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Review Wanted: Criterion "Seventh Seal"

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Review Wanted: Criterion "Seventh Seal"

Old 09-25-00, 10:03 PM
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I saw this film many years ago as a film student and found it interesting but painfully slow-moving and dull. In general, I'm not a big fan of symbol-laden, surrealistic films. As such, I would not normally run out to buy "Seventh Seal", but I have found my appreciation for and understanding of some classic films (e.g., "Passion of Joan of Arc") considerably enhanced by the Criterion "treatment" -- in particular, the commentaries.

So my question is: is "Seventh Seal" on of those films? I realize it's a "masterpiece" and so on, but I'm really interested in knowing whether I'm likely to enjoy it much more than I once did based on the Criterion treatment.
Old 09-26-00, 03:32 AM
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I think a film should speak for itself...if you did not like the seventh seal when you saw it as a film by itself I really don't think it will be any less dull and slow moving just because it is a criterion release. I personally loved this film when I saw it (i got the criterion) but i liked it because i do enjoy symbol laden cinema not because it's a criterion. However, that being said, the dvd does have a commentary and bergman filmography neither of which I've had the time to watch

Hope this helps some,

Look what you've done to me!
Old 09-26-00, 01:01 PM
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I have not seen the movie, but my personal opinion on movies that feature a prominent use of symbolism is that sometimes people don't like these movies because they don't understand them. Not everyone can just watch a movie and find the meanings in them, especially on their first viewing thus making the viewer feel uninformed and perhaps, for lack of a better term, unintelligent. If a commentary can explain it a little then maybe that will not only increase the understanding and enjoyment but also help the viewer learn what to expect and appreciate from other films like it. After all, many (but not all)people who do understand such features have either have taken courses on such works or have seen or read many of this type of genre. While it is true a film should stand alone, it is also true that people need a little help standing on their own. Especially after a night of drinking.

Lloyd: I'm talkin about a place where the beer flows like wine, where the women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I'm talkin about Aspen.
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Old 09-26-00, 09:04 PM
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The Seventh Seal CC is the finest example of what DVD can do for older films. The film was restored significantly in 1988, but for the DVD release it was restored even more. One look at the restoration demonstration and any viewer will see how a very dirty and frayed film from 1954(?) looks sparkling today, perhaps even better than in its origional release. The sound is superb as well. The only other DVD of a classic older film that has a cleaned up transfer that comes close to (and perhaps surpases) the Seventh Seal is Grand Illusion CC.

As for the film, it is indeed somber and depressing with death and diseas all around. It is mostly dialogue and doesn't have any sword fights or action to speek of. On the other hand, I would not describe this film as relying too hevily on symbolism. It is not as alagorical as any of Tarkovsky's dense, cryptic, 3 hour films. With knowledge of the bible most people will get quit a bit out of a single viewing of this brief 90 min. film. Furthurmore, the commentary by Peter Cowie is absolutely excellent. One of the only commentaries that I have listened to twice. It is far better then his commentary for Bergman's Autumn Sonata. The commentary WILL INDEED help a newcomer to Bergman understand the film better. Even if you didn't understand a lick of the film the commentary will have you understanding the minutea of Bergman's "symbolism". The illustrated Bio of Bergman is interesting and serves as an excellent introduction to the rest of Burgman's work.

I highly recomend the film to anyone with an interest in cinema as art. If your aproach to cinema is that of entertainment, you may not like the film as much. Not that there is anything wrong with film as entertainment.
Old 09-26-00, 11:50 PM
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I have the Seventh Seal DVD.
It is excelent.
I highly recommend it.
I assume youve already seen it and know what to expect.
Crit. did and excelent job.
The picture is in perfect condition.
The Swedish language has good sound.
But the English language version is terrible.
the dubbing actors voices are lame and the sound is poor.

I also have Autumn Sonata on Crit. It is as good.
Old 09-27-00, 05:00 PM
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I was gearing up to answer this but pants really sums it up for me. I've always loved this film and the dvd is outstanding. IMHO Bergman's best next to fanny and alexander (can't wait for that one on dvd).

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