The Seventh Seal
Desperate for answers amidst the low water pressure and saccharin-infested soft drink lifestyle that is London, I was amazed to discover that the city on the Thames could actually sell out a 160-seat showing of this film on a Wednesday night. A similar showing in the States would only bring in a few homeless people looking for shelter, who would then line up at the ticket window afterward to demand refunds because they found the "existentialist underpinnings of Bergman to be wholly unsatisfying."
For those of you early on in your cinematic education wondering why Isabella Rosellini's mother would wish to bore the whole of humanity instead of flashing her pretty face in front of the camera: that's Ingmar not Ingrid. The reflective Swede Ingmar is responsible for a whole series of films so deep in their symbolism that an entire generation of intellectuals has emerged from theaters around the world believing if they could just stop the boredom by beating themselves to death with a couple volumes of Sartresian philosophy, life might actually have some meaning.
Even if you have no idea what I'm talking about, you're probably familiar with the premise of a medieval knight (Max Von Sydow) returning to a land ravaged by the Black Plague and playing chess with Death (Bengte Ekerot) to prolong his life. You're familiar with it because you probably saw a clip from Woody Allen's "Love and Death." Bergman was a huge influence on Allen, which is reason enough to stay away from them both. If all of this is new to you, it's best to abandon the review right here and go back to that game of "Tomb Raider 2" -- and be careful not to put an eye out with the joystick.
Apparently, the high critical regard for this film stems from Bergman's insightful examination of life's tough questions. How a medieval knight and his squire (Gunnar Bjornstrand) running around the countryside wondering about life and its meaning constitutes great filmmaking is beyond me. It's not that far from "Beavis and Butthead Do Sweden."
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