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Seventh Seal, The (Det Sjunde Inseglet)

Director(s): Ingmar Bergman

Theatrical Release: 1957

Cast: Max Von Sydow, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Bengt Ekerot, Nils Poppe, Bibi Andersson, Gunnel Lindblom

Genre(s): Drama, Comedy, Fantasy, period piece, psychological, religion, classic, Criterion Collection, Dean's List

Countries: Sweden

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Ant Rating
Running Time: 96m.

Endlessly imitated and parodied, Ingmar Bergman's landmark art movie The Seventh Seal (Det Sjunde Inseglet) retains its ability to hold an audience spellbound. Bergman regular Max Von Sydow stars as a 14th-century knight, wearily heading home after ten years' worth of combat. Disillusioned by unending war, plague, and misery Von Sydow has concluded that God does not exist. As he trudges across the wilderness, Von Sydow is visited by Death (Bengt Ekrot), garbed in the traditional black robe. Unwilling to give up the ghost, Von Sydow challenges Death to a game of chess. If he wins, he lives—if not, he'll allow Death to claim him. As they play, the knight and the Grim Reaper get into a spirited discussion over whether or not God exists. To recount all that happens next would diminish the impact of the film itself; we can observe that The Seventh Seal ends with one of the most indelible of all of Bergman's cinematic images: the near-silhouette Dance of Death. Considered by some as the apotheosis of all Ingmar Bergman films (other likely candidates for that honor include Wild Strawberries and Persona), and certainly one of the most influential European art movies, The Seventh Seal won a multitude of awards, including the Cannes Film Festival prize. - Hal Erickson (


Criterion Collection DVD #11 Special Features:

! Audio commentary by noted film historian Peter Cowie

! An annotated, illustrated Bergman filmography, featuring excerpts from Wild Strawberries and The Magician with commentary

! Improved English subtitles

! Optional English-dubbed soundtrack

! Original theatrical trailer with optional English subtitles

! Restoration demonstration

! Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition