Two estranged sisters, Ester and Anna, and Anna's 10-year-old son travel to the Central European country on the verge of war. Ester becomes seriously ill and the three of them move into a hotel in a small town called Timoka.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #11. See more »
When Lisa (the Blacksmith's wife) is together with Skat and laughs, her inlays are visible. See more »
[the church painter explains why he is painting a mural about death]
Why should one always make people happy? It might be a good idea to scare them once in a while.
Then they'll close their eyes and refuse to look.
They'll look. A skull is more interesting than a naked woman.
If you do scare them...
Then they think.
They'll become more scared.
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This classic is filled with a lot of memorable images - from the opening scenes on the seashore to the effective concluding shots, creative thoughts are combined with some fine camera work. There are several significant or interesting questions raised by the characters - from the imagery of the "Seventh Seal" in Revelation, to their simple but important concerns about eternity - but it is the way that the visuals play off of the ideas that make the movie so worthwhile.
The recreation of the medieval world is convincing and effective, with a lot of detail to set off a varied assortment of characters with different personalities and perspectives. The characters are not necessarily very deep, but most are interesting, and are worth caring about. The ways that they deal with their discouraging situation make you wonder what it would have been like to live in their world. It's also a movie that in some respects is even better to watch over again, after you already know what has happened and can then pick up even more of the detail and imagery.
No doubt the somber tone and slow pace will always keep it from being widely popular, and it's not perfect, but it's satisfying in a different way, and deserves its reputation as a classic.
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