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

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Fantasy  |  13 October 1958 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 101,151 users  
Reviews: 254 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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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 ...
Anders Ek ...
Åke Fridell ...
Gunnar Olsson ...
Albertus Pictor, Church Painter
Erik Strandmark ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Fantasy


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

13 October 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Seventh Seal  »

Box Office


$150,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The title is a Biblical quotation from The Revelation of St. John the Divine, chapter 8. See more »


The chess players focus on capturing the Queen. The Queen was not a super-powerful piece until centuries later when a recent chess-variant initially called "chess of the mad queen" became more popular than the classic game. See more »


[the church painter explains why he is painting a mural about death]
Church Painter: Why should one always make people happy? It might be a good idea to scare them once in a while.
Jöns: Then they'll close their eyes and refuse to look.
Church Painter: They'll look. A skull is more interesting than a naked woman.
Jöns: If you do scare them...
Church Painter: Then they think.
Jöns: And then?
Church Painter: They'll become more scared.
See more »


Spoofed in The Young Ones: Nasty (1984) See more »


Lyrics by Severin Cavallin
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Compelling Drama From Ingmar Bergman
4 November 2000 | by (Salem, Oregon) – See all my reviews

A compelling contemplation of death and the nature of Man's existence, Ingmar Bergman's `The Seventh Seal' is uncompromising, riveting drama that is every bit as striking conceptually as it is philosophically. In the Fourteenth Century a knight, Antonius Block (Max von Sydow), and his squire, Jons (Gunnar Bjornstrand), have returned after ten years away at the Crusades to their native Sweden, and are beginning their journey home. For Block, it is a pensive time; he is troubled by what he perceives as God's silence, and thirsts for knowledge and some meaning to his life, as well as a resolution of faith, which has deserted him. Jons, meanwhile, is a study in jaded indifference, who believes in nothing beyond the present and whatever his senses and current circumstances dictate. Shortly after their arrival on the coast of Sweden, Death (Bengt Ekerot) comes for Block. But Block strikes a bargain with him, challenging him to a game of chess, to be played as they continue on with their journey. As long as Block prevails, they will go on; if he wins, he will be released. And though Block knows what the outcome must inevitably be, he welcomes Death's acceptance of his challenge, for the game affords him perhaps enough time to fulfill his quest, while adding purpose to what promises to be an arduous trek through a land being ravaged by the Black Plague. Von Sydow brings a commanding presence to the screen as Block, his very countenance bespeaking strength and poise. His subtle, stoic approach to this enigmatic character is captivating, and lends a depth and dignity that makes Block truly memorable. By contrast, Jons' strength seems born of his indifference; he takes things as they come, and is governed by a somewhat fatalistic philosophy. Bjornstrand, a gifted, eloquent actor (and veteran of numerous Bergman films), invests an earthy, gritty quality to Jons that plays effectively opposite von Sydow's more ethereal portrayal of Block. It is significant that in the closing scene the final speech, in the presence of Death, is accorded to Jons; for it elevates the character to a station equal to, if not surpassing, that of the protagonist, Block. The supporting cast includes Nils Poppe (Jof), Bibi Andersson (Mia), Inga Gill (Lisa), Gunnel Lindblom (Girl), Anders Ek (The Monk), Ake Fridell (Plog) and Erik Strandmark (Skat). Written and directed by Bergman, `The Seventh Seal' is a thought provoking, earnest meditation on faith and mortality that is filled with stunning metaphoric and visual images that will forever be indelibly inscribed in your memory. One scene in particular, in which the players link hands and, silhouetted against a twilight sky are led by Death in a dance across the crest of a distant hill, is breathtaking in it's simplicity. It stands (as does this entire film) as an example of why Ingmar Bergman is one of the greatest directors in the history of the cinema. I rate this one 10/10.

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how would YOU challenge Death?? popeLAC
Pretentious, silly, even at the time. objviewer
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