Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - July, 2010


"The Seventh Seal" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton



Few films have had as large a cultural impact as Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet). Disillusioned and exhausted after a decade of battling in the Crusades, a knight (Max von Sydow) encounters Death on a desolate beach and challenges him to a fateful game of chess. Much studied, imitated, even parodied, but never outdone, Bergman’s stunning allegory of man’s search for meaning was one of the benchmark foreign imports of America’s 1950s art house heyday, pushing cinema’s boundaries and ushering in a new era of moviegoing.



  • Criterion Collection
  • (1957) 2009, B/W, Rated PG, 1 Hr 36 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • Mono (Swedish with English Subtitles/ English Dub)
  • Starring: Gunnar Bjornstrand, Bengt Ekerot, Nils Poppe, Max von Sydow
  • Directed by Ingmar Bergman
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No


This movie classic attempts to answer some deep, meaningful questions about life and death, good and evil. It involves some character development and relies on the viewer to really pay attention to dialog and interaction between characters. If you do, you will be richly rewarded as the movie is quite thought provoking and satisfying. In spite of its age, it looks and sounds better than ever. Another wonderful restoration by the Criterion Collection and a "must own" movie experience.


Picture quality is wonderfully deep and rich for a black and white movie. Shadows are inky and the day lit scenes reveal wonderful gradients. I notice a small amount of 'pulsing" in an outdoor scene, most noticable in the sky, but it was very minor. The razor sharp picture quality showed no sign of specks or scratches. A gorgeous B/W transfer from a painstakingly restored print! Though the soundtrack is mono, it is crystal clear and full. Either with sub-titles or with the English soundtrack, the story is compelling and well presented. I recommend watching the first time with the English sub-titles and the second time with the English dub. The first time allows you to experience the "original" and really concentrate on what is being said. The second viewing will free up your eyes to concentrate on the beautiful imagery. This is one of the best looking black and white features I have ever seen on Blu-ray and should not be missed by any movie lover. The scenes with the knight playing Chess with death are both moving and engagingly portrayed. Does God exist? The knight hopes so, but his servant is convinced otherwise. Why does man exist and what becomes of us after we die? These are just some of the questions raised and explored in this fine film.


Extras include: Newly restored high-definition digital transfer with uncompressed monaural soundtrack, introduction by Ingmar Bergman, recorded in 2003, Audio commentary by Bergman expert Peter Cowie, a new afterword to the commentary by Cowie , Bergman Island (2006), an 83-minute documentary on Bergman by Marie Nyreröd, featuring in-depth and revealing interviews with the director, archival audio interview with Max von Sydow, and a 1998 tribute to Bergman by filmmaker Woody Allen.