A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.
THE SEVENTH SEAL could very well serve as sort of a manifesto for existentialism. Its deep acuity and haunting imagery is powerful enough to jar even passive viewers out of their complacency and force them to examine their own reality. The delicately crafted story centers around a 14th century knight named Antonius Block and his ongoing game of chess with a shadowy, hooded figure: Death. Bergman uses this allegory not just to personify death, but to illustrate the lengths man will go to in order to avoid it. In the end, however, Death is a much better player than any of us, and though he may humor some of his opponents by letting them think that they have the advantage, the end result is inevitable: Death always wins. No matter how skillfully we plan our moves or how determined we are to win, we can never beat Death.
In Antonius's search for answers, he encounters a variety of very unique characters, each with their own outlook on life, death, faith, fear and love. Their commentary on such matters is often dryly funny and always brilliant, continuously and effectively challenging our perceptions of the world around us. For me, the dialogue was definitely the high point of the film, as it was extremely thought-provoking and carefully constructed throughout. Almost every line spoken is, in one way or another, daunting and unforgettable. Jöns's description of love as "the blackest of all plagues" is a quote that will forever be engraved in my mind.
THE SEVENTH SEAL truly is a remarkable accomplishment in the world of cinema. It is a deep, mesmerizing, and darkly beautiful work of art. More importantly, THE SEVENTH SEAL is one of those rare movies that doesn't just entertain, but also has the power to change the way one thinks.
- May 5, 2004