The Seventh Seal

The Seventh Seal ★★★★

A haunting mockery of death and a rumination on the frailty of human mortality, The Seventh Seal is sardonic in tone, riddled with a morbid humour and dark irony. It commences with an intensely theatrical opening, combining dramatic music with a shot of pulsating clouds in a darkening sky, and a lone crow hanging there, suspended. With a face chiselled with uncertainty, a solitary knight prays by the sea. There is an unfathomable absurdity within the dialogue of this film... there were four suns in the heavens yesterday..

Many of the characters' utterances I am unable to grasp or understand, and perhaps Bergman meant for it to be this way. A man converses unapologetically with the horses, laughing maniacally. The suffering of man is depicted in gruesome detail, unnervingly callously recounted... See how the body contracts, until his limbs become a rope of madness... he gnaws at his hands, rips out his veins with his nails. His scream is heard everywhere. Are you scared? And then there are themes of social and psychological estrangement, where the knight grapples with an internal crisis, unknowingly unburdening to death himself. Now I live in a ghost world, enclosed in my dreams and imaginings... How miserable life is for one living more within his own head than the reality. 

The knight is afflicted with this intense spiritual crisis, seeming to lack the moral or religious foundations he perhaps needs to ground him into this dreary world. He grapples for god, but his hands flay wildly, unreaching. God is hiding in a cloud of half-promises and unseen miracles... I want knowledge! Not faith, not assumptions, but knowledge. And perhaps this is his tragedy. He looks upon his own ignorance as something insufferable, the source of his torment. He craves an encounter with God, not for stability, or out of spiritual yearning, but to satisfy his insatiable drive for knowledge... a god of gaps. We must make an idol of our fear, and that idol we shall call God.

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