Like my book reviews site, these are movie reviews I write for entertainment purposes only. These are just my reviews and my opinions. They are not endorsed by Blogger or any movie studios or anyone else. So there. I borrowed my scoring system from the Metacritic site, which does not imply an endorsement from them, although I think they do have a very nice website. I convert the 1-100 scores into 1-4 stars, essentially it works like this:

1 star = 25 points
2 stars = 50 points
3 stars = 75 points
4 stars = 100 points

And then if something falls about halfway between, then I'll give it an added half-star.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Seventh Seal

This goes in my "Classic Films You Should Watch." Even though it's in black-and-white and even though the dialog is in Swedish with English subtitles and even though there are no killer robots, spaceships, superheroes, zombies, or vampire romances.

This is the kind of movie I new I should probably watch like how I think I should probably read "War & Peace" or "Ulysses" at some point but the reason I don't is I figure it'll be boring and confusing. In this case, though, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the movie wasn't boring at all--despite that it's what I said in the first paragraph.

"The Seventh Seal" of the title comes from a Bible verse about the end of the world. Before the Seventh Seal is opened and the world destroyed the angels gather themselves for a half hour, giving the world a sort of respite. It's the same respite a Swedish knight finds when he returns home from the Crusades in the 14th Century. Not long after he and his squire arrive on the beach, the Grim Reaper shows up to collect the knight's soul. But the clever knight challenges Death to a game of chess, giving him a reprieve.

During a break in the game, the knight and his squire travel towards the knight's castle. They stop at a town that's been ravaged by the Black Death (bubonic plague) to the point that the scholar who convinced the knight to go on the Crusades has turned to stealing from the dead. A trio of actors show up at the town as well to perform, though they're upstaged by Flagellants, religious zealots who whip themselves as penance for the plague. When one of the actors runs off with the wife of the local blacksmith, his fellow actor is nearly killed by the blacksmith. The knight, blacksmith, and actors then all head to the knight's castle along with an unseen party: Death.

The movie searches for the meaning of life and death through the differing views of its characters. The knight is seeking some meaning to life and glimpse into what awaits him in the afterlife. His cynical squire figures that there is no heavenly reward waiting any of us. The actor takes a more upbeat view, thinking he sees angels and devils everywhere. As for the blacksmith, he's pretty oblivious to everything except his slutty wife.

As well the movie illustrates the insanity that breaks out in times of crisis. Besides the zealous Flagellants and thieving professor there's also a young girl being burned at the stake for suspicion of witchcraft. With death, insanity, and Death lurking everywhere, it's no wonder the knight has a hard time finding any reassurance about the presence of God.

This is an interesting and insightful look at the world and yet as I said at the beginning it's not boring either. I especially liked the squire character, whose cynicism and pragmatism is a great balance to his master. The actor, or fool might be the better term, is also an interesting character because he contrasts with the squire.

Overall, this is a great movie and if you're willing to actually watch a movie that will challenge you and make you think, rent this some time.

That is all.

My score: 100/100 (4 stars)

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