1/27/2006

The Seventh Seal

If you have not yet seen the film, there may be some spoilers in here for you!  
If you have not seen it, then I recommend you do; known as a masterpiece of cinema, it is indeed quite good.

As visits to the cinema lately have been slow I have decided to partake in the reviewing of films that I have watched at home.

I bought the seventh seal on a whim in an Ingmar Bergman collection in the MVC closing down sale; for £20 cheaper than it should have been I was not going to back away from the offer.

Directed by Ingmar Bergman –of Ingrid Bergman- Starring Max von Sydow (Antonius Block), Gunnar Bjornstrand (Jons, squire), Bengt Ekerot (Death), Nils Poppe (Jof) and Bibi Andersson (Mia, Jof’s wife).

If you do not know the film by name, then you may perhaps know it from the film that started the ‘play death at chess’ (or play death at other games: Bill and Ted) idea implemented into a film.
The Seventh Seal is a haunting film, which I suppose could best be described as very philosophical, questioning the existence of God and showing the level to which a person may attempt to escape death. The story follows Jons and Antonius Block riding back to their hometown after waging war in the crusades. Antonius is confronted by death, declaring his time up, wanting more time to understand  life, he challenges Death to an on-going game of chess. Satisfied Jons and Antonius continue on their travels to find Sweden overrun with the plague. With my short description it may not sound that exciting, but granted it has its funny moments, as well as its sad moments.

Now of course with such as profound film there are drawbacks that would perhaps turn people away, starting off its black and white, and then of course the film is in its native language of Swedish, and do not get me started on watching foreign films dubbed because its just silly.

What can I say, if you ask me every actor was superb, I did think the devil witch girl was a little strange, but with characters like Jons, Plog, Antonius and Death you cannot get any better, I do not believe that I’ve been able to say that every character was enjoyable in a film before. But in this case it is very true.

With characters like Jons, the squire, lines were sometimes quite a handful, and with what was probably a direct translation from Swedish some lines sounded a little complicated and hard to follow, but the story itself was great, and shall be recognised as a great film for decades to come.

With such a great introduction to Ingmar Bergman’s work I cannot wait to see some of his other films. The characters were akin to that of Kurosawa’s, each character being endearing, and completely engrossing, their goals were clear, and there were quite a few laughs to be had regardless of it often being slated as boring. I must say the mention of the phrase ‘you can’t beat death’ just makes me remember what was probably the funniest thing I have ever seen with death (regardless of the serious context of the seventh seal)

Being as picky as I am I must say there were some cross fades that looked a little iffy, as well as a few other technical things. But otherwise the film was flawless, though I must say I did not like the song that Jof and his wife sung, truth be told, I found it a little annoying.

My overall comment has to be that this film is not for everyone, but if you feel like watching a pretty good film set in the middle ages questioning the existence of god, you can not go wrong! I suppose if you wanted to go so far, it’s a classic film, that Final Destination’s plot could be loosely based on, the fact being that Death always wins. No matter how skilfully we plan our moves or how determined we are to win, we can never beat Death.

Cptalbertwesker Rating –8/10
It took me a while to get a hold of the film and then watch it, but it was well worth the wait, and I was not disappointed with what has been hailed as one of the greatest films to be produced in Sweden.

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