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LGM Film Club, Part 360: The Seventh Seal

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I recently watched one of my all-time favorite films, Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 film The Seventh Seal. This film is so well-known, because of playing chess with death if nothing else. I still find this to be a brillant film, but there’s no question that Bergman’s reputation is not what it was 20 or 30 years ago. I think the reason is clear enough–Bergman was completely irony-free and so these explorations of faith and suffering are meant to be taken extremely seriously, which is hard for an irony-infused society today. And yeah, his films, with a couple of exceptions such as Smiles of a Summer Night, are not very fun to watch. They are serious to watch. But the loss of faith, while a very mid-20th century question, is a great topic for film. The chess with death stuff is amazingly conceived. Max Von Sydow is astounding as the knight and Gunnar Bjornstrand is perfect as his foil since whatever humor is in the film is his. The minor characters are super well played too. The sets are horrible; Bergman made this for almost no money and it shows. That would soon change as he became an international superstar. But for me anyway, this remains maybe the best film about religious doubt ever made and one of the all time masterpieces of film.

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