on September 27, 2009
Despite what might sound like dark and depressing topic this movie is actually quite entertaining and I even found myself laughing a few times. This classic has received much praise throughout the years and I must agree with it all. Criterion has once again done a phenomenal job with the Blu-ray release. When you consider the age of the film and the even older equipment used to make it, the video quality is impressive. The special features are plentiful, including a feature-length documentary on Ingmar Bergman.
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. The feature-length interview documentary on disc 2 reveals much of the intimate connection between Bergman's life and his art, in his own words (it includes reflections on several films, not just The Seventh Seal). If you're only going to buy one Bergman on DVD, this should be it.
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.
on February 15, 2012
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.