The Seventh Seal

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The Seventh Seal
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ingmar Bergman
Produced by Allan Ekelund
Screenplay byIngmar Bergman
Based onTrämålning
by Ingmar Bergman
Music by Erik Nordgren
Cinematography Gunnar Fischer
Edited byLennart Wallén
Distributed by AB Svensk Filmindustri
Release date
  • 16 February 1957 (1957-02-16)
Running time
96 minutes [1]
  • Swedish
  • Latin
Budget $150,000 [2]

The Seventh Seal (Swedish : Det sjunde inseglet) is a 1957 Swedish historical fantasy film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. Set in Sweden [3] [4] during the Black Death, it tells of the journey of a medieval knight (Max von Sydow) and a game of chess he plays with the personification of Death (Bengt Ekerot), who has come to take his life. Bergman developed the film from his own play Wood Painting. The title refers to a passage from the Book of Revelation, used both at the very start of the film, and again towards the end, beginning with the words "And when the Lamb had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour". [Rev. 8:1] Here the motif of silence refers to the "silence of God," which is a major theme of the film. [5] [6]

Swedish language North Germanic language spoken in Sweden

Swedish is a North Germanic language spoken natively by 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden, and in parts of Finland, where it has equal legal standing with Finnish. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and to some extent with Danish, although the degree of mutual intelligibility is largely dependent on the dialect and accent of the speaker. Both Norwegian and Danish are generally easier for Swedish speakers to read than to listen to because of difference in accent and tone when speaking. Swedish is a descendant of Old Norse, the common language of the Germanic peoples living in Scandinavia during the Viking Era. It has the most speakers of the North Germanic languages.

Historical fantasy genre of fiction

Medieval fantasy is a sub-genre of fantasy that encompasses the Middle Ages as well as sometimes and simply represents fictitious versions of historic events. This sub-genre is common among role-playing games and high fantasy literature. It can include various elements of medieval European culture and society, including a monarchical government, feudal social structure, medieval warfare, and mythical entities common in European folklore. Works of this genre may have plots set in biblical times or classical antiquity. They often have plots based very loosely on mythology or legends of Greek-Roman history, or the surrounding cultures of the same era.

Ingmar Bergman Swedish filmmaker

Ernst Ingmar Bergman was a Swedish director, writer, and producer who worked in film, television, theatre and radio. Considered to be among the most accomplished and influential filmmakers of all time, Bergman's films include Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957), Persona (1966), Cries and Whispers (1972), Scenes from a Marriage (1973), and Fanny and Alexander (1982); the last two exist in extended television versions.


The Seventh Seal is considered a classic of world cinema, as well as one of the greatest movies of all time. It established Bergman as a world-renowned director, containing scenes which have become iconic through homages, critical analysis, and parodies.

World cinema film genre

World cinema is not the sum-total of all films made around the world. Its use is analogous to the use of the term "world literature". Goethe used the concept of Weltliteratur in several of his essays in the early decades of the nineteenth century to describe the international circulation and reception of literary works in Europe, including works of non-Western origin. An interest in "world cinema" suggests an awareness of high-quality films made outside the Hollywood studio system which dominates international viewership. However, some people use the term to refer to the film and film industries of non-English-speaking countries in English-speaking countries. Equating the dominant form of cinema with the dominant language (English) can be inherently problematic.There are many countries such as Canada, England, South Africa and even Asian countries like India, where films are made in English but they are part of "world cinema" due to their marginal status in terms of access or viewership. It can be argued that an understanding of "world cinema" centering around Hollywood cinema suggests a Eurocentric view. "World cinema" is often used interchangeably with the term foreign film. "Foreign" is also a relative term, suggesting a Western viewpoint. One person's national cinema can be another person's foreign film. In fact, American independent cinema may be considered part of "world cinema" as it does not have adequate access.


Disillusioned knight Antonius Block (Max von Sydow) and his nihilistic squire Jöns (Gunnar Björnstrand) return from the Crusades to find Sweden ravaged by the plague. The knight encounters Death (Bengt Ekerot), whom he challenges to a chess match, believing he can forestall his demise as long as the game continues. Death agrees, and they start a new game which continues throughout the story.

Max von Sydow Swedish actor

Max von Sydow is a Swedish-born French actor. He has held French citizenship since 2002. He has appeared in many European and American films in several languages, including Swedish, English, Norwegian, Danish, German, French, Italian, and Spanish. He received the Royal Foundation of Sweden's Cultural Award in 1954, was made a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres in 2005, and was named a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur on 17 October 2012.

Nihilism is the philosophical viewpoint that suggests the denial or lack of belief toward the reputedly meaningful aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism, which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value. Moral nihilists assert that there is no inherent morality, and that accepted moral values are abstractly contrived. Nihilism may also take epistemological, ontological, or metaphysical forms, meaning respectively that, in some aspect, knowledge is not possible, or reality does not actually exist.

Squire historical profession

Starting in the Middle Ages, a squire was the shield- or armour-bearer of a knight. At times, a squire acted as a knight's errand runner.

Death and Antonius Block choose sides for the chess game; Death gets the black pieces. Ingmar Bergman-The Seventh Seal-01.jpg
Death and Antonius Block choose sides for the chess game; Death gets the black pieces.

The knight and his squire pass by actors Jof (Nils Poppe) and his wife Mia (Bibi Andersson) with their infant son Mikael and actor-manager Jonas Skat (Erik Strandmark). Jof, prone to lying, has visions of Jesus and Mary.

Nils Poppe Swedish entertainer

Nils Poppe was a Swedish actor, comedian, director, screenwriter and theatre manager. He is internationally most famous for his part in Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal, but in Sweden he was much loved and participated in over 50 films on cinema and TV.

Bibi Andersson Swedish actress

Berit Elisabeth Andersson, known professionally as Bibi Andersson, is a Swedish actress.

Erik Strandmark Swedish actor

Erik Alfred Strandmark was a Swedish film actor. He was born in Torsåker, Sweden and died in a plane crash in Trinidad in 1963.

Block and Jöns enter a church where a fresco of the Dance of Death is being painted. The squire draws a figure representing himself, chiding the artist for colluding in the ideological fervour that led to the disastrous crusade. In the confessional, Block admits that he wants to perform "one meaningful deed". [7] Upon revealing the chess strategy that will save his life, the knight discovers the priest is Death. Leaving the church, the knight speaks to a young woman (Maud Hansson) condemned to be burned at the stake for consorting with the devil. He believes she will tell him about life beyond death, only to discover her beyond sanity.

<i>Danse Macabre</i> artistic motif on the universality of death

The Danse Macabre, also called the Dance of Death, is an artistic genre of allegory of the Late Middle Ages on the universality of death: no matter one's station in life, the Dance Macabre unites all.

Confessional small, enclosed booth used for confession

A confessional is a box, cabinet, or stall in which the priest in some Christian churches sits to hear the confessions of penitents. It is the usual venue for the sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Churches, but similar structures are also used in Anglican churches of an Anglo-Catholic orientation. In the Catholic Church, confessions are only to be heard in a confessional or oratory, except for a just reason.

Chess strategy is the aspect of chess playing concerned with evaluation of chess positions and setting of goals and long-term plans for future play. While evaluating a position strategically, a player must take into account such factors as the relative value of the pieces on the board, pawn structure, king safety, position of pieces, and control of key squares and groups of squares. Chess strategy is distinguished from chess tactics, which is the aspect of play concerned with the move-by-move setting up of threats and defenses. Some authors distinguish static strategic imbalances, which tend to persist for many moves, from dynamic imbalances, which are temporary. This distinction affects the immediacy with which a sought-after plan should take effect. Until players reach the skill level of "master", chess tactics tend to ultimately decide the outcomes of games more often than strategy does. Many chess coaches thus emphasize the study of tactics as the most efficient way to improve one's results in serious chess play.

Jöns saves a mute servant girl (Gunnel Lindblom) from being raped by Raval (Bertil Anderberg), a theologian who ten years prior convinced the knight to join the Crusades. Jöns vows to brand him on the face if they meet again. The servant girl joins Jöns into town, where the actors are performing. Skat is enticed by Lisa (Inga Gill)—wife of the sentimental and violent blacksmith Plog—away for a tryst. The performance is interrupted by a procession of flagellants.

Gunnel Lindblom Swedish actress

Gunnel Märtha Ingegärd Lindblom is a Swedish film actress and director. As an actress she has been particularly associated with the work of Ingmar Bergman, though in 1965 she performed the lead role in Miss Julie for BBC Television. She also played the key-role of The Mummy in Bergman's staging of Strindberg's The Ghost Sonata in 1998-2000, a performance that earned her much critical acclaim.

Rape type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse without consent

Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority, or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or is below the legal age of consent. The term rape is sometimes used interchangeably with the term sexual assault.

Bertil Anderberg actor

Otto Bertil Anderberg was a Swedish film actor. He was born in Malmö, Sweden and died in Gothenburg.

At the town's public house, Raval manipulates Plog and the other customers into intimidating Jof, who is forced to dance on the tables like a bear. The bullying is broken up by Jöns; true to his word, he slashes Raval's face. [8] The knight and squire are joined by Jof's family and a repentant Plog. Block enjoys a picnic of milk and wild strawberries gathered by Mia, and declares: "I'll carry this memory between my hands as if it were a bowl filled to the brim with fresh milk... And it will be an adequate sign—it will be enough for me." [9]

Block relaxes his pursuit of religious meaning, and invites Plog and the actors to shelter from the plague in his castle. They encounter Skat and Lisa in the forest. Lisa returns to Plog, while Skat fakes a remorseful suicide. The group moves on, and Skat climbs a tree. Death appears and cuts down the tree, killing Skat.

Meeting the condemned woman again, Block asks her to summon Satan so he can ask him about God. The girl claims she has done so, but the knight only sees her terror, and gives her herbs to take away her pain. [10] Jöns and Block watch grimly as her sentence is carried out.

They encounter Raval, dying of the plague. Jöns stops the servant girl from bringing him water, and Raval dies alone. Jof tells his wife that he can see the knight playing chess with Death, and decides to flee with his family while Death is preoccupied. [11]

The final scene depicting the Danse Macabre. Det-sjunde-inseglet-The-Seventh-Seal-Bergman-1957-dance-of-death.png
The final scene depicting the Danse Macabre .

Death states "No one escapes me", and Block knocks the chess pieces over to distract Death while Jof's family slips away. Death restores the pieces and wins the game on the next move. He announces that when they meet again, the knight's time—and that of those traveling with him—will be up. Death asks if he has accomplished his one "meaningful deed"; Block replies that he has.

Block reunites with his wife, Karin (Inga Landgré). The party shares a "last supper,” and Block prays to God, "Have mercy on us, because we are small and frightened and ignorant." [12] The mute servant girl speaks: "It is finished."

Jof's family sits out a storm, which he interprets to be "the Angel of Death... and he's very big". In the morning, Jof’s second sight allows him to see the knight and his followers being led away over the hills in a solemn Dance of Death.



Filming of The Seventh Seal at Filmstaden Sjunde inseglet 1957.jpg
Filming of The Seventh Seal at Filmstaden

Bergman originally wrote the play Trämålning (Wood Painting) in 1953 / 1954 for the acting students of Malmö City Theatre. The first time it was performed in public was in radio in 1954, directed by Bergman. He also directed it on stage in Malmö the next spring, and in the autumn it was staged in Stockholm, directed by Bengt Ekerot who would later play the character Death in the film version. [13]

In his autobiography, The Magic Lantern, Bergman wrote that "Wood Painting gradually became The Seventh Seal, an uneven film which lies close to my heart, because it was made under difficult circumstances in a surge of vitality and delight." [14] The script for the Seventh Seal was commenced while Bergman was in the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm recovering from a stomach complaint. [15] It was at first rejected[ who? ] and Bergman was given the go-ahead for the project from Carl-Anders Dymling at Svensk Filmindustri only after the success at Cannes of Smiles of a Summer Night [16] Bergman rewrote the script five times and was given a schedule of only thirty-five days and a budget of $150,000. [17] It was to be the seventeenth film he had directed. [18]

All scenes except two were shot in or around the Filmstaden studios in Solna. The exceptions were the famous opening scene with Death and the Knight playing chess by the sea and the ending with the dance of death, which were both shot at Hovs Hallar, a rocky, precipitous beach area in north-western Scania. [19]

In the Magic Lantern autobiography Bergman writes of the film's iconic penultimate shot: "The image of the Dance of Death beneath the dark cloud was achieved at hectic speed because most of the actors had finished for the day. Assistants, electricians, and a make-up man and about two summer visitors, who never knew what it was all about, had to dress up in the costumes of those condemned to death. A camera with no sound was set up and the picture shot before the cloud dissolved." [20]

Portrait of the Middle Ages

With regard to the relevancy of historical accuracy to a film that is heavily metaphorical and allegorical, John Aberth, writing in A Knight at the Movies, holds

the film only partially succeeds in conveying the period atmosphere and thought world of the fourteenth century. Bergman would probably counter that it was never his intention to make an historical or period film. As it was written in a program note that accompanied the movie's premier "It is a modern poem presented with medieval material that has been very freely handled...The script in particular—embodies a mid-twentieth century existentialist angst....Still, to be fair to Bergman, one must allow him his artistic license, and the script's modernisms may be justified as giving the movie's medieval theme a compelling and urgent contemporary relevance...Yet the film succeeds to a large degree because it is set in the Middle Ages, a time that can seem both very remote and very immediate to us living in the modern world....Ultimately The Seventh Seal should be judged as a historical film by how well it combines the medieval and the modern." [21]

Death playing chess, from Taby Church, fresco by Albertus Pictor Taby kyrka Death playing chess.jpg
Death playing chess, from Täby Church, fresco by Albertus Pictor

Similarly defending it as an allegory, Aleksander Kwiatkowski in the book Swedish Film Classics, writes

The international response to the film which among other awards won the jury's special prize at Cannes in 1957 reconfirmed the author's high rank and proved that The Seventh Seal regardless of its degree of accuracy in reproducing medieval scenery may be considered as a universal, timeless allegory. [22]

Much of the film's imagery is derived from medieval art. For example, Bergman has stated that the image of a man playing chess with a skeletal Death was inspired by a medieval church painting from the 1480s in Täby kyrka, Täby, north of Stockholm, painted by Albertus Pictor. [23]

However, the medieval Sweden portrayed in this movie includes creative anachronisms. The flagellant movement was foreign to Sweden, and large-scale witch persecutions only began in the 15th century. [24]

Generally speaking, historians Johan Huizinga, Friedrich Heer and Barbara Tuchman have all argued that the late Middle Ages of the 14th century was a period of "doom and gloom" similar to what is reflected in this film, characterized by a feeling of pessimism, an increase in a penitential style of piety that was slightly masochistic, all aggravated by various disasters such as the Black Plague, famine, the Hundred Years' War between France and England, and papal schism. [25] This is sometimes called the crisis of the Late Middle Ages and Barbara Tuchman regards the 14th century as "a distant mirror" of the 20th century in a way that echoes Bergman's sensibilities. Nonetheless, the main period of the Crusades is well before this era; they took place in a more optimistic period. [25]

Major themes

The title refers to a passage about the end of the world from the Book of Revelation, used both at the very start of the film, and again towards the end, beginning with the words "And when the Lamb had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour" (Revelation 8:1). Thus, in the confessional scene the knight states: "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?" [26] Death, impersonating the confessional priest, refuses to reply. Similarly, later, as he eats the strawberries with the family of actors, Antonius Block says: "Faith is a torment – did you know that? It is like loving someone who is out there in the darkness but never appears, no matter how loudly you call." [9] Bragg notes that the concept of the "Silence of God" in the face of evil, or the pleas of believers or would-be-believers, may be influenced by the punishments of silence meted out by Bergman's father, a chaplain in the State Lutheran Church. [27] In Bergman's original radio play sometimes translated as A Painting on Wood, the figure of Death in a Dance of Death is represented not by an actor, but by silence, "mere nothingness, mere absence...terrifying...the void." [28]

Some of the powerful influences on the film were Picasso's picture of the two acrobats, Carl Orff's Carmina Burana , Strindberg's dramas Folkungasagan ("The Saga of the Folkung Kings") and The Road to Damascus , [29] the frescoes at Härkeberga church and a painting by Albertus Pictor in Täby church. [30] Just prior to shooting Bergman directed for radio the play Everyman by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. [30] By this time he had also directed plays by Shakespeare, Strindberg, Camus, Chesterton, Anouilh, Tennessee Williams, Pirandello, Lehár, Molière and Ostrovsky. [31] The actors Bibi Andersson (with whom Bergman was in a relationship 1955–59) who played the juggler's wife Mia, and Max von Sydow, whose role as the knight was the first of many star parts he would bring to Bergman's films and whose rugged Nordic dignity became a vital resource within Bergman's "troupe" of key actors, [32] both made a strong impact on the mood and style of the film.

Bergman grew up in a home infused with an intense Christianity, his father being a charismatic rector (this may have explained Bergman's adolescent infatuation with Hitler, which later deeply tormented him). [33] As a six-year-old child, Bergman used to help the gardener carry corpses from the Royal Hospital Sophiahemmet (where his father was chaplain) to the mortuary. [34] When, as a boy, he saw the film Black Beauty , the fire scene excited him so much he stayed in bed for three days with a temperature. [34] Despite living a Bohemian lifestyle in partial rebellion against his upbringing, Bergman often signed his scripts with the initials "S.D.G" (Soli Deo Gloria) — "To God Alone the Glory" — just as J. S. Bach did at the end of every musical composition. [35]

Gerald Mast writes,

"Like the gravedigger in Hamlet , the Squire [...] treats death as a bitter and hopeless joke. Since we all play chess with death, and since we all must suffer through that hopeless joke, the only question about the game is how long it will last and how well we will play it. To play it well, to live, is to love and not to hate the body and the mortal as the Church urges in Bergman's metaphor." [36]

Melvyn Bragg writes,

"[I]t is constructed like an argument. It is a story told as a sermon might be delivered: an allegory...each scene is at once so simple and so charged and layered that it catches us again and again...Somehow all of Bergman's own past, that of his father, that of his reading and doing and seeing, that of his Swedish culture, of his political burning and religious melancholy, poured into a series of pictures which carry that swell of contributions and contradictions so effortlessly that you could tell the story to a child, publish it as a storybook of photographs and yet know that the deepest questions of religion and the most mysterious revelation of simply being alive are both addressed." [37]

The Jesuit publication America identifies it as having begun "a series of seven films that explored the possibility of faith in a post-Holocaust, nuclear age". [38] Likewise, film historians Thomas W. Bohn and Richard L. Stromgren identify this film as beginning "his cycle of films dealing with the conundrum of religious faith". [39]


Upon its original Swedish release, The Seventh Seal was met with a somewhat divided critical response; its cinematography was widely praised, while "Bergman the scriptwriter [was] lambasted." [40] Swedish journalist and critic Nils Beyer, writing for Morgon-tidningen , compared it to Carl Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc and Day of Wrath . While finding Dreyer's films to be superior, he still noted that "it isn't just any director that you feel like comparing to the old Danish master." He also praised the usage of the cast, in particular Max von Sydow whose character he described as "a pale, serious Don Quixote character with a face as if sculpted in wood", and "Bibi Andersson, who appears as if painted in faded watercolours but still can emit small delicious glimpses of female warmth." Hanserik Hjertén for Arbetaren started his review by praising the cinematography but soon went on to describe the film as "a horror film for children" and said that beyond the superficial, it is mostly reminiscent of Bergman's "sophomoric films from the 40s." [13]

Bergman's international reputation, on the other hand, was largely cemented by The Seventh Seal. [40] Bosley Crowther had only positive things to say in his 1958 review for The New York Times , and praised how the themes were elevated by the cinematography and acting: "the profundities of the ideas are lightened and made flexible by glowing pictorial presentation of action that is interesting and strong. Mr. Bergman uses his camera and actors for sharp, realistic effects." [41]

The film is now regarded as a masterpiece of cinema. [42] Empire magazine ranked it the eighth-greatest film of world cinema in 2010. [43] In a poll held by the same magazine, it was voted 335th 'Greatest Movie of All Time' from a list of 500. [44] In addition, on the 100th anniversary of cinema in 1995, the Vatican included The Seventh Seal in its list of its 45 "great films" for its thematic values. [45]

The film was selected as the Swedish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 30th Academy Awards, but was not nominated.[ citation needed ]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 93% based on 54 reviews, with an average rating of 9.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "Narratively bold and visually striking, The Seventh Seal brought Ingmar Bergman to the world stage — and remains every bit as compelling today". [46]


The Seventh Seal significantly helped Bergman in gaining his position as a world-class director. When the film won the Special Jury Prize at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival, [47] the attention generated by it (along with the previous year's Smiles of a Summer Night ) made Bergman and his stars Max von Sydow and Bibi Andersson well known to the European film community, and the critics and readers of Cahiers du Cinéma , among others, discovered him with this movie. Within five years of this, he had established himself as the first real auteur of Swedish cinema. With its images and reflections upon death and the meaning of life, The Seventh Seal had a symbolism that was "immediately apprehensible to people trained in literary culture who were just beginning to discover the 'art' of film, and it quickly became a staple of high school and college literature courses... Unlike Hollywood 'movies,' The Seventh Seal clearly was aware of elite artistic culture and thus was readily appreciated by intellectual audiences." [48]

Film and television

Bengt Ekerot as Death DeathSeventhSeal.png
Bengt Ekerot as Death

The representation of Death as a white-faced man who wears a dark cape and plays chess with mortals has been a popular object of parody in other films and television.

Several films and comedy sketches portray Death as playing games other than or in addition to chess. In the final scene of the 1968 film De Düva (mock Swedish for "The Dove"), a 15-minute pastiche of Bergman's work generally and his Wild Strawberries in particular, the protagonist plays badminton against Death and wins when the droppings of a passing dove strike Death in the eye. Death's costume is also soiled, to his annoyance as he said it was just dry cleaned. The photography imitates throughout the style of Bergman's cinematographers Sven Nykqvist and Gunnar Fischer. [49]

The protagonists of the 1991 science-fiction comedy Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey return to life by defeating Death (played by William Sadler) at Battleship, Clue, electric football, and Twister. After each of the first three games, Death insists that the competition be extended to a "best-of-three," "-five," and then "-seven" series, but after being beaten in four games he concedes defeat.

In Last Action Hero , Death (played by Ian McKellen) emerges from the film of the same name (The Seventh Seal).

In Monty Python and the Holy Grail the flagellant scene is depicted by monks smacking themselves in the head while reciting lines from the Dies Irae. In Monty Python's Meaning of Life Death appears at a dinner party in much the same guise. A few minutes later, in a parody of the "Dance of Death", we see the partygoers following Death through space.

In a 1970s Dave Allen comedy sketch, the comedian (playing the role of the knight) is doing a monologue contemplating suicide. Whilst doing this, Death (in a series of stop-motion scenes) approaches the knight from behind. When the knight decides to commit suicide, Death is standing right behind him, but when he draws out his sword, its handle accidentally hits Death in the balls causing Death to bend over in pain. This causes the knight to change his mind about killing himself, he resheaths his sword and calmly walks away leaving Death still in its agony. [50]

In the animated feature Animalympics , the film is alluded to as the newest cinematic project of actor and sports commentator Bjorn Freeborg, with one "Ingmar Birdman" (a nominal parody of the film's director) directing. This sequence utilizes the reproduction of a screenshot of the famous chess-play scene, with Freeborg playing the role of Death.

Woody Allen's one-act play entitled Death Knocks, part of his anthology Getting Even, depicts a man playing gin rummy against Death. Allen, an enormous fan of Ingmar Bergman, [51] references Bergman's work in his serious dramas as well as his comedies; [52] his Love and Death , a broad parody of 19th-century Russian novels, closes with a "Dance of Death" scene imitating Bergman's.

The film is also seen in the Håkan Bråkan, the 2003 SVT Christmas calendar series, based on works by Anders Jacobsson and Sören Olssons, where Håkan watches the movie [53] — even an animated version appears.

The song "The Seventh Seal" on Scott Walker's 1969 album Scott 4 is based on the film.[ citation needed ]

The film is referred to in Bruce Cockburn's song "How I Spent My Fall Vacation", from his 1979 album Humans . The song's narrative is bracketed by two young men watching the film in a cinema. [54]

On Dance of Death (2003), the thirteenth studio album by British heavy metal band Iron Maiden, the album's title track was inspired by the final scene of The Seventh Seal, at the end of which, according to guitarist Janick Gers, "these figures on the horizon start doing a little jig, which is the dance of death.". [55]


In 2016 composer João MacDowell premiered in New York City at Scandinavia House the music for the first act of "The Seventh Seal" a work in progress under contract with the Ingmar Bergman Foundation, sung in Swedish. The work is under production by the International Brazilian Opera (IBOC) as part of the celebrations for the Ingmar Bergman centenary in 2018. [56] [57] [58] [59]

The posters for the opera with photography by Athena Azevedo and design by Toshiaki Ide and Hisa Ide, featuring dancer Eliana Carneiro, in a collaboration work by the International Brazilian Opera (IBOC) and IF Studio LLC, have won multiple prizes in the Graphis Inc. International Competition, including double Platinum in the Poster and Design categories. [60] [61]

See also

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Nils Bengt Folke Ekerot was a Swedish actor and director.

<i>The Best Intentions</i> 1992 film by Bille August

The Best Intentions is a 1992 Swedish drama film directed by Bille August and written by Ingmar Bergman. It is semi-autobiographical, telling the story of the complex relationship between Bergman's parents, Erik Bergman and Karin Åkerblom, who are renamed Henrik and Anna in the film but retain their true surnames. The film documents the courtship and the difficult early years of their marriage, until the point when Anna becomes pregnant with their second son, who corresponds to Ingmar himself. Samuel Fröler and Pernilla August played Henrik and Anna, respectively.

Hovs Hallar

Hovs Hallar is a nature reserve on the northern tip of the Bjäre Peninsula in the county of Skåne, Sweden. It is located approximately 7 km northeast of the coastal town of Torekov. The reserve is an area of geological interest and its impressive cliff faces are home to a variety of seabirds. It is assumed that the area gave the name of the province Halland, meaning "the land beyond Hovs Hallar".

<i>Summer Interlude</i> 1951 film by Ingmar Bergman

Summer Interlude, originally titled Illicit Interlude in the United States, is a 1951 Swedish drama film co-written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. The film opened to highly positive reviews from critics.

Albertus Pictor painter

Albertus Pictor, also called Albert Pictor, Albert Målare and Albrekt Pärlstickare (Swedish), is the most famous late medieval Swedish painter, known for his wallpaintings surviving in numerous churches in southern and central Sweden. Celebrations for the quincentenary of his death were arranged for 2009.

The Dove is a 1968 Oscar-nominated American short film that humorously parodies the films of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. The film borrows heavily from the plot lines of some of Bergman's most famous films made. There is a journey by car back to the location of childhood memories as in Wild Strawberries. The main characters meet with the shrouded figure of Death as in The Seventh Seal. The film was directed by George Coe and Anthony Lover. Madeline Kahn made her first film appearance, in a supporting role. The dialogue and voice-over narration are spoken mostly in a heavily accented fictional language, which is mostly English made to sound like Swedish, with many of the nouns ending in "ska". There are also a smattering of Yiddish words. The subtitles, which often do not literally match the dialogue, add to the humor.

Else Marie Fisher-Bergman, born in Melbourne, Australia, was a Swedish choreographer, dancer, theatre director, and writer.

Gunnar Fischer cinematographer

Gunnar Fischer was a Swedish cinematographer who worked with director Ingmar Bergman on several of the director's best-known films, including Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) and The Seventh Seal (1957). In addition to his career as cinematographer, Gunnar Fischer directed short films, wrote screenplays (1933–41) and published books for children.

<i>Death playing chess</i> mural by Albertus Pictor

Death playing chess is a monumental painting in Täby Church located just outside Stockholm, Sweden. It was painted around 1480–1490, by the Swedish medieval painter Albertus Pictor.

Disease in fiction

Diseases, both real and fictional, play a significant role in fiction, with certain diseases like Huntington's disease and tuberculosis appearing in many books and films. Pandemic plagues threatening all human life, such as The Andromeda Strain, are among the many fictional diseases described in literature and film.

<i>Bergman: A Year in a Life</i>

Bergman: A Year in a Life, Swedish: Bergman - ett år, ett liv, is a 2018 Swedish-Norwegian documentary film directed by Jane Magnusson. Journeying through 1957, the year Ingmar Bergman released two of his most acclaimed features, made a TV film and directed four plays for theatre, Magnusson has amassed a wealth of archive and contemporary interviews, along with a selection of clips from his vast body of work. Film has its premiere on 71st Cannes Film Festival.


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Further reading