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Unformatted text preview: The Seventh Seal ( Swedish : Det sjunde inseglet ) is an existential 1957 Swedish film directed by Ingmar Bergman about the journey of a medieval knight ( Max von Sydow ) across a plague-ridden landscape. Its best-known scene features the knight playing chess with the personification of Death , his life resting on the outcome of the game. The film has long been regarded a masterpiece of cinema.  The title refers to a passage about the end of the world from the Book of Revelation , used both at the very start of the film, and again towards the end, beginning with the words "And when he had opened the seventh seal , there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour" ( Revelation 8:1). Bergman developed the film from his own play Painting on Wood . Synopsis Antonius Block ( Max von Sydow ), a knight, returns with his squire Jöns ( Gunnar Björnstrand ) from the Crusades and finds that his home country is ravaged by the plague . To his dismay, he discovers that Death ( Bengt Ekerot ) has come for him too. In order to buy time he challenges Death to a chess match, which allows him to reach his home and be reunited with his wife after ten years away. According to film historian Gerald Mast , “Blok challenges Death to a game of chess , knowing the inevitable result but obviously playing for time.”  The knight's faith is war-weathered, and this theme is stressed in one of the scenes in the movie: the knight gives confession to a priest about his doubts whether God actually exists, he tells the priest how he challenged death to a game of chess and reveals his strategy, only to find that the "priest" is actually Death. In another powerful scene of a witch burning, the knight is asked by his squire whether he sees in the victim's eyes God or a vacancy. The disquieted knight refuses to acknowledge the victim's emptiness (and, in a way, his own) despite his doubts about God. The knight realizes that he would rather be broken in faith, constantly suffering doubt, than recognize a life without meaning. Gerald Mast writes, “Like the gravedigger in “ Hamlet ”, the Squire [...] treats death as a bitter and hopeless joke. Since we all play chess with death, and since we all must suffer through that hopeless joke, the only question about the game is how long it will last and how well we will play it. To play it well, to live, is to love and not to hate the body and the mortal as the Church urges in Bergman 's metaphor.”  During the fateful journey, Block and the squire encounter several features of...
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- Spring '08
- Ingmar Bergman, Max von Sydow, The Seventh Seal