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The Seventh Seal (The Criterion Collection)

Max von Sydow , Gunnar Björnstrand , Ingmar Bergman , Marie Nyreröd    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
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Product Description

Amazon.ca

Ingmar Bergman's 1956 film has been parodied by everyone from Woody Allen to Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, but it remains one of the strangest and richest classics of world cinema. Max Von Sydow plays a knight returning from the Crusades to encounter an apocalyptic scenario inspired by the Book of Genesis. He plays chess with Death (Bengt Ekerot), sees a manacled witch, watches a band of flagellants go by--all of it foretelling an inevitable end to life. Unabashedly allegorical and lyrical and existing in a world unto itself, the film is enormously mesmerizing no matter what one thinks of the weighty meanings Bergman has attached to it all. The DVD release has English subtitles, audio commentary by critic Peter Cowie, theatrical trailer, and Bergman's filmography. --Tom Keogh

Product Description

Few films have had as large a cultural impact as Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet). Disillusioned and exhausted after a decade of battling in the Crusades, a knight (Max von Sydow) encounters Death on a desolate beach and challenges him to a fateful game of chess. Much studied, imitated, even parodied, but never outdone, Bergman’s stunning allegory of man’s search for meaning was one of the benchmark foreign imports of America’s 1950s art house heyday, pushing cinema’s boundaries and ushering in a new era of moviegoing.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By K. Gordon TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Blu-ray
I feel like a fool for not loving this classic examination of the
existence (or lack thereof) of both God and the meaning of life more.

I appreciate it, with it's stark, lovely photography, attention to
detail, marvelous performances, and sly dark sense of humor that
balances the portentousness of the subject matter, and makes the film
much easier to watch than my teen film-class memories of it.

On the other hand, while I appreciate the film's importance in cinema
history, and the bravery with which it tackles the biggest of issues in
a head-on, intellectual way, I find it just that - a very intellectual
experience, devoid of much in the way of emotion. I also find some of
the writing painfully preachy and on the nose.

Yet, in the end, I admire what it accomplished in its time, and how
well it holds up 53 years later.

And seeing as I went from not liking it at all, to liking it quite a
bit on my 2nd viewing, I'm open to what a third seeing might bring.

As almost goes without saying, the Criterion blu-ray transfer
is stunning, and worth buying for the strength of the images,
even if you struggle with the film. I'm glad I got it.
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Blu-ray Winner Feb. 15 2012
By Argus TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Blu-ray
There was never a better showcase for black and white photography than Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal" with its stark contrasts and heavy symbolism. As such, Criterion's Blu-ray format enhances a beautiful and enduring film. Memorable scenes such as the chess game on the shore between Death and the knight gleam with breathtaking intensity. For those unfamiliar with the story, the knight (Max Von Sydow), returning disillusioned from the Crusades, challenges Death in order to gain time to save a family from the black plague. The clarity of Blu-ray seems to infuse this old masterpiece with renewed energy by bringing a sharper edge to the symbolic meaning, not only through the imagery but also, oddly, in the dialogue because, to some extent, the film is a synthesis of opposites. One of my favourite examples is the line: "If everything is imperfect in this world, love is perfect in its imperfection" (translated from Swedish, of course!). Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound, Memorable, & Challenging Jan. 21 2004
Format:DVD
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS NO SPOILERS-
For those who've never seen this film: It's always best to see a film yourself before investing in its purchase, and that may go doubly so for this picture. The Seventh Seal is one of those "deep" foreign films which explores metaphysical concepts in a sometimes heavy-handed manner. However, the style will more likely reflect the sincerity of the director towards the material, rather than ignorance or immaturity- this is accomplished through consistency. There is bleakness, with humor oozing out of every pore. A black comedy, this is a film for those who can tolerate some high-falootin' ideas and speech with their entertainment. Perhaps you're so smart and mature that you'll already know and understand most of the questions posed by Bergman- but it's still never been done quite like this. Though it isn't everyone's cup of tea, it has earned it's right to at least a try by those who love film and certainly by those interested in foreign film.
For those who have seen this film: The DVD itself isn't the best one could imagine- there aren't any extra scenes, behind-the-scenes, director's commentary, whatever. However, it IS the best available and, if you care to wait another decade for a better version- well, the consumer knows best and we all have spending priorities to contend with. The commentary that comes with the disc is really bad, as some other reviewers noted- he really does speak the brutally obvious, but it can be kinda a fun for a one-time thing. The English dubbed version does indeed, as another reviewer commented, make the film appear more like some sort of western (or even samauri) movie. I kinda liked it. The film speaks for itself, so you already know whether or not you like it and wish to add it to your collection.
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Was this review helpful to you?
By K. Gordon TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:VHS Tape
I feel like a fool for not loving this classic examination of the
existence (or lack thereof) of both God and the meaning of life more.

I appreciate it, with it's stark, lovely photography, attention to
detail, marvelous performances, and sly dark sense of humor that
balances the portentousness of the subject matter, and makes the film
much easier to watch than my teen film-class memories of it.

On the other hand, while I appreciate the film's importance in cinema
history, and the bravery with which it tackles the biggest of issues in
a head-on, intellectual way, I find it just that - a very intellectual
experience, devoid of much in the way of emotion. I also find some of
the writing painfully preachy and on the nose.

Yet, in the end, I admire what it accomplished in its time, and how
well it holds up 53 years later.

And seeing as I went from not liking it at all, to liking it quite a
bit on my 2nd viewing, I'm open to what a third seeing might bring.

As almost goes without saying, the recent Criterion blu-ray transfer
is stunning. A film this image dependent deserves to be seen
in the best quality possible, and I'd urge you to consider the
blu-ray, or at least the Criterion DVD. I'm glad I got it.
Was this review helpful to you?
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Seventh Seal
The Seventh Seal is one of the few movies that can be labelled: a Masterpiece. All its components fuse into a homgeneous whole. It does not date and remains visually vivid. Read more
Published on June 27 2011 by Claude Aubanel
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb new edition
This is of course one of the all-time great films, and the new Criterion release gives you an impeccable transfer of it, light and shadow stunningly sharp and clear. Read more
Published on Nov. 5 2009 by Gary Fuhrman
5.0 out of 5 stars A true masterpiece
Despite what might sound like dark and depressing topic this movie is actually quite entertaining and I even found myself laughing a few times. Read more
Published on Sept. 27 2009 by Rec Puyol
4.0 out of 5 stars Great film
More people have given excellent, intelligent reviews. Excellent disc and a great film. I'll leave it at that.
Published on Aug. 13 2009 by nobody
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Release of Bergman's Masterpiece
Crusader, Antonious Block (Max Von Sydow) and his squire Jöns (Gunnar Björnstrand) have returned home after ten years. Read more
Published on April 4 2008 by K. Driscoll
4.0 out of 5 stars Knight challenges "Death" to chess match for his life
this is the first Ingmar Bergman i have seen.Bergman is a very revered
Swedish director.i wasn't sure what to expect with this film,but i had
wanted to see it for some... Read more
Published on Oct. 1 2007 by falcon
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing and thought provoking movie.
This film is absolutely amazing. It is one of the few movies I watch more than once or twice.
It is an achievment in style. Read more
Published on July 10 2004 by M. Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars The silence of God!
Ingmar Berman(1918) established a challenging premise a chess mate between a knight from the Crusaders and the Death (Bengt Ekrot). Read more
Published on July 6 2004 by Hiram Gomez Pardo
2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated
The Seventh Seal put me to sleep. I guess Woody Allen saw this one fifty times and the critics thought it was deep man, but I had a hard time keeping my lids from falling. Read more
Published on June 16 2004 by R. A Rubin
5.0 out of 5 stars When in doubt, play chess with Death...
The film was produced in a world recovering from the devastation of WWII, and living in fear of the mushrom cloud. Read more
Published on May 6 2004 by isala
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