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The Seventh Seal 
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The Seventh Seal - A film about faith, doubt and one knight's search for a meaning to his life after 10 years of fighting and killing in the Crusades.

No English subtitles in the posted youtube below, but as there are only a few key dialogues that matter, and I've added aditional dialogue clips with subtitles at the end of this post. Watching this film without the burden of having to understand the detail of conversation, most of which is trivial and irrelevant in the great scheme of things, allows you to focus on what you see rather than what you hear. It's a bit like instrumental music, it better allows the ambient to seep in. Like a symphony, like The Ring, or a ballet, or a foreign language opera, it helps to know the story to provide the bones on which to hang your understanding of what you see

The Story

Set in the time of the Black Death, a knight returns home having survived the crusades only to find death waiting for him on the beach, but he's not ready to go with death just yet, so he challenge him to a chess match. Intrigued, death goes along with him, curious why such a man, who he has walked beside for the past 10 years, who he thought he had the measure of, should be hesitant now. The chess game is played in his mind whilst in the real world he goes about his business. The knight is full of doubt about the existence of god, his squire has no such doubts, he knows he doesn't exist, there is only death and oblivion.

They pass a band of travelling actors, the husband (Jof), wife (Mia) and baby (Mikael), and another member of the troupe. The story pauses to introduce us to them as they will appear again later. The husband is simple-minded, but kind, a rare quality not only for the time but in mankind today. He loves his wife and his baby, he's not a drunkard or a bully, and he's happy to pick a flower and marvel at its beauty. He is also gifted with a 3rd eye, and second sight and is about to see death and the super natural and has visions.

The knight's journey is to return to his castle and reunite with his wife, Karin. The knight and squire stop by a church where the squires chats with a guy painting a fresco of the Black Dance of Death. Suddenly it all becomes clear why they have been finding dead bodies on the way and why there is an atmosphere e of fear about the place. The knight seeks confession with the priest who turns out to be Death in disguise. Death wants to know why the Knight doesn't want to go with him. The knight reveals all, he doubts the existence of god, he wants proof he exists, his life is without meaning, and before he goes with death he wants to do one meaningful act in his life. Death drops his disguise and the knight is fuming, but what does Death care? The knight has said his attack is with knight and bishop (him and the chruch) and Death says he'll remember that. It's assumed he means that maliciously but he doesn't.

They run into a young girl, clearly with mental problems, who has been shouting her mouth of about how see's in league with the devil to make people notice her. The church has, and soldiers have been ordered to take away and burn her at the stake. As with the actors, she is introduced to reappear again in the story later.

They reach plague ravished village where only a servant girl has survived or not fled. A man robbing a corpse see her and moves in to rape and probably kill her when the squire arrives. The squire recognised the robber as the priest, Raval, who had convinced his master to go on the Crusades and has sworn to sort him out if he ever met him again. The squire beats him up and swears he'll do worse if he ever sees him again. The servant girl goes with the squire and the y set off into town, where the actors met earlier are putting on a show. The performance is interrupted by a passing procession of religious loony’s flogging themselves in repentance to get into heaven when the plagues calls for them. The head monk gives a fire and brimstone dialogue which can be summarised as "you're all miserable sinners, and you're all going to die", then the move on. After the show, the other actor travelling with Jof and Mia has it off with Lisa, the blacksmith's wife, and they disappear together for a bit. Next stop is the pub. Simple Jof, for whom the world was never meant for one as beautiful as him, is being bullied by that low life priest Raval who the squire had sent on his way, much to the amusement of equally low life, the general public, mindless drunken thugs all (doom rule: People are the pits). Ravel forces Jof to dance on the table until he's exhausted then he looks like he is about to kill him when in walks the squire. This time the knife comes out and Ravel beaten and cut runs for his miserable life.

The knight and squire join JOF and Mia for a meal of milk and berries and for the first time in his life feels he has experienced something worth fighting for, their love, how they shared it with him, and how for a long time they made him feel happy and contented. "I'll carry this memory between my hands as if it were bowl filled to the brim with fresh milk. And it will be an adequate sign. It will be enough for me." They team up and all head to the Knight's castle where they hope to wait out the passing of the plague. They meet the condemned young girl again. The knight is prepared to look into her eyes to ask the devil if god exists, but all he sees is a frightened little girl.

Later they stop to make camp and JOF sees the knight playing chess with Death. Fearing Death may see Jof, Mia and the baby, he knocks over the chess pieces with his cloak 'accidentally on purpose' to distract Death whilst terrified JOF flees with his family. This is the meaningful act the knight has been seeking to do before he dies, he has saved the only good people he has met in his life that are worth saving. In the chess game Death take the Knights queen, a reference to her being put on the list. There is no tricking Death or beating him, and Death knowing what has been done, allows it. Is this an act of kindness from Death? Death asks "have you accomplished your one meaningful deed yet?" And the knight says "I have".

The group reach the castle and find it too have been ravished and only his wife is left. That evening Death comes to taken them all The film ends with Jof seeing Death leading away the Knight, the Squire, the servant girl, and the knight's wife. They are joylessly dancing the dance of Death, hand in hand.

The full film in Swedish




The bits of dialogue you do need the dialogue for;

The Knight meets Death for the first time on the beach


Knights confession


Religious nut fire and brimstone sermon


Burning the young girl

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Wed Jun 29, 2016 8:00 am
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Post Re: The Seventh Seal

Love the film...

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Fri Jul 01, 2016 2:50 pm
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