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Friday, January 17, 2014

Det Sjunde Inseglet (aka The Seventh Seal) (1957)

Returning home from the Crusades, a disillusioned knight (Max Von Sydow) and his servant (Gunnar Bjornstrand) find their homeland riddled with the plague. When death (Bengt Ekerot) comes to claim him, the knight challenges him to a game of chess thus holding death at bay until the outcome of the chess game. There's that old expression about not being able to define what Art is but "I know it when I see it". One doesn't have to be a scholar but one would have to be backward not to feel you're in the presence of a genuine piece of cinematic Art while watching Ingmar Bergman's landmark film. One doesn't have to embrace it or even like it but the film is a perfect example of film as an Art form. One can discuss the film's several themes like reason vs. faith or enjoy it simply as Woody Allen called it, "a brilliant, sinister fairy tale". Von Sydow's probing for an explanation, an assurance of God's existence pervades the film but the film is filled with rich imagery and scenes that once seen are not easily forgotten: the march of the flagellators, the peaceful respite of milk and strawberries, the poor child "witch" and the iconic finale, the dance of death. One of a handful of cinematic masterpieces that deserve each and every accolade given it. With Bibi Andersson, Nils Poppe, Gunnel Lindblom, Ake Fridell, Inga Gill and Inga Landgre.

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