Wednesday, September 17, 2008

THE SEVENTH SEAL (Ingmar Bergman, 1957, Sweden) Antonius Block, a Knight left spiritually vacant by his false Crusade, is stalked by Death on his return trip home to his family. He is confronted by Death and challenges him to a game of chess…Death taking the black pieces, of course. The game is not one Antonius can win; he only wishes to buy time and find meaning to his life by committing one last good act. As he and his squire Jons travel across plague-ridden Europe they encounter many strange people and situations that challenge Block’s faith while supporting his squire’s wry existential philosophy. Block fears the eternal Abyss and annulment of a Godless death while Jons accepts it unflinchingly; it’s a terrible thing to live in fear…so just live. The Knight is able to distract Death so the innocent jester and his family survive thus finding some solace. Eventually he and his companions must face Death each on his own terms. And Death does not reveal his secrets. NOTE: I watched this on a European Import Blu-Ray and the image quality was jaw-dropping; though not perfect, this is one great looking classic film in black and white. The depth of focus in the 4:3 ratio and natural lighting was perfectly contrasted and subtle facial details (the flinch of an eye, a small twitch, teeth firmly clenched, etc.) are clearly revealed. I hope more important cinema is released in High Definition because we deserve to see these films the way their creators intended! (A)

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