengt Ekerot
Running Time: 1h36min Genre: Drama, Fantasy
Synopsis A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.
Previous Blind Spot Entries:
A Place in The Sun (1951) | January
Love With The Proper Stranger (1963) | February
Letter From An Unknown Woman (1948) | March
La Notte (1961) | April
Metropolis (1927) | May
Paths of Glory (1957) | June
Le Mépris (1963) | July
Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo (1966) | August