The Seventh Seal

Bottom Line: Far from a masterpiece.

Directed by: Ingmar Bergman
Starring: Bengt Ekerot, Bertil Anderberg, Bibi Andersson, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Gunnel Lindblom, Inga Gill, Inga Landgre, Maud Hansson, Max von Sydow, Nils Poppe

Have you ever talked with someone who makes it clear he or she has a point to make, but instead rambles on and on endlessly and only once or twice makes a brief remark relevant to his or her point?  If there’s a film that represents that person, it’s THE SEVENTH SEAL.  The picture–often considered one of the all-time great films, as is filmmaker Bergman–opens with a title card and begins with about fifteen minutes devoted to an interesting story.  In Sweden, during the time of the Black Plague, a young man (Max von Sydow) plays games of chess with the figure “Death” (Bengt Ekerot) as he furthers into his questions about life, death, and God.  With that philosophical premise, one would hope for a moving, thought-provoking story.  Sadly, the story barely moves on; instead, it meanders while featuring silly, monotonously spoken characters, unintentional humor, and quizzical plot points.

I’m very much a fan of foreign cinema.  Some of my absolute favorite films, to name just a select few, include THE 400 BLOWS (France), RING (Japan), and 8½ (Italy).  Knowing that, I shouldn’t even have to hope for THE SEVENTH SEAL, a Swedish fantasy-drama, to be great.  It does seem great, in terms of running time.  Through about 75% of the film, I was consistently checking the timer on the DVD player to see when this 96-minute(!?) film would ever end.  It’s likely that THE SEVENTH SEAL has rampant issues with pacing.  The speed of the film is consistently and subtly changing, making for a tiresome, nearly unwatchable film.  Of course, there is a bright side among it all.  If you happen to be suffering from insomnia and cannot pay for medicine, just rent this film and you should be fine.

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13 thoughts on “The Seventh Seal

  1. Cool review man, you have a really distinctive voice to your work. I absolutely love The Seventh Seal. It is one of my probably top 5 of all time, so a shame you didn’t dig it, but I can definitely see it not being to everyone’s liking. I find it incredibly effective, love the pacing and think that it is one of the most beautiful films ever shot too.

    I’m currently in the planning stages of starting a weekly series of blogs covering off on every feature film that Bergman directed, which is quite the undertaking. It will probably kick off in about a month, so keep an eye out, you might find something that intrigues you. I hope I find something that intrigues me, The Seventh Seal is the only film of his I’ve actually seen.

  2. Wasn’t Ingmar Bergman the director you chose for the “Actor/director who’s work I’ve never seen”? Its too bad that it was so disappointing, I’ve actually never even heard of this move (Aside from the chess with death references) but from the sound of it I’m not missing out very much.

    Anyways I do appreciate it when movies try to be artistic but if they fail to make that art watchable then it’s not exactly effective isn’t it.

    • Yup. I was surprised by how disappointed I was with this one. It holds an 8.3 on IMDb and ranks around the 130s, I believe, on their top 250. But I guess I can’t always agree with those who use that site. Million Dollar Baby, Dirty Harry, and Life Is Beautiful also appear on that list, and I didn’t particularly care for them, either.

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