The Seventh Seal

The Seventh Seal ★★★★½

I kinda resent the way this movie has become a punchline. "Hey lets put on Seventh Seal, that'll really get the party going" *all the cool guys giggle* NO this viewing really solidified just how damn entertaining and full of variety this thing is. The Knight and his Death chess game are but one facet of a weird lil ensemble that attempts to show a spectrum of characters each with their own unique reactions to the Armageddon that sprouts up all around them. Maybe its not all that apt but the wide array of characters and wild tone shifts (that somehow work) brought Star Wars to mind (ya know? The vision actor is c3po or something? idk you can shoot me)

While you can see some of the turns coming its approach to black humor and pacing is still something to behold. Ingmar is not a one trick pony by any means (see Smiles of a Summer Night for god sakes) and this is the film where he brings it all to the table. He takes us from the darkest of existential sequences and then tosses into the middle of a silly romp involving the infidelity of villagers.

Seeing this as a teenager while I struggled with my own faith was one of the most profound interactions with art I will probably ever have. I can understand being turned off by various Bergman religious films because you yourself simply have little connection to religion BUT I would counter that in Seventh Seal and indeed in his "Religion Trilogy" the Judeo Christian god is simply the chosen example of something we all grapple with, and that is figuring out what the fuck to do when we realize (or are reminded) that nothing is certain. The silence of god, a relationship failing, a death of a loved one, disease, war, they all hit us at our darkest moments and remind us that we live amongst chaos, that there is no real "plan."

The great strength of this film is that it does not stop simply with the tragedy of this realization but also shows that there is joy here too. This was a huge realization for teenage me, worried about a life after religion. There is joy and freedom to be found in the chaos.
And yeah nothing lasts forever...(the sound of Death sawing down the tree I am in can suddenly be heard...along with his laughter)

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