I was so impressed with my first exposure to Bergman that I tracked down more of his work. I’m very happy I did.

Cast and Crew

Gunnar Bjornstrand as Jons, the squire
Bengt Ekerot as Death
Nils Poppe as Jof
Max von Sydow as Antonius Block
Bibi Andersson as Mia
Inga Gill as Lisa

Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman.

Complete information is available from this IMDB page.

Buy from: Amazon.com or Amazon.ca

Synopsis

A knight on a mission stalls Death with a game of chess.

High Point

Jons prompts Plog in an argument.

Low Point

The budget and technology in 1957 limited how realistically a fist fight could lead to a convincing bleeding nose. It’s a minor quibble, given that it was a very brief moment in the movie, but the rest of the film is so strong it really is the weakest part of the whole thing.

The Review

This is quite original. The chess game device is a brilliant way to inspire moralistic thinking while maintaining tension as the movie progresses. I give it 6 out of 6.

The effects are the aspect that limited the fake blood, and were only needed in that moment. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story is extremely well done. A variety of diverse threads come together very naturally and entertainingly, while still providing food for thought. You can enjoy this as a mindless popcorn flick if you want to, though I don’t know why you would, or you can really think about what you see and have food for thought for a week. I give it 6 out of 6.

The acting had an older (on average), better cast than the last Bergman film I saw. These were consummate professionals, who delivered their parts with confidence and subtlety. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response was excellent. It’s funny, dramatic, and thought provoking. I give it 6 out of 6.

The production is very close to perfect. The only awkward moments are those which only exis to accomodate the aforementioned limitations in visual effects technology. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, I recommend the movie without hesitation or reservation. Though I keep mentioning the limited effects, I should stress that those issues are apparant for a sequence that’s well under a minute long in a 96 minute film. They will not have a significant effect on the enjoyment of the picture. (In fact, it took me over half an hour to think of something to put in the Low Point. Generally, if it takes more than a minute, it’s because I have to decide which major problem was the worst.) I give it 6 out of 6.

In total, The Seventh Seal receives 39 out of 42.