"They named a brandy after Napoleon, they made a herring out of Bismarck,and Hitler is going to end up as a piece of cheese."

 

 

[Det sjunde inseglet, Das siebente Siegel]

SE 1957, R: Ingmar Bergman mit Gunnar Fischer, Lennart Wallén, Katinka Faragó, 96 Min, OmeU

It may be folly to think that life and thus death hold any secrets. In The Seventh Seal Bergman spoke to this modern query in a medieval setting rendered at once awesome and intimate in chiaroscuro.

A knight, Antonius Block (Max von Sydow), and his squire Jöns (Gunnar Björnstrand) return disillusioned from the Crusades to the hysteria of plague-infested fourteenth-century Sweden. On the shore Block encounters Death and, in one of the most effective reverse-angle exchanges ever filmed, challenges him to a game of chess, playing for time to perform one significant act in life. What is timeless about this existential passion play is the humanity of its characters, who seem to shun allegory like a kind of narrative death: Block, whom the Crusades took away from the real-the only proof of God – to the abstract, and torment; Jöns, cynical sensualist who articulates the void; Death himself, a picture of inconclusiveness; and the dreamer Jof and his wild-strawberry wife (Bibi Andersson), actors traveling into light. “Max von Sydow, der zu Bergmans Theaterensemble in Malmö gehörte, übernahm in Det sjunde inseglet (Das siebente Siegel, 1957) die Rolle des Kreuzritters, eine wie dem Werk El Grecos entstammende Figur von erhabener Trauer und Lebensabkehr, die – in stark surreal gestalteten Kompositionen – gegen den Tod Schach spielt um ihr Leben.“ (ray-magazine.at, 2011) “

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