Existentialism as Exemplified in ‘The Seventh Seal’
The Seventh Seal is a 1957 Swedish film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. The film offers interwoven storyline. It starts with a game of chess between a medieval knight, Antonius Block, and Death – in which if Block won, Death will prolong the knight’s life. This game goes on in intermittent times. The knight is accompanied by his squire, Jöns, as they go back to the knight’s castle to be reunited with his wife. Throughout their journey, they come across various characters and people in the village who are struggling amidst the impending death brought about by the Black Plague. Block and Jöns met Jof and Mia, the couple who work as actors. There they have conversed with each other and decided to go to Block’s castle as a refuge from the Plague. Block and Death comes to their final skirmish. Jof, guided by his visions, saw the knight playing chess with Death. Jof and his family decided to leave in order to escape from Death. Block distracts Death to allow Jof to escape. The knight and his companions arrive at the castle for a last supper, where they are to meet their fate. The movie is ended by the knight and the others, chained hand in hand, as they do the Dance of Death. The title of the movie, ‘The Seventh Seal’, refers to a particular passage taken from the Book of Revelation, “And when the Lamb had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour" (Revelation 8:1).
This silence refers to the “silence of God” or the existence of an “Absentee God” and His indifference to the needs of His creation – which is the primary theme of the movie. In general, the movie deals with the influence of religion in the society. Some inadequacies of religion are highlighted throughout the film. These faults include: lack of logical explanations for human’s suffering, proof of God’s existence, emphasis on physically-harming penitential acts such as flagellation, total shunning of...
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