Cinema History Essay

1070 words - 5 pages

Ingmar Bergman’s film, Seventh Seal, reflects his views on life in an allegorical fashion. Bergman utilizes the setting of a medieval, plague-ridden landscape to metaphorically investigate the existence of god and meaning of life. The film follows the knight, Antonius, as he returns from the Crusades with his squire, Jöns. Bergman uses black and white to enhance the mood. The film’s vivid imagery and powerful score challenge the viewer to interpret the film’s messages and assign them meaning. The film investigates the deepest philosophical questions of humanity. Compared with Akira Kurosawa’s film, Ikiru, the Seventh Seal expresses a darker outlook on the world. Bergman’s cinematic ...view middle of the document...

In one scene, Jöns seeks directions from a man who appears to be sleeping; the man is dead and rotting. Not only is the man unable to provide direction, but there is also no divine direction. The plague represents the absence of God and humanity’s uncertainty when faced with unexplainable destruction. In a scene later in the film, death impersonates a confessional priest. He listens as Antonius speaks about the mystery of god, stating, "Is it so cruelly inconceivable to grasp God with the senses? Why should he hide himself in a mist of half-spoken promises and unseen miracles? What is going to happen to those of us who want to believe but aren't able to?” Death, who embodies the complete absence of life, remains silent.
Bergman depicts mans suffering, metaphorically addressing the inabilities of humanity to comprehend the purpose of both the human self and the divine. The plague challenges faith, as an incomprehensible punishment inflicted for unexplainable reasons. It leaves the populous to deal with the absence of divine direction. This is demonstrated very powerfully throughout the film. Jof and his fellow actors dance and sing on a small village stage. The actors represent innocence and good nature. Abruptly, religious music interrupts the actor’s production. A procession of priests, baring crosses and incense, marches though the village. They sing in unison as shirtless men accompanying them whip themselves and each other. The entire village drops to its knees as the horrifying parade of suffering passes. This demonstrates the absence of God. The religious, unable to comprehend the suffering that is the plague, torture themselves in an attempt to appease God. This phenomenon is continued when Antonius witnesses a young girl tied to a post. She is deprived of water and whimpering in pain. The authorities believe her to be bewitched by the devil and the cause of the plague. The girl is to be burned alive. This event communicates the true horror of humans left to suffering and doubt.
The actor Jof and his wife Mia represent natural beauty and good nature. The scenes with them bring a warmth and happiness to the,...

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