Thursday, December 27, 2007

Soaking It In: The Seventh Seal

The Seventh SealThe Seventh Seal (1957) by Ingmar Bergman: 96 minutes, 8.4 IMDB, 95% fresh tomatoes

I've been looking forward to taking another look at The Seventh Seal. It’s funny, but since I’ve been chatting with people about these films I’ve discovered an underground community of Seventh Seal haters. We were at a puppet play the other night with friends and we got into a good, rollicking discussion about Seventh Seal. "I’ve tried to watch it a few times and I think I just don’t get it." "Oh, you get it. Guy plays chess with Death. You get that, right? Then you get the film." "Yeah, there’s just not that much to get."

Also, the redhead hates this film.

But with this latest viewing I've left the hated-it camp and joined the kinda-like-it camp.

Remember that Shakespeare stuff that I put on a mousepad? It helps to explain what I now see in The Seventh Seal. Here it is, with a little more context:
Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.
  - Julius Caesar (II, ii, 32-37)
Shakespeare wasn't really talking about death in Julius Caesar; he was talking about courage. Bergman wasn't really talking about death in The Seventh Seal; he was talking about morals. (Okay, they were both talking about death as well as those other topics; don't nitpick.)

So, yeah. I kinda like it now.

My notes:
  • 0:17:00 Meta discussion about why the painter paints death, which is really about why this film features death.
  • 0:25:00 More meta about the painter.
  • 0:35:00 The song's reference to the narrow gate is a reference to Matthew 7:13 -- "Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many be they that enter in thereby."
  • 1:03:00 I wonder how accurate the translations of Plog's insults are. "Strumpet Lisa." "Rump Lisa." "Dung pile." Good stuff.
  • 1:08:40 It's like Death is Bugs Bunny, sawing down the tree. The actor even looks like Elmer Fudd.
The cousinnephew summary:
  • I'm a little confused by that one.
  • They did a few cool things with lighting. A few sequences, like when the guy dies from the plague. And in the castle, the light at the window. I'm not sure why he did that. 'Cause if you're trying to give an atheistic outlook I think you'd darken rather than lighten.
  • (Did you like the movie?) It was all right. Probably need to watch it again to catch everything.
  • I thought they had some good actors. I really liked the squire.
  • (On Max von Sydow:) If you slapped enough makeup on him he'd look like Ephialtes from 300.
Some links:

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