I love Max Von Sydow, and thanks to DK Canada’s The Movie Book, it was high time for me to dig into one of his most iconic roles in Bergman’s classic The Seventh Seal. This was the first time I had sat down to watch it, and I won’t lie, it also put me in mind to watch Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.
A knight, Antonius Block (Sydow), is returning from the Crusades with his squire, Jons (Gunnar Bjornstand) but finds not only the plague waiting for him, as it sweeps the country, but Death (Bengt Ekerot).
Block challenges Death to a game of chess for his life, and as the two play, Block confronts his own worries about death, god, life, and faith. He is looking for meaning in his life, and wants to do one thing with it that is truly important.
Along the path of his journey he begins collecting fellow travellers, including Jof (Nils Popper), his wife Mia (Bibi Andersson), they encounter a witch (Maud Hansson) that is to be burned at the stake, a blacksmith (Ake Fridell) and his flirt of a wife, Lisa (Inga Gill).
They agree to travel the forest together, and Death hints that he may be after Jof and his family in addition to the good, sir knight.
This ends up being a very beautifully crafted film, and I was surprised by how much humour there was in the film. I had heard so much about it over the years that I thought it would be just a dark, moody film that pontificates and postures, but I found it to be a truly engaging film, Sydow was amazing, and it deals with thoughts, doubts and questions we all have.
While Sydow’s knight wrestles with his own doubt and belief, Jof, an actor, and a bit of a fool, has belief and faith thrust upon him by his visions. No one believes that he sees angels and demons, but as viewers when he reveals that he sees Death as clearly as we do, that leads to the possibility that his other visions are true as well. And while Death knows nothing of what lays beyond, he is only the ferryman, Jof and by extension the audience knows that there is something more – because he has seen it.
I rather enjoyed that message.
I Also think that despite the fact I never saw this film when I was younger, I think it means more to me now having waited. Some classics, you just have to wait for, and this one is totally worth it!
Find that one, and so many more in the amazing DK Books’ The Movie Book. Check out a classic tonight!