HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Dreams on Fire
Sing as We Go!
Burnt Orange Heresy, The
Craft Legacy, The
Eye of the Storm
Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands
Where No Vultures Fly
Come True
Kagemusha
Justine
Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché
Madchen in Uniform
Fire Will Come
Suspect
Jailbreak Pact
News of the World
Dementer
Beyond Clueless
Stylist, The
Sky is On Fire, The
Wrong Turn
In a Year with 13 Moons
Blush
Strange Affair of Uncle Harry, The
Sinners, The
Tammy and the T-Rex
Archenemy
Zappa
Mindwarp
State Secret
Mogul Mowgli
Owners, The
Twentieth Century, The
Story of Gilbert and Sullivan, The
What Lies Below
Greenland
Broil
Dead Pigs
Willy's Wonderland
It's in the Air
   
 
Newest Articles
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
   
 
  Seventh Seal, The Player Of Games
Year: 1957
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Gunnar Björnstrand, Bengt Ekerot, Nils Poppe, Max von Sydow, Bibi Andersson, Inga Gill, Maud Hansson, Inga Landgré, Gunnel Lindblom, Bertil Anderberg, Anders Ek, Åke Fridell, Gunnar Olsson, Erik Strandmark
Genre: Drama, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is the era of the plague across Europe, and the knight Antonius Block (Max von Sydow) is all too aware of the devastation that has been brought to the land, but has had an idea of how to avoid it. When he wakes up on the pebble beach he washes his face in the sea and steps over his squire Jons (Gunnar Björnstrand) to be greeted with the figure of Death (Bengt Ekerot) who is regarding him keenly, as it is the knight's time to go with him. However, he has news for the entity, as he does not plan to die, not just yet at least, and strikes a bargain with him: wouldn't he prefer a nice game of chess instead? Death admits he is a good player and finds the request too tempting to pass on, even with the major caveat that should he lose, he will have to allow the knight to live...

Director Ingmar Bergman had already been making a name for himself, chiefly with romantic comedy Smiles of a Summer Night, when he released The Seventh Seal, which was drawn from his own self-confessed struggles with the concept of dying. Not only the concept, as the reality was a big concern as well, but nobody in the late fifties was prepared for this, it was deeply strange, vividly rendered and philosophically deep, about as far from romantic comedy as it was possible to get. Maybe there were a handful of scattered laughs, but they were bleak ones, as the theme of what to do with your life when it was going to end sooner or later preyed on the minds of the characters, and that would translate to anyone with half a mind to consider those implications in the audience.

Yet the setting was significant, for a lot of the people we watch in the story, photographed as one of the best looking black and white films ever, believe the End Times are nigh, and the prophecies as delineated in The Book of Revelation are coming to pass, which as we know from our modern perspective was not the case, as the world has endured unimaginably far past what these characters could have envisaged. Hence, when the threat of the nuclear bombs dropping was uppermost in the Cold War when this was made, we could conceivably hold justified hope in our hearts that as all things must pass, so would our worries, terrors even, and life would go on. Not that there was much succour from Bergman, as he continually pointed out we were always going to die at some stage, no matter how far we managed to stave off our eventual demise.

The knight was the conduit through which the director's fears were expressed, von Sydow's grace and gravitas making his conversations with Death what were often described as the highlight: Death is wily to the point that he is willing to cheat to claim his victims, so what is it possible to do to counter that? The answer is nothing whatsoever, but that need not mean we cannot appreciate our time when alive, and that has nothing to do with whether God, who many viewed as the orchestrator of life and the potential afterlife, exists or does not. The knight seeks after knowledge, that's his reason for being, though he seeks after that which is unknowable to humanity which is why he is so unsatisfied, unable to prove any of his pressing questions about existence when the fact is that nobody can tell him and there is no way of discovering for himself.

But there are other methods of making the most of your life, and the other characters the knight and his squire (who may be wiser than his boss) meet indicate that: you can bring meaning to through a variety of means, be that music, humour, sex or some alternative diversion. You won't live forever, as far as anyone can tell, but activities such as those will brighten up your days no matter how many you are allotted in this world. We follow a small troupe of travelling players who live only to entertain (not that they are always welcomed) but the couple (Nils Poppe and Bibi Andersson) have their baby to keep them going, so family and creating more life to carry on are just as valid a justification for being alive, indeed the last shot positively endorses this. If you fill up your life with negativity, The Seventh Seal implied, you are wasting your time, as obviously there will be disappointments and tragedies to encounter, but concentrating on the worst elements, be that plague or punishing yourself and others with your failings, will be an opportunity dreadfully missed. And yet, the knight's yearning for good answers, any answers, is something we can all relate to with sobering recognition. Music by Erik Nordgren.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1872 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Ingmar Bergman  (1918 - 2007)

Undoubtedly one of the greatest artists of cinema, Ingmar Bergman was often accused of being too depressing as his subjects covered the existence (or otherwise) of God and deep-seated marital problems (he himself was married five times), but he always approached them with a sympathetic eye. Among his most memorable films were Summer with Monika, Smiles of a Summer Night, The Seventh Seal (with its unforgettable chess game with Death), Wild Strawberries, The Virgin Spring (the inspiration for Last House on the Left), Through a Glass Darkly, The Silence, Persona, Hour of the Wolf, Cries and Whispers, Scenes from a Marriage and Fanny and Alexander. He also made international stars of Max von Sydow, Liv Ullman and Bibi Andersson.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
   

 

Last Updated: