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The Seventh Seal (1957)

Det sjunde inseglet (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Fantasy | 13 October 1958 (USA)
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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Maud Hansson ...
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Karin, Block's Wife
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Bertil Anderberg ...
Raval
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The Monk
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Gunnar Olsson ...
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 | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A film of visual scope, of imaginative concept, of powerful content, written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, twice honored by the Interational Jury at the Cannes Film Festival 1956,1957

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  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$150,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The script was initially rejected. Ingmar Bergman would end up rewriting it five times. It was only after the success of Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) at Cannes that it started to be considered more seriously. See more »

Goofs

When Skat and the blacksmith reunite with the group, a forest backdrop is visible in the background. See more »

Quotes

Jöns: 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.
Blacksmith Plog: You're happy, you with your oily words. You believe your own twaddle.
Jöns: Believe it? Who said? But I love to give pieces of advice.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Bergman Island (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

DET SITTER EN DUVA
Music by Erik Nordgren
Lyrics by Ingmar Bergman
Sung by Nils Poppe
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Death takes knight, checkmate.
9 October 2014 | by See all my reviews

I suppose one has to view the reputed great classics of cinema to sort of test one's critical faculties against established standards and coming to this iconic film I was certainly aware of some of its famous imagery, in particular that of the soldier playing chess with Death, but nothing more than this. It does make for an arresting start to the film but after that I found it rather heavy going I must say.

Once said soldier Max Van Sydow treks after the family of travelling performers, I struggled to make sense of the narrative as the film follows a picaresque trail of incidents such as as the backstage seduction of a fellow-performer's wife, the humiliation of the travelling husband at an inn and the death by fire of a young female witch. Where exactly are they all headed? Well, with Death silently and unobtrusively along for the ride, I think I get the inference; nobody lives forever.

Mind you, I guess in all of it there's lots of stuff I'm still missing about faith, relationships, class, superstition and the human spirit, the meaning of life in short, but I'm afraid much of its symbolism passed me by. It is well shot in black and white and language-barrier notwithstanding appears to be well played with the actors certainly giving life to their individual characters, Van Sydow in particular, but I found the bitty, episodic development of the story as mystifying and unsatisfying as the higher allegorical meaning striven for.

In fact the only really memorable scene for me was the chess match, which of course I knew about already, so really there was no need for me to watch the rest of it and I'm kind of sorry I did.

Not my cup of tea, I'm afraid.


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