Det sjunde inseglet
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The Seventh Seal (1957) More at IMDbPro »Det sjunde inseglet (original title)

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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Seventh Seal can be found here.

Disillusioned medieval knight Antonius Block (Max von Sydow) and his squire Jns (Gunnar Björnstrand) return home from the Crusades to find Sweden ravaged by the Black Death. Informed by Death (Bengt Ekerot) that it is his time to die, the knight challenges Death to a chess game, knowing that, so long as he can keep the game going, he can forestall his time on this mortal coil.

The Seventh Seal (Swedish: Det sjunde inseglet) is based on a play titled 'Wood Painting' by Swedish director Ingmar Bergman [1918-2007]. Bergman then turned the play into a screenplay for the film.

The seventh seal refers to a biblical passage about the end of the world from the Book of Revelation, used both at the very start of the film and again towards the end, beginning with the words: And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. (Revelation 8:1). The assumption is that the seventh seal has been opened, and the plague is the result.

The first four seals described in Revelation are more commonly known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. (1) When the first seal is opened, a white horse appears. The rider carries a bow and is given a crown and then goes out to conquer. (2) The second seal is a red horse which bears a rider who carries a large sword. Power is given to this rider to take peace away from the earth. (This seal represents war.) (3) The third seal is a black horse with a rider that carries a pair of balances, representing famine. (4) The fourth seal is a pale horse, and the rider is named Death. This rider has the power to kill using sword, hunger, death, and with beasts of the earth. Seals five and six are as follows. (5) When the fifth seal is opened, the author of the book of Revelation looks under the altar of God and sees the souls of those who were slain because of their belief in the Word of God. (6) The sixth seal is a great earthquake, in which the sun goes black and the moon goes red. The stars of Heaven fall to the earth, and every mountain and island is moved out of its place.

When Jof (Nils Poppe) sees Block playing chess with Death, he flees with his wife Mia (Bibi Andersson) and small son Mikael (Tommy Karlsson) in their wagon, hoping to escape Death's notice. In order to distract Death while the family slips away, Block knocks over the remaining chess pieces then claims to have forgotten how they were arranged. Death claims to remember and resets the pieces then promptly puts Block's king in check. He says that he will be back for Block and his traveling companions. Before departing, Death asks if Block has accomplished his one "meaningful deed" yet; Block replies that he has. Block leads the rest of his companions Jons, blacksmith Plog (Åke Fridell) and his wife Lisa (Inga Gill), and the servant girl (Gunnel Lindblom) to his castle where he is greeted warmly by his wife Karin (Inga Landgré), who has apparently aged during the ten years he was away. Karin makes supper for the group and, while they eat, she reads aloud from the Bible. Suddenly, there is a knock on the door. Jons answers it but returns to say that he saw no one. Karin continues to read, while the others stare at the figure that has just appeared in the doorway. It is Death, come for them. Block prays for mercy from the God he previously doubted. The next morning, after sleeping in their wagon through a pounding rainstorm, Jof and Mia awaken. With his second sight, Jof is able to see death leading the knight and his followers over the hills in what has been called the Danse Macabre. In the final scene, Jof leads his horse and wagon up the road with Mia and Mikael at his side.

The only other movie by Ingmar Bergman that is set in a medieval setting is Jungfrukällan (The Virgin Spring) (1960). Viewers who are familiar with Bergman's work often recommend Persona (1966) and Nattvardsgästerna (Winter Light) (1962) as among his best works. Other well-known Bergman films which may not be hard to find include Smultronstället (Wild Strawberries) (1957), Vargtimmen (Hour of the Wolf), Tystnaden (The Silence) (1963), and Fanny och Alexander (Fanny and Alexander) (1982).

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