Antonius Block (Max Von Sydow) returns back to Sweden after ten long years fighting in the Crusades. Sweden has been hit with the Black Plague and Death (Bengt Ekerot) has come for Block all when Block is questioning the existence of God.
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Cast: Max Von Sydow, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Bengt Ekerot, Nils Poppe, Bibi Andersson
MPAA Rating: N/A
Fun Fact: Max Von Sydow’s character’s name, Antonius Block, is only said twice in the whole film.
Film Critic Peter Cowie stated on a special feature in the DVD that he always remembers the first time he saw The Seventh Seal. Like him, I also do remember the first time that I had ever saw it. It really left a lasting impact for me in the world of film and I had to get a DVD copy of the film to my collection.
The Seventh Seal is a masterpiece in the realm of world cinema and it’s in my top five favorite films list. For a black and white film, it’s shot beautifully from the very first scene on the beach to the very last one on the hillside. Every minute that goes by you will be mesmerized by the setting and the locations. The interesting thing is that there were only three scenes that were shot on a location and the rest was shot in a studio area lot. For the film being based in medieval times, you also get to see some unique sets and costume designs. The wooden buildings that were constructed for the film look like a medieval village and it’s always nice to see these period pieces on having someone’s take on what life could’ve looked like at that time.
Ingmar Bergman wrote the script to the film based off a play of his called Wood Painting. It has a similar plot but, a few things switched around. Bergman’s script is a well written script and Bergman directed this film masterfully. He could take control of his script and get the visuals and performances down right. There are so many memorable scenes that will leave a lasting impact on the viewer. Whenever I watch this film I can’t stop thinking about what I have seen. I will never forget the scene were Maud Hannson, who plays the Witch, is tied to the stake to be executed. The look on her face is so memorable that it’s one of the first things I think about when I view this film. It’s a look of terror and unrest that will leave the viewer uneasy in the viewing experience.
This film is driven on the fantastic performances by the group of actors that were chosen for the film. The whole group brings their A game into their roles. Max Von Sydow’s performance is one of my favorites of all time. He plays the role of a man questioning his life and beliefs so well that you want to see him get the answers that he wants. While of have Von Sydow questioning different topics, you have Gunnar Bjonstrand trying to be a voice of reason for him. Bjornstrand and Von Sydow have a great chemistry as a knight and squire that you want to keep seeing them on screen together. Bengt Ekerot’s version of Death has become a cultural icon. Other films have taken his appearance and used it as an inspiration. Ekerot plays the role like how death should be, cold, impatient, and wants to do his business.
Overall, The Seventh Seal is a masterpiece of cinema. It launched the career of Ingmar Bergman and it’s a film that needs to be seen by all. It has fantastic visuals, atmosphere, and acting. Max Von Sydow’s performance is one of my favorites ever in film and the rest of the cast gives it their all through the whole film. View this film if you like foreign cinema, classics, or just want to see a great film.