Tuesday, 11 May 2010
The Seventh Seal 
Seventh Seal, a landmark art movie, is often considered Swedish master Ingmar Bergman’s greatest masterpiece, which, mind you, is a huge qualification for a movie! The grim, austere and allegorical film was less a cinematic achievement and more a philosophical treatise for which moving images happened to be nothing more than a medium of intellectual expression. At the centre of this treatise lies Antonius Block, a medieval era knight returning home from the Crusades. The bloodshed, brutality, poverty and human suffering that he has seen has made him deeply disillusioned; further, with plague wrecking havoc among the god-fearing populace, his existential crisis and angst knows no bounds. While on his way home, in a concept endlessly referenced, imitated and parodied, he encounters Death who he challenges to a game of chess. Sardonic and mischievous, Death’s presence is a complete contrast to the morose Block’s. The movie ends with the iconic “Dance of Death” sequence, captured in stark silhouettes. However, all said and done, this is a very heavy movie laden with religious symbolisms, philosophical overtones and spiritual commentary, thus requiring an enlightened mind even to appreciate the film, leave alone falling in love with it. And, in my very humble opinion, it hasn't aged very well either.
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Genre: Drama/Existential Drama/Psychological Drama