Wednesday, August 31, 2005

"The Seventh Seal" by Ingmar Bergman

When we talk about Ingmar Bergman we must use the present tense, for the legend is still alive, thank goodness. Here is a man who loves theater, and "The Seventh Seal" is, in part, his tribute to the actors. The "death" theme that is often associated with "The Seventh Seal" is still the main narrative trunk, but I suspect Bergman wanted to use this opportunity to give his brothers and sisters in the theater world a more prominent role, so even though the protagonist of the movie (played by a young Max von Sydow in his platinum blond Viking cut) is a knight, the pivotal (and meaty) roles are given to a group of ethereal traveling actors whom the chess-playing and death-defying knight encounters during his fateful journey home.

To some, "The Seventh Seal" symbolizes the stern academic setting in which eager students of cinema are "force-fed" super serious movies like this one, particularly because the promotional materials of "The Seventh Seal" often include that sometimes-parodied gloomy picture of "Mr. Death" wrapped in his black robe. Bergman clearly intended to inject some optimistic air into this solemn piece by showing us the happy-go-lucky traveling actors who choose to live a robust life against a backdrop of black plague, utter misery, and pessimism. With that in mind, I therefore created a sunnier version of the "faux" movie poster for "The Seventh Seal", risking the possibility of irking the movie's purists.

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