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The Seventh Seal (1957)
"Det sjunde inseglet" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Fantasy  |  13 October 1958 (USA)
8.3
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 100,073 users  
Reviews: 255 user | 133 critic

A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.

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Title: The Seventh Seal (1957)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Nils Poppe ...
...
...
Mia / Mary - Jof's wife
Inga Gill ...
Lisa, blacksmith's wife
Maud Hansson ...
Inga Landgré ...
Karin, Block's Wife
Gunnel Lindblom ...
Bertil Anderberg ...
Raval
Anders Ek ...
Åke Fridell ...
Gunnar Olsson ...
Albertus Pictor, Church Painter
Erik Strandmark ...
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Storyline

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 <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

13 October 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Seventh Seal  »

Box Office

Budget:

$150,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Nils Poppe was famous in Sweden for being a comedic actor, therefor it's quite appropriate that his character, Jof, is a jester. See more »

Goofs

Just before the arrival of the Christian entourage, Jof and Mia were performing their presentation at the village. At that moment, both of them were supposed to slowly stop playing their instruments - Jof, who was playing the stringed instrument; and Mia, playing the tambour. The sound of the stringed instrument can be heard as Jof is not stroking the strings anymore. See more »

Quotes

[Death approaches Antonius Block]
Antonius Block: Wait a moment.
Death: You all say that. But I grant no reprieves.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Still Crazy (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

SKATS SÅNG
Music by Erik Nordgren
Lyrics by Ingmar Bergman
Sung by Erik Strandmark
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Antonius Block: "I met Death today. We are playing chess."
4 June 2007 | by (Virginia, USA) – See all my reviews

Dark, beautiful, meaningful, exploring the most serious themes of faith and searching for God, "The Seventh Seal" is known as one of the landmark Bergman's movies. One of the film's inspirations was a painting that Bergman saw as a young boy and was transfixed by: "There was everything that one's imagination could desire. Angels, saints, dragons, prophets, devils, humans. There were very frightening animals: serpents in paradise, Balaam's ass, Jonah's whale, the eagle of Revelation. All this was surrounded by heavenly, earthly and subterranean landscapes of strange yet familiar beauty. I remember Death playing chess with a Crusader, Death sawing at a tree to a branch of which clung a naked man with staring eyes, and across a gentle hill Death leading the final dance towards the dark lands" (Bergman in Hart). The film follows the journey of a knight Antonius Block (Max Von Sydow) returning from Crusades through Sweden ravaged by plague. The knight has lost his faith in the blood and horrors of the battlefield, "Faith is a torment. It is like loving someone who is out there in the darkness but never appears, no matter how loudly you call." On his way home, he encountered people dying from starvation and disease, being burnt as witches as well as Mr. Death himself who challenged him to play a game of chess and the family of a happy juggler, his wife, and their infant son. This family is happy because they love each other. They represent the simple joys and hopes of ordinary life.

Everything about "The Seventh Seal" is extra-ordinary including acting. I especially liked Jöns, Antonius Block's misogynist squire - the best performance in the movie by Gunnar Björnstrand. His quotes about love are hilarious:

"Love is the blackest of all plagues... if one could die of it, there would be some pleasure in love, but you don't die of it." "Love is as contagious as a cold. It eats away at your strength, morale... If everything is imperfect in this world, love is perfect in its imperfection."

I know the film's reputation and I enjoyed watching it but it did not click with me completely the way the others Bergman's films did ("Fanny and Alexander", "Persona", "Smiles of a Summer Night") and I found myself bored few times. I keep thinking why? It seems to me that the movie is slightly overdone and overheated with its attacking images, abstractions and discursive dialog. I understand that it is a very serious film but while watching it, I could not help thinking how funny its images and dialog would look and sound in parodies. (Not as anything is wrong with that). Woody Allen obviously thought the same. :)


10 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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how would YOU challenge Death?? popeLAC
Pretentious, silly, even at the time. objviewer
English dubbed version vs. English subtitles. amjschmitz
when does the Knight join the family? TamalpaisHigh
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Does God Exist? adamsnd
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