The Seventh Seal (Det Sjunde inseglet)

Critics Consensus

Narratively bold and visually striking, The Seventh Seal brought Ingmar Bergman to the world stage -- and remains every bit as compelling today.

93%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 56

93%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 49,194
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Movie Info

Disillusioned and exhausted after a decade of battling in the Crusades, a knight (Max von Sydow) encounters Death on a desolate beach and challenges him to a fateful game of chess.

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Critic Reviews for The Seventh Seal (Det Sjunde inseglet)

All Critics (56) | Top Critics (14)

  • You can hunt about in the history of the cinema and bring up a distant cousin or two for Bergman's great work. Yet, when all the delving is done, this film remains something quite distinct, a wonderful film which is not quite like any other.

    Mar 21, 2018 | Full Review…
    Guardian
    Top Critic
  • Bergman's visually striking medieval morality play [was] the work that gained him an international reputation.

    Jul 23, 2013 | Full Review…
  • Film has superior technical narrative, impressive lensing and thesping.

    Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Its view of a seemingly godless landscape in the grip of plague is still bold and frightening.

    Dec 7, 2007 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • It survives today only as an unusually pure example of a typical 50s art-film strategy: the attempt to make the most modern and most popular of art forms acceptable to the intelligentsia by forcing it into an arcane, antique mold.

    Jul 30, 2007 | Full Review…
  • The Seventh Seal is an existentialist masterpiece packed with stunning symbolism and mordant humour. It's also far more accessible that you might think. Go see it. Or else.

    Jul 20, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Seventh Seal (Det Sjunde inseglet)

  • Apr 21, 2019
    The Seventh Seal is a riveting, expertly-filmed, beautifully-written, and wildly intelligent exploration of Catholic and apocalyptic anxiety. Its existential dread and its haunting questions of purpose and the presence of God still feel real and as relevant today. The misogyny demonstrated throughout the film, however does not age well, and is an unfortunate product of both the time of the film's release and the age it seeks to portray. One could argue that the misogyny is intended to show the savagery of men, their sinful nature, and that Bergman was calling out this cruel reality.
    Matthew Samuel M Super Reviewer
  • Sep 06, 2016
    Classic film. Worth checking out.
    Stephen S Super Reviewer
  • May 20, 2016
    Few images in film surpass that of the knight Antonius Block playing chess with Death by the sea at the beginning of Ingmar Bergman's 'The Seventh Seal'. Also fantastic are the scenes of him asking for knowledge of God in a confessional, and the danse macabre on the hillside at the end. This film established Bergman on the international film scene, and while it may not be perfect, it will always be one of my favorites. A knight (Max von Sydow) and his squire (Gunnar Björnstrand) have returned from the Crusades to find Sweden ravaged by the plague. Under the torpor and ignorance of religion, the people flagellate themselves and blame and burn a witch. Death is all around, even in the form of a mask used by a troupe of circus performers, which include an innocent young married couple (Nils Poppe and Bibi Andersson) and their small child. It's the Dark Ages but the things we find are timeless: cruelty, hypocrisy, lust, and yet also the simplicity of love and the quest for God, however ridiculous His absence may seem. We see the knight faithful to the end, trying to give his life meaning by saving others, and his squire cynical of it all. "I could have purged your worries about eternity," the squire says, "but now it's too late. But feel, to the very end, the triumph of being alive!" Death is a certainty and he makes his presence felt, but where is God? Death himself has no answers to this, and wisely, neither does Bergman. Life simply goes on without us, and we must hold fast to sweet memories while they last. Magnificent. A couple of passages... This is the exchange at the confessional: Block: I want to confess as best I can...but my heart is void. The void is a mirror. I see my face...and feel loathing and horror. My indifference to men has shut me out. I live now in a world of ghosts...a prisoner in my dreams. Death: Yet you do not want to die. Block: Yes, I do. Death: What are you waiting for? Block: Knowledge. Death: You want a guarantee. Block: Call it what you will. Is it so hard to conceive God with one's senses? Why must He hide in a midst of vague promises...and invisible miracles? How are we to believe the believers when we don't believe ourselves? What will become of us who want to believe, but cannot? And what of those who neither will nor can believe? Why can I not kill God within me? Why does He go on living in a painful, humiliating way? I want to tear Him out of my heart...but He remains a mocking reality...which I cannot get rid of. Do you hear me? Death: I hear you. Block: I want knowledge. Not belief. Not surmise. But knowledge. I want God to put out His hand...show His face, speak to me. But He is silent. I cry to Him in the dark, but there seems to be no one there. Perhaps there is no one there. There life is a senseless terror. No man can live with Death and know that everything is nothing. Death: Most people think neither of Death nor nothingness. Block: Until they stand on the edge of life and see the Darkness. Death: Ah, that day. Block: I see. We must make an idol of our fear...and call it God. And this while eating strawberries with milk, the sweetest scene in the movie, with Block remembering his youth and pledging to remember this moment with his new friends: "We were newly-married. We played and laughed. I wrote songs to her eyes. We hunted, we danced, the house was full of life. ... To believe is to suffer. It is like loving someone in the dark...who never answers. How unreal that is in your company. It means nothing to me now. ... I shall remember this hour of peace...the strawberries, the bowl of milk...your faces in the dusk. Michael asleep, Joseph with his lute. I shall remember our words...and shall bear this memory between my hands...as carefully as a bowl of fresh milk."
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 08, 2015
    The Seventh Seal is a fine film, full of humor and verve. I do think the film is just a bit overhyped, especially compared with other Bergman films, but that does not take away from the fact that the Seventh Seal is still a highly enjoyable film. One can feel a love for movie-making throughout the film; it is really more about life than about death.
    Robert B Super Reviewer

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