The Seventh Seal

The Seventh Seal ★★★★½

My Great Uncle Jim, may he rest in peace, used to sit next to me at the dinner table every Thanksgiving and ask me "Hey Scott, seen any good movies lately?". Whatever I answered, if it was a film made after 1980 he would immediately show his disinterest and say "They just don't make em' like they used to", and I would roll my eyes and continue eating my dry turkey and canned cranberry sauce. I couldn't help but think of him while watching The Seventh Seal for the first time (that's right, first time, wanna fight about it?).

They really don't make films like The Seventh Seal anymore. At least, if they do, I certainly am missing out on them. A pretty damn brilliant work by Ingmar Bergman which addresses topics that plague our minds on a regular basis, death and the existence of God. I will admit having a lot of trouble with those topics in years past, after the birth of my daughter. I would look at her tiny smile, and give her a hug, and consider the possibility that someday I would have to leave her behind. I am not a religious man, but I am also not an atheist, and my love for her made me want to believe in a God, an afterlife.

The Terrence Malick film The Tree of Life helped a lot in this regard, because that is a work of art that taught me to appreciate the miracle that is life. It taught me to not worry about what is to come in the future, but live in the now, because I am amazingly lucky to even be able to have and hold a daughter. In order to live life, I must not fear death. I believe it is a good thing that I waited this long to see The Seventh Seal, because at a different place in my life the thoughts of dying alone and questioning what was waiting for me on the other side, the idea of nothingness, would have haunted me.

This is not to say that the film is a joyless jump into depression. I was actually surprised at how funny and clever the film was at times, making me laugh on more than one occasion. The whole cast is incredible, but the best moments of the movie are the exchanges between Max Von Sydow as Antonious Block and Bengt Ekerot as Death. I couldn't get enough of Antonious literally facing his fear, and the idea of a game of chess between the two was absolutely perfect.

I will be honest, I am not sure why I awarded this film a score of 4.5/5. This is a stunning, important work, but when it ended I wasn't left with that feeling I get when I know I have just seen something that deserves the highest honor. Perhaps it is as simple as having too much to think about late at night before I went to sleep, but I know deep down what I saw was a masterpiece. I will revisit The Seventh Seal again soon, I have to. I want to.

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