*The Seventh Seal*, directed by Ingmar Bergman

We watched this movie the night before, and it struck me as very different this time around, perhaps because it is set during the time of the Crusades with the plague as a major theme. I no longer think the death character is real, and I now view the film as about how much we flirt with the idea of death, and apparitions of death, in order to make life tolerable and to feel in control. Don’t take the opening scene “as is,” but rather contrast it with all the other ways humans use the death theme for their own theatrical purposes (theatrical, both literally and figuratively) over the next 30-40 minutes of the movie, and then later throughout. Perhaps the key line is “All the damn ranting about death. Is that sustenance for modern people?”

Recommended, especially the new Blu-Ray edition of Bergman’s complete works.


If you're going to laugh in the face of death, always laugh with death, and never at death. Never tempt fate. Not until they restock the toilet paper.

I'd rather play chess with Death than run out of toilet paper. In HK, they robbed a truck full of TP which is out of character for such a rich city-state. Nobody will riot if there's a lack of tests or cures but they will if there's no TP. A wise man once said civilization is a few empty spools of toilet paper away from revolution.


Kudos for mentioning chess, and by TC too, in the graphic.

Bonus trivia: Ivan the Terrible died in the middle of a game of chess. I wonder, was he in a winning or losing position?

It's possible Ivan the Terrible killed more people than Death did, for awhile, so maybe they were pretty evenly matched.

Well, you can't stop at "The Seventh Seal." You have to watch "De Düva" to round out the experience. It's only about 14 minutes long...


“All the damn ranting about death. Is that sustenance for modern people?”

No, by way the thought of death has been ignored.

Can a commercial enterprise prosper promoting better deaths? Funeral homes don't advertise much.

Nevertheless, if you gotta go, you gotta go. :-)

[Block's squire, Jöns, returns from asking directions of a man who turns out to be long dead]
Block: Did he show you the way?
Jöns: Not exactly.
Block: What did he say?
Jöns: Nothing really.
Block: Was he mute?
Jöns: No, milord. He was most eloquent.
Block: Indeed.
Jöns: Yes, eloquent. But the speech he held was gloomy. One has to say that.

I am sad to apparently be the first to mention that Max von Sydow died on 8 March in the Provence at home.

No ranting, just a small memento mori, an idea which predates anything resembling a modern age.

"My body is ready, but I'm not"

Sums up a lot. Matter is always ready to follow its natural course. But along the way this thing called consciousness hitched a ride and wants desperately to change its fate.

Body: your only friend; your worst enemy.

I am sad to apparently be the first to mention that Max von Sydow died on 8 March in the Provence at home.

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I believe that's an ancestor of Greta Thunberg leading the self-flagellating pentitents into town and buzzkilling the traveling show.

Follow up with "Wild Strawberries" where death holds no fears. Just happy memories.

The translation at 0.23 is wrong. In answer to death's question, "Are you ready?", the knight answers "my body is AFRAID, but I'm not" (in Swedish: min kropp är rädd, inte jag själv). In the subtitles this is given as "my body is READY, but I am not", almost reversing the meaning of the exchange.

Several intervening lines which clarify this response are cut in the final version. The original script is as follows:
Death: Are you ready?
Knight: No I'm not ready.
Death: He who feels only indifference and emptiness should surely not be afraid to die.
Knight: It is my body that is afraid, not I myself.

The brings back memories. I saw The Seventh Seal at a Semiotics FIlm Festival back in the 1970s.

Interesting take. Misses the point of the film, though.

Bergman saw himself as the Knight, wanting to believe, but being held back. He wants to be the juggler, the true believer.

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