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The Seventh Seal (1957)

Det sjunde inseglet (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Fantasy | 13 October 1958 (USA)
A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Mia / Mary - Jof's wife
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Lisa, blacksmith's wife
Maud Hansson ...
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Karin, Block's Wife
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Bertil Anderberg ...
Raval
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Åke Fridell ...
Gunnar Olsson ...
Albertus Pictor, Church Painter
Erik Strandmark ...
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Storyline

A Knight and his squire are home from the crusades. Black Death is sweeping their country. As they approach home, Death appears to the knight and tells him it is his time. The knight challenges Death to a chess game for his life. The Knight and Death play as the cultural turmoil envelopes the people around them as they try, in different ways, to deal with the upheaval the plague has caused. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A film of visual scope, of imaginative concept, of powerful content, written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, twice honored by the Interational Jury at the Cannes Film Festival 1956,1957

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Language:

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Release Date:

13 October 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Seventh Seal  »

Box Office

Budget:

$150,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The script was initially rejected. Ingmar Bergman would end up rewriting it five times. It was only after the success of Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) at Cannes that it started to be considered more seriously. See more »

Goofs

When the group enters the castle from the rainstorm, they are perfectly dry. See more »

Quotes

Jöns: Do you have any brandy? I've had nothing but water. It's made me as thirsty as a camel in the desert.
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Connections

Featured in Chess History (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

ÖDET ÄR EN RACKARE
Music by Erik Nordgren
Lyrics by Ingmar Bergman
Sung by Gunnar Björnstrand
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Great, but far from Bergman's best
4 June 2004 | by (Bulgaria) – See all my reviews

I find it strange that "The seventh Seal" has always been widely considered to be the best Bergman movie and is so much more famous that all the others he made. Yes, it's very good, especially for its time, but compared with the real masterpieces Bergman made like "Wild Strawberries", "Through a Glass darkly", "Persona", "Winter light" and "Fanny and Alexander", it really pales in comparison. The ideas and the questions asked in this movie are pretty interesting and profound, but I feel that Bergman has done so much better in his later movies on similar subjects. The theme about the God's silence is much, much better developed in the famous "Faith Trilogy", especially "Through a glass darkly" and "Winter light". The theme about how to cope with fear of death is well developed, but couldn't really convince me. Also I feel that the film has too many "comic relief" moments. Many people have praised the cinematography in this movie, quite a few saying that it's one of the best ever. I beg to disagree. It's very, very good, excellent at times, but again Bergman has done so much better in his other movies. Personally I feel that the cinematography in Bergman's movies improved when he changed his director of photography Gunnar Fischer(who worked on this movie and "Wild Strawberries") with Sven Nykvist. Watch "Through a glass darkly" or "Persona" if you want a really stunning cinematography. But even "Wild Strawberries", made shortly after "The Seventh seal" and looking visually quite similar, is better IMO. Here the settings and the lighting looks too theatrical to me for most of the times. Of course, there were quite a few memorable images, especially the start with Death on the beach, the dance with Death at the end, the procession of the fanatics who whipped themselves through the village,etc. But still, something was lacking in many of the scenes. Bergman had to shoot the whole movie in just 35 days, so it's understandable IMO. After being so critical to the movie so far, it's time to mention its strong points. They are typical of Bergman's movies. Very strong acting(especially from Max von Sydov), amazing dark medieval atmosphere, really makes you think about the important questions. The music was very well and effectively used too. It's a great movie, no doubt, and it established Bergman as one of the all-time greats, which is big plus for a huge fan of him like myself. Still, my advice is: don't limit your Bergman experience to just this movie, watch his others, many of them are even better. 9/10


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