segunda-feira, janeiro 06, 2014

Movie Review – The Seventh Seal

Movie Review – The Seventh Seal

por Raquel Emanuelle

 “Antonius Block: Nothing escapes you!
Death: Nothing escapes me. No one escapes me.”

            A knight that play chess with the death. This is the plot of the drama The Seventh Seal (1957) directed by the swedish Ingmar Bergman. The movie talks about the human restlessness by profound questions about the meaning of life, emptiness and existence. Nowadays, an old black and white movie could cause resistance in many people although it is difficult to find in contemporary cinema that great worry about the quality of story, dialogues, and other aesthetic narrative aspects that we can see in The Seventh Seal and Persona (1966), from the same director, or in the Nouvelle Vague movies.
            The title of the film is a quotation from the book The Revelation that it is inside the Bible. It is revels where the main place of the Bergman's critic are: the christian religion and faith are strongly questioned by the principal character while he seeks answers about the existence of God.
            The story is set at Europe on the middle age. After ten years serving the church in the Crusades, the knight Antonius Block, character interpreted by the actor Max von Sydow, back to the society where he used to live and is received to the Death, character of the actor Bengt Ekerot. In this first meeting, Antonius suggests a chess match with the Death to gain a little more time of life to reach some knowledge about the obscure nature of God's existence. While he is walking through the city on the way to his castle, seeking to understand his doubts, he start to observe the degradation of the church, priests and own Europe during the Black Plague. Although he has been a faithful servant of God throughout his life, all the war horrors and the sad pictures that arises in front his eyes, increasingly promote inquiries.
            It is interesting to observe how sofisticated dialogues combined inside a great story can turn the movie into a metaphor for human existence. When the main character, Antonius Block, says to his servant: “I met Death today, we are playing chess”, he brings the fantasy of that situation to a central narrative that is considered real. As a  result, the story suggests that all humanity go through life playing chess with Death.
            The Death became a hyper image of the Antonius restlessness inside the narrative and it is one of the most present and real thing in the story, as the other characters. The theme  creates an atmosphere of empathy with the viewer when the suggestion of a life that is a game with the death becames stronger during the film, calling the viewer to think about to his own existence. The final solution that Bergman brings to the story turned The Seventh Seal into a masterpiece in cinema history.
             This kind of profound questions about the human restlessness are present in many other films of Bergman as Wild Strawberries (1957), The Silence (1962), Persona (1966) and Cries and Whispers (1973). These films feature some of the obsessive themes of Ingmar Bergman such as religion, death, and silence, subjects also widely covered in The Seventh Seal. According to the website IMDB “Ingmar Bergman based the entire iconography of the movie on murals in a church where his clergyman father used to go and preach”.
            Also according to IMDB The Seventh Seal is one rare Bergman favorites of the over fifty films that the director has done and the inspiration for this movie came from the period films of Akira Kurosawa, of which Ingmar Bergman was a big fan.

            The Senventh Seal were nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival and won seven awards in the categories Best Film, Best Foreign Film, Best Foreign Director and Best Foreign Performer.

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