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Watching "The Seventh Seal"

Posted at 10:16 AM on September 17, 2007 by Euan Kerr

The stars finally aligned Saturday evening and it was off to the Oak Street for the Bergman Tribute and a chance to see "The Seventh Seal" on the big screen.

What a treat!

Sitting there in the dark watching the black and white film roll took me back to the excitement of being a teenager discovering European cinema for the first time.

"The Seventh Seal" may seem clunky by today's standards as it tells the tale of the returning crusader who plays chess with Death to decide his fate, and that of his travelling companions.

Yet is it packed with beautiful images and existential angst. What else could you want from a film?

A young Max von Sydow guides his chiseled jaw and cropped blond hair through the nightmare of a sun-drenched land beset by plague. He encounters Death (Bengt Ekerot) and treats him almost as a friend. Even as they play their game his squire Jons (Gunnar Bjornstrand ) wrestles with his own problems with the church and hypocrisy as he meets people along the road. And then there is the performing troupe they meet along the way (including the bewitching Bibi Andersson. ) The members always live in hope despite having fallen on hard times.

We know what is going to happen all the way through the movie, as Death always gets his way in the end, but Bergman makes the terrible journey fascinating.

"The Seventh Seal" just completed it's short run at the Oak Street. but the Bergman Tribute continues for another week with "Cries and Whispers" tomorrow and Wednesday.

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