Combustible Celluloid
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With: Max von Sydow, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Nils Poppe, Bibi Andersson, Bengt Ekerot
Written by: Ingmar Bergman
Directed by: Ingmar Bergman
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Language: Swedish with English subtitles
Running Time: 96
Date: 02/16/1957

The Seventh Seal (1956)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Pawn Men

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Bergman's most popular and most acclaimed film, yet it doesn't do much for me (I've seen it twice now). Max von Sydow plays a knight returning from the crusades who challenges Death to a chess game. Inbetween moves he witnesses scenes of beauty and death, and gets to know a traveling group of entertainers. It manages some powerful images, but it feels a bit too calculated to really get under the skin. It's really rather juvenile and relies on grandiose theatrical ideas rather than the more subtle cinematic ones Bergman used in later films. It also invented all the silly art house movie clich├ęs that are still parodied to this day (and have not aged well). In 2009, The Criterion Collection released a super-deluxe two-disc DVD set.

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