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THE SEVENTH SEAL

Director: INGMAR BERGMAN

SWEDEN • 1957 • SUBTITLED • BLACK AND WHITE • 95 MIN


PROBABLY THE BEST-KNOWN OF INGMAR BERGMAN’S FILMS AS A RESULT OF ITS VIVID MEDIEVAL CANVAS AND THE GRANDEUR OF ITS BLACK AND WHITE CINEMATOGRAPHY, THE SEVENTH SEALIS REISSUED IN A NEW PRINT TO CELEBRATES ITS 50th BIRTHDAY.
Returning from the ludicrous chaos of the Crusades, a Knight (Max von Sydow) must discover something of value in the plague-stricken country he is about to leave. And peace, he realises a little obviously, is to be found with the family of a mere clown, eating wild strawberries in the afternoon sun and hallucinating gently about the Virgin Mary. Thanks to the Knight’s delaying tactic of engaging the figure of Death (Bengt Ekerot) in a game of chess, they escape the Black Death to continue enjoying their immunity from the other plague, that of faithlessness. Gentler in those days, Bergman could allow some fragile happiness as he pressed on into the darkness. With Seventh Seal, the summer days, in their simplicity, were drawing to a close. Which is probably why, after all those years, one now treasures them like old photographs. — Philip Strick.

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