A Knight and his squire are home from the crusades. Black Death is sweeping their country. As they approach home, Death appears to the knight and tells him it is his time. The knight challenges Death to a chess game for his life. The Knight and Death play as the cultural turmoil envelopes the people around them as they try, in different ways, to deal with the upheaval the plague has caused. Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The last two minutes of the film are pure improvisation. The actors have played the whole final scene, when Bergman saw in the sky a cloud of unusual shape. He told the troupe again wear costumes and directed a new version of the final scene in one take. See more »
In the witches' forest, you can see the windows of apartment buildings between the trees. See more »
But feel, to the very end, the triumph of being alive!
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Let me make this pretty quick -- a friend brought this Ingmar Bergman "classic" to the house last night (on Blu-ray), and it was my first experience with this acclaimed filmmaker. All I can say is, I was immediately struck by the cinematography, and I started getting interested in the idea of a knight (Max Von Sydow) playing chess with "Death" himself, as a means of deciding the fate of his own soul.... but that's as far as it went.
From then on, nothing made much sense and the noble core idea of the film (presumably about questioning death, and the existence of God) seemed to go out the window, as we spend our time with secondary characters I just could not become interested in. I wanted to focus more on Max von Sydow's troubled crusader and his crisis of faith, especially since I myself am presently going through some personal bouts of despair in my personal life with my own crosses to bear... but he was only sparingly used, and I just could not follow any type of coherent storyline to this thing, for all its pretty picture style. There was no story, just images... and it's not that this approach never works for me in other films, but it didn't connect for me this time. I can't say that this is going to be my last visitation with Bergman, but this is not a promising start, considering this is allegedly one of his greatest works, if not THE greatest. Apologies to Woody Allen. Okay, let the slings and arrows fly. ** out of ****
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