Antonius Block, a weary knight, and his squire Jons return
home from the crusades. Along the way they meet Death who
challenges Block to a game of chess. The rules are simple.
Block stays alive as long as the game continues and wins his
freedom if he wins the game...
Seventh Seal (1957) was directed by Ingmar Bergman, and
won the Jury Special prize at Cannes in 1957, as well as a
further three awards.
can one say about a film that truly deserves the title classic
that has not already been said before? Bergman has a very
bleak view of the 14th century and this is not without reason.
The Black Death was sweeping across the land creating an apocalypse
that has thankfully never been repeated. In the face of this
catastrophe reactions were many and varied. Some sought to
gain God's forgiveness through self flagellation, others burned
their fellow man.
Von Sydow's Block is a man who is discontented that God only
chooses to show himself through faith and legend and cannot
understand why, if God exists, he does not just show himself.
Having spent his life disconnected from his fellow man, he
craves to just one meaningful deed before death finally wins
and so plays chess to gain him the time he needs.
yet, within all the pain, Bergman shows that there is yet
hope. A troupe of travelling players are presented as the
least pessimistic, only they continue to attempt to entertain
the villagers, whilst bring up their own child - a hope for
the future. These are not the only characters that the knight
interacts with. In a deserted village they meet Ravel, the
very same Doctor of Theology who had originally persuaded
the knight to embark on the crusade. Now in the face of the
horror, he has turned to robbing the dead, having lost his
comes in two flavours the original Swedish and an English
Dub, both of which are Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. For a film
this old there is a nice set of extras. You get the original
theatrical trailer, Karin's Face (1984 14 min 13 sec).
This short film was directed by Bergman and is about his mother.
The film is presented as a set of photographs over a lilting
and somewhat melancholic piano piece. The film evokes the
kind of nostalgia that one gets looking at pictures of loved
ones long dead. Surprisingly powerful, given its simple premise;
the film has been fully restored for the Blu-ray edition.
A real gem of an extra is the On-Set Footage (1956
14 min 49 sec). This is informal, silent, footage, narrated
in English, which although short is quite engrossing. It's
interesting seeing Bergman scouting out locations for a film
that, made on the cheap, did not look to be a great box office
draw, let alone the classic that it would become.
print is presented in 4:3 and given that the film is fifty
years old was surprisingly sharp and clear.
you have yet to plunge your toe into the joys of Blu-ray then
Tartan have very generously included the DVD version as well.
That way you can start collecting films whilst saving for
package presents this magnificent film in the best print possible.
Given the bonus material and the inclusion of the film in
DVD format Tartan continues to prove that it loves films as
much as its audience.