The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957) aka Det sjunde inseglet, wr. Ingmar Bergman, dp Gunnar Fischer; Max von Sydow, Gunnar Björnstrand, Nils Poppe, Bengt Ekerot, Bibi Andersson, Inga Gill, Maud Hansson, Inga Landgré, Gunnel Lindblom, Bertil Anderberg, Anders Ek, Ake Fridell, Gunnar Olsson, Erik Strandmark; knight returned from the Crusades plays chess with Death
This has always been at the top of my top ten. There had to be one Bergman film. The first one I saw was The Virgin Spring (Ingmar Bergman, 1960), simply because it was released when I was 17, and I would have seen it when I first started going to film festivals (the one in Perth,* in my case).# That could easily be in my top ten, but then the whole ten could be films directed by Bergman, so I chose the one that I think is the most universal.
The Seventh Seal has: flagellants; a witch burnt at the stake; a knight returned from the Crusades who plays chess and has a jocular squire; a lusty blacksmith; the Black Plague; an actor who is also juggler and can make a ball be still in midair and has second sight and visions of the Virgin Mary; and Death—what's to not like? It's Shakespeare but on film and in Swedish (and not in verse).
I think I've only seen this twice, and yet think I can remember everything in it. It's simply the best film I've ever seen, imho.
* [Irrelevance note. It annoys me that I should specify 'Perth Western Australia' for my international readership (lol) because there's not only the original one in Scotland, but another one in Ontario; and I can't use WA as the abbreviation because that's also an abbreviation for the State of Washington in youknowwhere (why didn't they choose a different second letter - or choose a different name, as they also have Washington DC?!) Let's rename this place Walyalup - or Byerbrup.]
# The Virgin Spring was screened as part of the Perth Film Festival at the Windsor Theatre Nedlands 15-20 January 1962. Other films that year included The World of Apu, Hiroshima mon amour, L'avventura, and Shadows.
Garry Gillard | New: 25 March, 2017 | Now: 30 March, 2021