It was with sadness that I read about Ingmar Bergman’s death. The Seventh Seal is one of my all time favorite movies. The symbolism is rich as he attempts to figure out the meaning of life in the midst of tragedy. A knight returning from the crusades comes home to Sweden to find his country ravaged by the Black Plague. Stopping along the coast, he meets Death and tries to buy some time with a chess match as he continues his search. The knight is desperate to find meaning to life. He goes into a church, wanting to confess, but finds his heart cold. On another occasion, he asks to speak to a condemned witch, figuring if she can introduce him to the Devil, he’ll be able to ask about God. The condemned woman tells him to look into her eyes, for her accusers have testified that they’ve seen the Devil in them. He does, but replies, “I only see terror, nothing else.” Throughout the film, representatives of Mary and Joseph and a child are seen, first as troubadours. Toward the end of the movie, with the Knight stalling Death with his moves on the chess board, he allows Mary and Joseph and the child escape. The Knight finally makes it home, but all are dead. This is probably not the most uplifting movie you’ll see, but one rich with symbols.
My favorite line in the movie is by Jon, the Squire, who gets drunk when the knight is in the church and tells a townsman, “Our crusade was so stupid only an idealist could have thought it up.” Certainly the Knight was an idealist; the Squire was only looking out for himself. The film came out in 1957, a good year for movies (Bridge Over the River Kwai), for classic cars (’57 Chevy and Thunderbird) and for births (Me).
Don’t say you had a shitty day unless this happened to you…
I went out of town today for the funeral of the wife of a colleague. Coming back on the freeway (this tells you how far out of town I had to go for the county I live in doesn’t have a single mile of interstate), I got in a traffic jam due to an accident. They kept stopping traffic as they brought in dirt and tried to clean the road, sending us all to one side. When I passed the accident site, I was wondering if the asphalt had burned in the accident or if an asphalt truck had dropped part of its load for there was black stuff across the road. Then, as I got to the spot, the stench became unbearable. And on the side was a totally mashed up car and a truck hauling manure sludge. I thought being hit by a bus after a dentist appointment was bad, but that driver truly experienced a shitty day.