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

8.3
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 84,904 users  
Reviews: 239 user | 125 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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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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...
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

Plot Keywords:

death | knight | chess | plague | chess game | See more »

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Language:

|

Release Date:

13 October 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Seventh Seal  »

Box Office

Budget:

$150,000 (estimated)
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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

A knight returning from the Crusades faces the Black Plague. The Crusades ended in the 13th century, and the Plague began in the middle of the 14th century. See more »

Quotes

Death: Don't you ever stop asking?
Antonius Block: No. I never stop.
Death: But you're not getting an answer.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Empire of the Censors (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

DIES IRÆ, DIES ILLA / VREDENS STORA DAG ÄR NÄRA
Lyrics by Severin Cavallin
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Grim, but not entirely hopeless
24 January 2003 | by (Erlangen, Germany) – See all my reviews

Middle Ages: Antonius Blok, a Swedish knight, returns from the Crusades only to find his country dying of the plague, religious fundamentalists taking over and Death himself wanting him to come along. Antonius challenges Death to a game of chess and is meanwhile driven to desperation because of the absence of God. This description sounds like a very serious, philosophical and dour film, and actually it is serious, philosophical and dour; but there is also a little warmth, hope and humor, maybe not for Antonius, but for the viewer.

When Blok and Death interrupt their game of chess (due to the plague, Death is very busy), he meets two actors, Jof and Mia, with their little son, the most human characters of the film, and I don't think it's a coincidence that there names sound very much like Joseph and Mary. These people may be a little dim, but they are good at heart and you can see the happiness in Antonius' eyes when he is together with them for the first time.

But the main aspect of Ingmar Bergman's arguably best film are Antonius Blok's grim encounters, as the young girl about to be burnt at the stake, as a scapegoat for the plague. And the haunting image of a huge crowd of flagellants interrupting a play of Jof and Mia and trying to convince the crowd thery are doomed; hardly any other film is that direct in asking controversial and essential questions about God, religion and mankind as The Seventh Seal.

Another reason for the impact this almost 50-year-old film has still today is the acting: Max von Sydow's face always seems to reflect what Antonius Blok is thinking, Nils Poppe's performance as the naive actor and caring father is priceless and Bengt Ekerot's Death became a part of film history and survived all its spoofs (the best one being in Woody Allen's tremendously funny "Love and Death"). But the best performance is done by Gunnar Björnstrand as Antonios Blok's misogynist squire, dryly commenting all their encounters even in the face of death.

The Seventh Seal is not subtle in raising it's questions, that's for sure. But it makes you think about these questions nevertheless. It's disturbing and grim most of the time, but at the end it gives you the hope that it might become better.


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Breaking Down Bergman on The Seventh Seal eo_guy
Pretentious, silly, even at the time. objviewer
Does God Exist? adamsnd
Boring clayzar
My Seventh Seal Tattoo evenxstarx
Why did Death take everyone with Block? ruomegared
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