Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Darkest Day

Roomate snapped my dvd.  Will update eventually.
I win!

Friday, November 20, 2009

foreshadowing to the extreme.

"its like i said, i love this film. i've seen it over 100 times" Bronco outside of Heidi II at the Alpine Theater...Is Bill SO smart he knew....he knew that I would be watching this very film over 100 times?


I've come to the end of me. There's no way out now. I just want you to remember we had a beautiful day together once.


I'm going to be done on weds. that has been decided. and i will give thanks for being done.

The Power of Positive Drinking

Got through #63-65 last night and finally passed out midway through #66 (I made it to the Joff torture scene).  I also decided that I'm never drinking again.  Or, at least never drinking straight vodka until 3AM on a thursday while trying to watch a swedish film. November...

...wearing a white tshirt.

I'm off to Boston after work today, but I refuse to give up the ghost while Cole powers ahead.  I will not go quietly into the good night.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


it's like this mountain...and there's a peak...and i can see it...and i just keep on hiking...mild jog turns into a sprint this weekend, three days off again with no serious plans...if i can hit a solid viewing sunday, monday and tuesday 6 viewings a shall be almost close i can taste it. it tastes like bacon. and it's delicious.


I'm still planning on posting up the second part to my theory that Bergman kills sins/viewpoints instead of people, but I have to work it out a bit in my head first.  I figured that I'd post up the fast that I finished #63 and #64.  I took a break and played a little pong with the roomate for an hour or so but I should still be able to get #65 in, and maybe #66, though I might not finish that tonight.  The real key will be whether I can make myself watch  T7S more than a few times while in Boston.  I have some very close friends to catch up with, but I know that if I take the whole weekend off again, this late in the game, it will seal my defeat.

An Observation

I did pick up on something while watching last night, and I thought I'd mention it.  On the commentary track Peter Cowie opines that Bergman often portrays the most simple-minded characters as being the most spiritually innocent.  This of course is how we see Joff, Mia and Michael in T7S, and why they are the only ones to escape Death's clutches.  Sure, I'll play along with that.  However, two sticking points in this theory are Plogg the blacksmith, who is about as simple-minded as you can get, and Mia, who has a very deep, spiritually-enlighten conversation with Antonius Block.  According to Cowie's assertion Plogg should have survived and Mia should have died.  Why didn't Bergman have things fall out that way?  Did he shy away from killing Mia because he couldn't figure out a way to remove her and retain Joff and Michael?

I offer an alternate theory, though one that raises a few more questions.  Perhaps Bergman was killing sins instead of people; charicatures instead of characters.  Raval of course is as base and degenerate as they come, so his death makes "sense".  The witch, though not actually affiliated with Satan, has deluded herself into believing in her own corruption.  Plogg is a man controlled by rage and drunkedness, and his wife Lisa is of course a slattern.  That leaves MG, Block, Jons and Karin, and Block and Jons are both admitted Atheists (though Block desperately wants to have faith).  There is an even more intriguing explanation for MG and Karin, as in the final scene when Death is shown leading his charges in a dancing line off to the netherworld...MG and Karin are not present.

Now I did a little research, and it turns out that none of the original actors actually took part in that final scene; extras were used as the headline cast was off the set, but Cowie himself even comments that Karin and the MG aren't present, and has no explanation for their absense.

The one flaw in this overlay is Joff.  The simpleton who is almost annoying cheerfull throughout the film commits the crime of theft as he flees from Raval in the inn.  True, the bracelet that he takes was already stolen property, but if sins are punished by death in T7S he rightfully should have died as well.

I have a theory on that too, one that I'll go into later, but here's a clue:
"The Angel of Death flies overhead, and he is very large!"

Another 4 spot

#59-62 last night, and I started #63 this morning at 6AM.  I only got about half an hour in (to the church confessional scene) before I desperately needed more sleep, but it's a start.  I'm holding the carrot in front of my face that if I can maintain the 4x daily pace i'll now be done in 10 days.  This can happen.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


If I hear/read Larry uselessly use the phrase "prima donnas" one more time!!!!
Why? Why this phrase, was it a popular catch phrase? does it relate to anything else? it's said so many times in the first 40 minutes and then they realize it's not funny and never use it again.
Also Phil should have fixed that damned pot hole he kept falling into...selfish b******.

and breathe one two, almost at the end....



Burned at 65

I'm not liking how at times my life and attitude mimics that of is driving me to the point of kidnapping a groundhog and going for a joy ride...without the leap off a cliff of course. Mindlessly watching 65 and 66, it's the best escape from a stressful world.
Mainly right now I keep thinking about how much fun it would be to have a pickup and a groundhog. best day ever.

The Fever

Or should I say "the plague"?  I've been thinking about T7S all day; about watching it, about reading about it, about drinking games that could be played with it, everything.  I think the 4xdaily watching is starting to feel natural.  I'm actually looking forward to a weekend mostly off in dismay even though I'm visiting friends and playing wiffleball.  I'm rolling around the idea of finishing in 11 days by watching 4x a day in my head like a pearl in an oyster, savoring it's sweetness and saltiness that's so similar to sweat and tears. If I could somehow manage to watch T7S 4x a day for 9 days, and slip in an extra 6 viewings somewhere, I could finish on Thanksgiving.  Could it be done?  I don't want anything more.  If I can make myself watch it once at 6AM every morning and then 4x after work I'd only get 5 1/2 hours of sleep a night, but I could be done in 8 days.  Can a human do this?  Am I more afraid of not trying than of going for it?  I had an epiphany this afternoon, when I was reading "Kingdom Come", a book about the end of the world as told through the life of Superman, a book that quotes the same passages of Revelations that T7S does, that this challenge was never about Nicole and I fighting against each other.  It's about pushing one's limits, and finding out if we pop like overfilled balloons, or expand into new dimensions that make allow us to see the world differently.  I started this journey as a man; could I finish as a type of Kwizatz Hadderach?

I changed all of my video game characters names to "Antonius Block".  I am the crusader knight.


#55-#58 done last night, and it wasn't too-too bad.  I have to say that I'm not really noticing anything new at this point, which makes the viewings drag a bit more.  I've tried to come up with some more hidden messages and analysis but really the only thing that jars is the incredible discrepancy between the subtitles and the English dubbing.  For example, in the scene where Plogg confronts Skat and they exchange insults the subtitle has Plogg calling Skat a "dung heap" (actually he says "shit pile" in Swedish, but they changed it for the American release) and the dub has "strutting peacock".  Later the subtitle has "juggle" and the dub is "recite monologues".  I can't stand it at this point.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Worrywarts and 63

It has nothing to do with beating Nils...honestly it has everything to do with wanting to finish. I respect Nils, and I have this feeling he will win. With my work schedule being the way it is it's impossible for me to watch during the work week...and so Nils is being an Apprehensive Andy...he has his family on his side, they're all willing to watch T7S over family would rather boot me to the street than watch GHD with me...he has the holiday advantage. My goal is to hit 70 by sunday...this needs to end.
I feel like Phil, first not understanding what's going on, then abusing the power of the situation and finally learning what it is that I must do to win and to end this...


Whew, okay.  Cole's really been making a push in the last week and i'm starting to get a bit worried.  I know that there's no way I'd ever do this challenge again with anyone, so it's eminently crucial that I win this.  I thought that if I did 4 viewings per day until the weekend I'd be able to catch up but that's just not cutting it with Cole having today off of work.  I'm going to brainstorm some strategies, but if anyone else has a suggestion post it in the's time to get serious before it's too late.

#54 Down

And it was brutal...Just after the attempted rape scene I had to relocate back to my bedroom because I was in danger of falling asleep in the lobby.  I was actually talking to Cole and said I was going to europe when I meant to say "work".  I set my alarm for 6 to try and get one in before work this morning but I slept through it and was 5min late.  Nothing to do but power through and go for another 4 viewings tonight to try and catch up though.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Puxatawney Purgatory

French makes everything seem more philosophical. So here's my idea...Phil died in a car accident on the way back to Pittsburgh and he is now stuck in purgatory, it's mediocre at best, it could be worse, it could be better. And only when he realizes his sins, and can amend for them will he be allowed into the glorious gates of heaven.
I often thought of purgatory being a dusty beige waiting room with supremely outdated subscriptions...and maybe it's simply my own state of mind, but yes, we're in purgatory.

#53 down

On to #54, because yes, Cole has informed me that she's going for #58.

Le Ned Ryerson

Watching GHD with various musical soundtracks, and french subtitles....there's no translation for BING!

Dental Records

Rita's teeth are yellow and it bothers me, she should get them bleached and should lay off red wine, coffee and cigarettes.
That post was like a PSA

Flaw in the Death Theory

So I just watched the strawberries and milk scene again and Joff does take a sip of milk after Block, which means that there's no way that Block or Jons could be the original carriers of the plague that eventually dooms the party at the end.  This does reaffirm my third hypothesis of Skat and Raval being original independant carriers though.

Midseason Polling Results

Okay, so the 10 day poll is finished, and the results came out as such:

2 voted that they thought I would reach 100 first
6 voted that they thought Nicole would reach 100 first
2 votes that they thought neither of us would reach 100 viewings

I'm going to take down the old poll and try and get a new one up every 10 days, so keep your eyes open and make sure to vote!

Another quote!

"Oh, they'll look...a grinning skull is more captivating than a naked woman." - The Painter in the Church

Midseason Awards!

Okay, so I'm finishing up #52 as I'm working on this, and since I liked Cole's recap so much I'm going to steal it for mine (imitation being the sincerest form of flattery).  Here are my quick hits after viewing #50:

Best line #1: "I am unknowing" - Death

Best scene #1: The witch making her unearthly moan as she's splattered with the blood and bile of a dog.

Best costume #1: Skat with his cloth bells over split tights and rooster-themed cap.

Best line #2 "If everything is imperfect in this imperfect world, then love is most perfect in it's perfect imperfection." - Jons

Best scene #2: Joff manages to pretend to eat a chicken leg and yet doesn't actually take a single piece of chicken into his mouth.  Seriously, watch it.  He takes about 6 "bites" that don't remove any chicken, and then licks his fingers.  It's like watching someone without teeth try and eat corn on the cob.

Best action sequence: Jons slamming Raval down to the table and nearly slitting his throat, but holding back at the last second.

Worst action sequence: Joff's "bear dance".

Best cameo: The squirrel who pops up onto the stump of Skat's tree after it was cut down.  It wasn't staged at all, which means that the squirrel ran onto a movie set directly towards a tree that was falling.

Best makeup: Bengt Ekarot as Death.  They actually used enough white makeup that he didn't have full use of his face, which kept it frozen in a terrible unflinching mask.

Best speech: Still Anders Eck's.  Really, the movie makes itself in that scene alone.  Watch it.

Best line #3: "This is my hand.  The veins pump blood through it.  The sun is still in the sky.  And I, I Antonius Block, am playing chess with Death." - Antonius Block

Best use of music: The first appearance of Death.  Bergman introduces Block and Jons buffetted by blasting sea breeze and surrounded by crashing waves, then immediately fades them down to a whisper as Death is suddenly standing a few feet away.  It's such a drastic and gut-wrenching jolt into silence that it's almost as if the natural world itself holds its' breath in fear and respect for the grim messenger.

Best line #4: "Your life, oh fool, hangs by a thread...short is your day." - Skat, acting as Death

I officially love this movie.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

In summary of the big 50

I'm still amazed how fast this competition has gone. i thought it would take a year, and it would really drag...
I remembered the fears and giddy excitement Nils and I shared before pressing play for the first time; remembering the first 10 views thinking, this is painful, this is horrible, i want to never see this movie again. Then focusing more on the routine, feeling odd in the absence of the familiar characters, songs, themes. With such a hectic job and crazy hours, there was something comforting in his daily routine. And before I knew it, I was at 50.
Yes there was a struggle, Nils started to pull so far ahead and with such gusto, i was afraid that my work schedule would never allow me to get ahead, but with some kindness of a friend/competitor, and some words of encouragement, I caught up and here we are tied again. It's not determination keeping me from finishing first, it's free hours in the day.
I've enjoyed people's reactions to this epic battle, some, most, all think it's a giant waste of time...but all, most, some are seriously envious of the saga.

Cheers to Nils, a formidable opponent, he is dealing with a serious film, and I admire his analysis. He has been more generous than necessary, perhaps. I admire his determination, he just pushes me to go further, to finish, to say that yes, I am the one person in this world who has seen this movie 100 times. To be that person to say "don't throw that phrase around lightly kid...100 times is not easy, could you really, seriously watch one movie, one hundred times and it's not pretty"

My hats off to you Nils for getting to 50, first, let the battle/race/bout continue!!!!!!

Holy Shit foreshadowing?!
I just realized he says "Someday someone is going to see me interviewing a groundhog and think i don't have a future" don't have a future, get it?!

The Big 50 Most, Least,

Least favorite character:
the wimpy psychiatrist he's not funny.
Favorite character:
Bill Murray...the man can act. Imagine if they had gone with Tom Hanks as originally planned? Grand failure.
Favorite Scene:
Bill Murray shoving that cake in his mouth in one foul swoop, I'm dying to try that!
Favorite Line:
Wanna throw up here or in the car
I think, both
Least Favorite Line:
Ever had deja vu?
I could check with the kitchen
Other favorite line:
You say this is your first lesson?
Yes, but my father was a piano mover
Other Other favorite line:
Larry, quit staring, these are excellent.
Other favorite scene:
Bronco and the french maid
Most painful
Her speech on the perfect man...loooord
Most romantic
when they're playing cards on the bed, this seems to be the most sincere of all the attractions

just like a swedish winter get him where the sun don't shine

that's a direct quote from my friend in Chicago, yet another vote of support.
"hot water"
"no there wouldn't be any today"
what does that even mean? seriously? this line doesn't make sense, it's a B&B, they have power, they aren't using a well, it's not the 1920s.
Also why is he sharing a bathroom, he's a celebrity, in an emergency?
Also I disapprove of his piano teachers cowboy boots (this is prior to her being a piano teacher and her being the woman in the street that says "We're going to Gobbler's Knob"
Oh Ned...You are...You have...the most fantastic run.
Speaking of repetition of characters you can see the waiter who Phil outs, dancing like a broadway showstopper on the kiosk.
More to come...super excited for the 50 best of, I'm on 49 now...50 is next and it's going to be the best viewing ever.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I got to #50 last night, and in the process watched both #49 and #50 in full-on Swedish with no subtitles.  I picked up a couple of more phrases, but I won't share them because I probably have the spelling HORRIBLY wrong.  I'll spend the weekend in deep meditation and post up my midseason report likely sometime on monday!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Shout out

Realizing there isn't much time in the who do you think will win vote...I'd like to give a shout out to all my fans who have voted for me, and supported me on this journey. I couldn't be where I am without you....this would probably be more poignant if i was in the lead...however i'll do a victory dance regardless. The people, they like me.

GHD therapy

15 hour day on my feet...lots of chaos...I come home and eat cold chicken noodle soup (i wouldn't recommend it) and watch GHD which warmed my soul, the familiar sounds, and faces...the jokes, the songs, and was so comforting.
I'm scared.
As well I should be.
Hoping to hit 50 by sunday. I'll only be able to get one viewing in a day until sunday where I can get, doing the math quickly in my head...yes it is possible.
I plan on my own favorite 50 for the blog as well, highlights and lowlights, favorites and least favorites.

you should probably be looking forward to this...I am.

Push to midseason

I got to #48 yesterday as I wanted, but was prevented from getting to that all-important halfway mark due to my friend Katie's birthday party.  Fun time, lots of cuties, and luck willing I should still be able to get 2-3 watches in tonight to get the ball rolling passed #50.  I'm planning on doing some special posts to commemorate the event (first half MVPs, best watches, etc) so hopefully I'll be able to get to those this weekend while I take 3 whole days off from watching T7S.  I'd like to be more than 4 up on Cole going into my little "vacation" but I think that we're both still too far away from 100 to make a serious push for it yet.  I'm planning on doing that around #80 or so, and that's still a few weeks away.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pay for this?!

I am paying for this. I'm paying dearly for least you have the lead...

#47 Down

Just like last time, I was in error when I thought I was hungover.  I was drunk...and NOW I'm hungover.  Cole, you shall pay for this...

#46 Down

Here comes #47.  Definitely still hungover to the point that people who pass through the lobby are doing double-takes at me as they pass.  At least I overrode my first inclination and changed into real clothes from my pajamas before coming down.


Watched T7S 4 times last night while drinking heavily with Cole, once this morning while being incredibly hung over with Cole.  One was better than the other.

I found a few errors in the movie too:

1) When Death cuts down the tree to kill Jonas Skat, he uses a handsaw and cuts from the right side.  The tree when it falls does so to Death's left, which is impossible.  If you cut a tree on it's right side it will always fall to it's right, unless it was cockeyed to start with, or someone is pulling it.  You also can't cut a tree that size with a hand saw the way that Death does (namely, a straight horizontal cut).  You have to cut at an angle otherwise the saw blade will bind and prevent you from finishing the cut.

2) When Jons helps to push the witch's cart out of the mud, you can clearly see a woman in a white dress walking in the background.  Those particular scenes were filmed in the back lot of the studio in Sweden, so the woman was likely just walking down the street and had no idea that she'd be in a Bergman movie.

Okay, I'm starting 46 right now.  I'm pushing for 50 watches by the end of the day, and then a few more tomorrow night before I take the weekend off.  Oh, and happy Veteran's Day!


My head hurts. I blame drinking games. and Andie MacDowell.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Starting to Fade

Yeah, I just, in sucession, thought my phone rang when it didn't, thought someone sent me an instant message when they didn't (I wrote them a message to which they responded "dude...we haven't talked in MONTHS and you tell me 'the movie's going well thanks'?"), got hungry to the point that I almost ordered a pizza, and then so tired I almost blacked out for a second.  This happened between 10:15 and 10:32PM.

I'm starting to get excited.


What was the artist trying to do?
Bergman here was trying to show how the fear of death is actually more destructive than Death.

How well did he do it?

He does it quite well, but having very different characters respond to the fear of dying (Skat becomes sniveling, the townspeople fluctuate from terror to sadism, Block see-saws from self-doubt to salvation and back again, etc) in different, all destructive ways.  He also gives the family of Mia, Joff and Michael as a "control" example, a group unaffected by the fear of Death as they are too simple.

Was it worth doing?
In a historical context, definitely.  At the time of the movie's release the Cold War was gripping all of the civilized world in fear, and there's definitely a parallel with the knight Block contesting against Death in T7S.  In a contemporary sense the connection is a bit more tenuous (Cowie says that the same feelings apply to the fear of AIDS, but I really don't see the same level of fear between those two instances) but is still worthy of examination just in how it dissects the human condition, and in addition the meaning of life.

sticky buns

Does it bother anyone else how Dorris refers to the sticky buns?
Rita: These sticky buns are just heaven
Doris: Aren't they?
and as she says it she looks at Phil with such intensity and seduction, i wonder if she put something in the sticky buns, or if it's one she dropped on the floor.
Also I wonder about the bartender, I feel like he's in it too, his sideways glance, his quirky smile as if he knows.

I'm turning into Phil paranoid that everyone is in on the joke...maybe it is one big joke?

Nils and I discussed the humor of watching our films in reverse. I would watch Phil fall into a deeper and darker and more bitter place, Nils' film wouldn't fluctuate much, more full circle.

Next post, in honor of my old playwriting teacher will be dissecting the film using Goethe's three points of critique:
What was the artist trying to do?
How well did he do it?
Was it worth doing?
I challenge Nils to do the same.

record breaker

I hadn't realized that i had watched groundhog day seven times in one day. new record. the seventh seal. I am now caught up to nils, again. it's mind numbing, it's irritating, and if i hear him talk about a tiny town in western Pennsylvania again I'll probably go mad, if I haven't already.
I've gotten two votes of support from friends, not on the blog but elsewhere, truly believing in me.

#38 down

Right back into #39.

I noticed something at the end of #38 that I wanted to point out though.  In the audio commentary Peter Cowie references that there's a "Last Supper" feeling for the scene where Lisa, Plogg, Jons, Block, MG and Karin are eating breakfast before Death takes them away.  He also points out that Bergman achieves that vibe while avoiding the traditional, Da Vinci inspired setup for that occasion.  My point is that to set them up like that wouldn't have worked because the "Jesus" figure in T7S isn't Block, but instead is represented by the child Michael, and so wasn't present at the breakfast scene.

Now I've been reading this movie as a bittersweet tale, with some characters finishing in despair and some escaping Death, but this viewing of the breakfast scene really puts emphasis on the optimistic outlook.  The Last Supper of course is a harbringer of the end of Jesus's mortal life, but in Bergman's vision Jesus doesn't die.  Does this mean that he doesn't expiate the sins of the main characters?  Does it mean that salvation is still forthcoming?  Or, because Cowie later explains that Bergman was an Atheist, does is mean that there IS no salvation because there is no afterlife?  I'll have to think on it a bit more, but it was definitely a new way to watch the scene.


So Cole caught me this afternoon, which means that it's time to rev the engine back up and crush some dreams.  I'm shooting for 3 viewings tonight to get me to 40 total, and then I'll pack on a few more tomorrow before veteran's day, which I have totally off work.  The record so far for one day is 6 viewings, so I might try and equal that, and then if I can get a few in thursday night it should push me well past the 50 mark for my weekend off with my cousin.

I talked to Cole about the "taking days off" deal that's been happening recently, and we threw out the idea of not allowing leads of more than 5 viewings until one of us reaches #75.  It's attractive because Cole was pretty close to dropping out once I'd gotten ahead 37-30, but honestly I think that once we get passed #50 it'll really be rolling downhill and it'll be hard for me to stop.  Thoughts of being finished by Thanksgiving are just about shot, but it's Christmas or Bust for this cabajerro.

Kind Gentleman

I took all of Sunday off to let Cole catch up a bit.  Ironically, the first thing I could think of to do when I got some free time was watch a movie.  I watched Cube, and it was wonderful.  I also completely shaved my head, and I looked eerily like Bengt Ekarot's portrayal of Death in T&S.  I might need to get a fake tan just so I don't start scaring myself in the mirror.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

le sigh

ahh that familiar theme song...thanks to a cheerful canadian on the violence across america tour, the competition is back on...and i'm "gleefully" working on 34...and oddly i have a raging headache to boot. When this is over, I will be in a happier place. Not Punxatawny.


"Windows Media Player cannot play this DVD because there is a problem with digital copy protection between your DVD drive, decoder, and video card. Try installing an updated driver for your video card."
My computer told me this. My laptop is rejecting the movie. Technical difficulties will put the full viewing of 33 on hold....


This morning I woke in an attempt to finish 32, and in the middle I got sidetracked by an incredible desire to listen to Seu Jorge's cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity". The one I found had an attachment to bits from the film "Life Aquatic", simply by watching excerpts from a better movie I was brought to tears...well nearly. Just the idea of watching a better film filled me with such joy. I wanted to tear GHD out of my laptop and smash it to the floor.
Ironic that the film I wanted to watch instead still involved Bill Murray.
32 is done.
33 is next.

Nancy? Nancy Taylor!

On the 31st viewing I started wondering about our dear friend Nancy, Nancy Taylor. Typically floozies travel in packs. And yet each time we see her, she's totally alone. If there's an event, you'd think you would call your equally loose girlfriends to see if they would attend with you, and grab some coffee and a heavenly sticky bun.
She's alone at the cafe, she's alone at Gobbler's Knob, she's alone when she walks in front of the movie theater. Where are her friends? What is her backstory? She's obviously a lonely girl, so willing to accept a marriage proposal from a boy she rejected back in the day. Nancy, Nancy Taylor why are you alone?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

37 Down

Time for that sandwich...


Okay, so I've gone back-to-back-to-back so far today and had scotch for lunch and honestly I'm tripping a bit.  I'm at 1:10:00 on viewing #37 and Mia just said "I don't like the moon tonight" and I completely agree with her.  It's all pale and circular and intrusive. It reminds me of an episode of Clone High where JFK smokes a joint mad from raisins and thinks the moon is following him.  I think I should make a sandwich and take a nap.  Cole and I are playing drinking games tonight after Fedor kills Bret Rogers and I need to be awake for it.  We're playing a top secret game called Dicecards! that I helped invent and it's merciless against the already-drunk.

I also just read this: and it put me in the mood to try and pick a day to watch T7S 10 times.  Maybe when I get to 90 I'll take a sick day and try it?  What would happen to a person who spent 16 straight hours watching the same thing?  Would my eyes burn out?  Would I start talking in Swedish?

I also shaved my head into a mohawk last night.  I'd like to say I blame the egg rolls and not the ecstasy*, but I didn't take any ecstasy so it was probably the aforementioned scotch.

*That's a quote, I don't actually take drugs. Unless "drugs" are black and white movies from 1956 Sweden.

Just call me butter

Cause i'm on a roll?  I powered through #35 and #36 this morning before lunch and I'm starting #37 now.  I'm not sure if I'll get to #40 today but I figure that I can get close.  I feel a bit bad watching while Cole is working doubles, but again if I'm taking all of next weekend off she'll have essentially 3 days to catch up where I won't be able to watch.

work vs. contest

I may need to quit my job. doubles (18 hour days) vs. prime hours to surpass nils is just not working out for me...time to think about some serious life or trophy?

Friday, November 6, 2009

32 and 33

Definitely still hung over from last night, but I've loaded up on gatorade and powered through two viewings already tonight.  I'd like to get two more in (and I just started #34) but we'll have to see.

Day Off

After a night of 50 cent beers and drunken texts from Nicole updating me on my dwindling lead I started #32.  I made it exactly 8:42 in before passing out.  Birthday party was great so I don't regret it, but I have some serious watching to do this weekend.  I'm staying in tonight to get at least 3-4 in and I'm shooting to be close to 40 by the time Cole and I talk tomorrow night.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

drunken 30

it took some vegan cuisine, and a bottle of wine...but 28, 29 and 30 are all complete. now to pass out.

Onto 28 and beyond

Currently watching GHD for the 28th time. Will watch 29 at the dinner party, the novelty of this competition is expansive...and I'll hit 30 before bed out Nils, I'm coming after you.

new levels of madness

Today I kept telling the boys I work with "if you feel you're warming up, I'm your weatherman"...they gave me an odd look....but that's not new.
What's new is a dinner party my friends are hosting tonight, and I asked, in all seriousness...can I bring my copy of GHD? We could all watch it! It'd be fun! They could all become a member of this heroic experience.

I'm now at the point that GHD is the new hostess gift...instead of wine I bring a crappy movie from 1993.


Clark Kent Syndrome

Okay, so as I've posted before my eyes have been a little strained recently because of all of the movie watching.  Well, it just went one step further: I just had a 2 minute stretch where I couldn't focus on my computer screen at all.  Everything was super blurry, even when I squinted.  I'm fine now, but hoo boy that wasn't fun.  I'm thinking that I'll take today completely off.

No Morning Watch

I tried, I really did, but waking up in the pitch darkness of 6AM after staying up until 1 the night before is no conducive to movie-watching, especially a black and white film with a classical soundtrack.  I'm still hoping to sneak one viewing in today but it'll be a lot tougher than it would have been this AM.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

i'm not too worried about nils gaining a couple more viewings in tonight. i'm favored to win after all...nils may be one of my oldest friends, but i have learned some new tricks, the lead will soon be mine, and shall remain so.


I stealth-attacked Cole with #31.  Yup, I'm a big man.


The shower in the bed and breakfast does not have hot water on groundhog day....can we now safely assume that Bill Murray's character did not shower for 10 years, 100 years? You'd think he'd look a lot greasier...props to him for looking so fresh.

Nicole > T7S

Just found out that an 11th body was discovered in the house of the Cleveland Killer, which officially makes him a more successfull murderer than Death in The Seventh Seal, who only kills 10 people: Skat, the unnamed villager Raval robs, Raval, the witch, Jons, Block, Lisa, Plogg and MG.  Way to go Nicole, your city is more deadly than 14th century Sweden during the height of the Black Death!


Just finished #30.  I MIGHT go for #31 tonight but I really want to try the 6AM viewing at least once, and since I'm taking tomorrow night off for Derek's birthday that might be the time to do it.

Question for the readers

Does anyone know how to post pictures?  I've been sketching scenes from T7S the last few viewings and I figured that I could post them up here.


I hope you guys who voted are joking too...there's no way I'll lose to a Maine emigrant.  My winter is so much colder all I HAVE to do is watch this movie.

Oh, and I did have another observation:

When we meet Skat, Mia and Joff for the second time (right around mark 34:00) they're performing a skit where Mia dances to Joff's drumming, and then is wooed away by Skat and his pipe-playing.  Now Joff's costume gives him horns, which is a symbol for a cuckold, or a man whose wife cheats on him, and Skat's gives him the head of a rooster, or "cock", signifying virility.  The fun part is that this play neatly parallels what happens in real life just a minute or so later.  Skat, still appropriately dressed as a rooster, seduces the laviscious Lisa despite her marriage to Plogg.  If you REALLY want to read into the symbols here, you can even make the point that when Skat first kisses Lisa and she laughs the sound is drowned out by the sound effect of a rooster crowing.  So, just like Mia pretended to be overwhelmed by Skat the character's virility, Lisa is just moments later truly overcome by Skat the man's same quality.

Or, I might have just watched this movie too much already...but it's something that jumped out at me during #30 and I wanted to mention it.


Watched #29 when I got home today, and I think taking yesterday off was a bad idea.  It was BRUTAL, and i've definitely got some eye strain.  To quote Kenny Powers: "I feel like an asian guy trying to jerk off".  Well, not that bad probably, but I think I'm going to get #30 in and then call it a night.  I got a text from Nicole and she had to work a double shift at the restaurant so she was still at work around 8, and is still stuck on #26.  I can live with being 4 up going into tomorrow, though I really want to try the 6AM viewing.  I had my alarm all set this morning but when I woke up I realized that I'd left T7S in my laptop downstairs.  Yeah...I didn't *quite* make it downstairs to retrieve the dvd.

The Day Off

Honestly it was so nice.  I watched Blade Runner and it was incredible hearing different voices, seeing different colors, and enjoying a non-classical soundtrack.  It felt incredible to be watching a movie for pleasure rather than competition.  I awoke refreshed for the first time in a week and a half and I'm ready to make a charge today.  I'm thinking at least 4 watchings, though if I somehow got to 5 I could be one third done after 13 days, which would be awesome.

Nice to see Cole up posting too!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Final Decree

My brother was unable to respond in time, so we in turn went to Nils' older brother...he stated that since the rules of "lunch" were not declared from the getgo the lunch break watchings count. Congrats Nils...this only makes it one million times more impressive when I beat you.

Bing again.

Alright folks it's time i gave some thoughts to this whole crazy shingdig. I would like to note that I did not get a week off work due to illness, and though many of you would probably not care to know this, I continued cooking fine product for our patrons while violently ill with the bacon flu. I was sent home early, and got a few more viewings in than normal but would like to note that I did indeed still work a 50 hour work week. Should i truly be punished for not having the luxuries of a lunchbreak and water cooler conversation? True it was my choice to become a chef, and not to fiddle away in a cubicle with a ficus. However I feel that only the time spent outside the office is apt viewing time. I will allow all previous viewings that Nils has completed but will accept no future ones.
Onto notes of the movie and this experience as a whole...seriously.
Seriously I doubted my own abilities to join into such an experience but here we are 10 days in, and 26 viewings complete. originally I had believed to pace myself, two viewings a week would be simple, and easy, and a relaxing way to hit the one year mark. After my first GHD experience I wanted to die, the initial viewing was painful, a horrendous and repetitive film latent with bad acting and worse writing. There are some saving grace moments, but on the whole a superficial film with little to read into, and less to grab the attention of the viewer. Bill Murray though charming is not acting at his full capacity, due mostly to off screen arguments with the writer as to whether or not this film should be shown as a comedy or a philosophy, mr. murray leaning towards the latter...apparently the two have not spoken since the release of this film.
My own concept of reality has become slightly skewed. I hear the opening music in my head each morning as I start my day, as i cross E.122 i find i do the same skip, as i open the door to the kitchen it's all in the same motions. I have my own Ned that greets me every morning, though instead of a dweeb of an insurance agent it's a rotund gentlemen, always in a sweatsuit who comments on my necklace whether i'm wearing one or not...lovely. I am living my own groundhog day...with a more captivating story line. I come home from work, i watch a redundant film as I eat my dinner and as I fall asleep. Only to arise to the same hell. I live in Cleveland which has a Puxatony feel...perhaps by the end of this challenge i too will play piano and become a gifted ice sculptor, with a knack to bring cheer to all.
I promise to buy Nils his own groundhog at the completion of this challenge, so that he may live with the burden that he has bestowed upon me.

And on the 12th day, Nils rested

Just got an email from Cole and we've called a truce for tonight.  Her and Lindsay are watching GHD once, and I said I wouldn't watch it more than once.  Honestly I might take the night off completely and then catch an early show around 6 tomorrow morning.


Haven't heard back from Cole yet on the "watching at work" issue so I held off on starting #29 during lunch.  I guess that I'll have to pull 4 watches the old fashioned way tonight, though that means if I start when I get home at 5:45 I won't be finished until 12:13, and that's assuming that watch it on loop.  Maybe 3 watches would be better, and maybe I'll wake up at 6:00 tomorrow morning and get one in before I leave for work.  Again, I really need to build up a cushion if I'm going to take 4 of the next 14 days off...Cole's just devious enough to leave me in the dust if I stumble...

Point of Controversy (well, "half point")

I talked to Nicole this morning, and she raised an interesting point, though it's one that I contend is moot at this juncture.  As I stated in an earlier post I brought my laptop and copy of T7S to work and watched just under an hour of it during my lunch break.  Nicole, as she works as a chef, doesn't get a set lunch "break", and so is not afforded the same opportunity.  She contended this morning that because I could watch at work and she couldn't it was an unfair advantage, and so should be abolished.  I disagree completely, and for a few reasons:

1) There was no rule against watching at work set out at the start of the competition, though there were several others that were.  To make a rule now would be punishing a previously unrecognized advantage retroactively.
2) The "unfair" aspect doesn't really fly in my book because it has to do with things controlled by our employers, whom we selected when we chose to work at our respective jobs.  Nicole couldn't work last week because she had a head cold and works with food; I could have worked with a similar malady.  Is that fair?  Should she have to forfeit the viewings she did while sick at home because I wouldn't have been able to take those days off?  I don't think so.
3) The advantage is negligible.  I have an hour lunch break, which is barely enough to finish one half of a viewing.  It's not like I'm a night security guard at a mall who can actually watch T7S while i'm working.

But anyway, in the spirit of fairness we compromised and said that we'd appeal for a ruling to an impartial third party.  I put out the name of her brother, Paul, and await her yea/nay vote on that.

Nice Review

My friend Zack emailed me a third-party review of T7S that gives a pretty nice, basic outline of the plot.  I figured that I'd share:,34821/


Finished #27 and #28 as I planned last night, but I'm really regretting not getting #29 out also.  I'd like to hit #33 tonight but watching 5 on a week night is pretty rough.

I also double-checked and the statues are of a different style, but appear to be of the same 2 saints.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I'm not entirely sure, but I think that the statue of the old man that you see at mark 1:27:00 is the same one as the one next to Block in the church scene at the beginning.  It kind of looks like St. Francis, but I'm not sure.  I'll have to check on that later.  Finishing up #26 right now, and then I'll break for dinner and some beer pong before #27 and #28.  I'm kind of hoping Nicole gets distracted by Lindsay and forgets to watch GHD more than once, haha.  Yesterday really took a toll.


That's how far I got today in viewing #26 during my lunch break.  The scary part is that it made me feel so much better compared to how I felt when I woke up this morning.  I really, REALLY hope that i'm not developing a dependancy on this movie.  All I could think to myself while watching it was "Ahh...those soothing black and white tones are so much better than the harsh sunlight and colors outside."  The plan is to finish #26 before dinner tonight and then watch it twice more before bed.  If I average 3 viewings a day I could conceivably finish the 100 before Thanksgiving, though I was planning on taking November 5th off for my roomate's birthday and November 13-15th off for my cousin's visit from Memphis.  Still, the plan of being done by March is obviously shot, and I know if I'm to beat Nicole I'll have to be finished no later than mid-December.

I may have watched T7S too many times yesterday...

I swear to God I just saw Bengt Ekarot's Death character walk through the parking lot of the office in full costume...I'm honestly a bit scared here. I'll keep it updated, but if I start hearing things I might need to take a coffee break.


I finished #25 last night, and brought my laptop to work so I can start #26 during lunch. I got an email from Nicole too, and she finished #25 last night also with her friend Lindsay. So that's 1/4 of the way done within 10 days...and I almost thought that I saw Nils Poppe walk down a side street on my way to work this morning. He was in black and white and had his lute on his back. Maybe the cracks are starting to show? I could have sworn that I heard flute music too.

Theory about Death, Part II

Because of the problems with the "Infected Block" theory, especially the time of death aspect, I took some time analyzing the possibilities and came up with what I think it a better version. Skat, instead of Block, is now my original carrier. Take a look at the following flow chart and see if that makes a bit more sense:Skat- infects Lisa with a kiss, who- infects Plogg with a kiss, who- infects Jons by grabbing his arm in the scene where Skat "dies", then dies. Jons then- infects MG with a snuggle in the scene where they watch Raval die, and infects the witch when he gives her water. The witch then- infects Block when he gives her some drugs to dull the pain of burning alive, who then- infects Kurin when she gives him a caressSo this way Joff, Mia and Michael are safe, Skat's death is explained, and the fact that he is the first to die is also explained as he's been carrying the plague the longest. The others all catch the plague within half a day of each other and so it makes sense that they die at the same time in the end.This theory still has a few unexplained facts (why Raval dies, and why Death comes for Block first) but I think that the timing and the lack of connection between the plague and the chosen family is worth it. Ravel could have easily caught the plague when he robbed the dead, as it's shown that he does that for income. Death could also have come for Block for an reason related to his time fighting in the crusades as well. I like this theory also because it means that Block doesn't unwittingly do more hamr than good by postponing his death at the start. In this postulation Block only actually infects one person, his wife.

The last question would be how Skat originally catches the plague, and it would have had to be something that only he did, as he was travelling with Joff, Mia and Michael and they were unaffected. I was wracking my brain for hours today thinking of what it could be and then when it hit it was obvious. In the scene where the travelling players are first introduced Skat emerges from the wagon wearing a stylized mask of a skull, meant to represent...Death. So Skat, who actually "becomes" Death and reads a line from a play ("Your life, oh fool, hangs by a thread. Short is your day!") symbolically and literally brings death in the form of the plague into the movie. The Death mask gets hung on a branch off of the wagon and rests there until the end of the movie, casting a shadow over the party as they travel together. Bing!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New Theories on Death, Part I

So earlier I'd talked about how I was puzzled as to why Death at the start of the movie wants to kill only Antonius Block, but that by the end of the movie he takes everyone in Block's party, and I put out the hypothesis that perhaps Jons had caught the plague from the dead monk near the start of the movie, and subsequently passed it on to the other members of the party. There were a few flaws in the theory though, namely that if it were true the painter would have to die, it didn't account for the fact that Death comes for Block first (before he could have been infected by Jons) and that it did not account for the death of Jonas Skat as he didn't have contact with anyone "infected" before dying.

During the 22nd viewing I wondered instead if Block could possibly have been the original carrier. Suppose that he caught the plague upon his arrival to Sweden and Death comes for him because of it. Because of the reprieve caused by the chess match he's allowed enough time to touch Jons when he passes him food after the church scene, infecting him. Jons would then infect both Raval and the mute girl (whom I'll call MG from now on) by way of push and kiss respectively. Jons would then infect Plogg by way of a hug when he consoles him on the loss of his wife, Plogg would in turn infect Lisa when she kisses him, and Lisa would doom Skat when the actor pats her cheek before "killing" himself. Finally, Block himself would infect his wife Karin when he touches her hand near the end. Thus everyone that dies can be explained to have caught the plague, and the spreading traces itself back to a legitimate source in Antonius Block.

Still, though this theory explains why Death comes for Block first, it still leaves me unsatisfied. For one, it casts a very depressing pall over the entire movie because it means that Block is indirectly responsible for the deaths of all of his friends because he's too scared to accept his own Death at the beginning. There are also two fairly large problems left unreconciled. One, if Plogg were infected by Jons when they hug, he would have passed it on to Joff when he and Joff shake hands immediately after that scene. Joff survives, so that's a problem. Problem two has to do with the timing. Now it's fine to say that people die from the plague at different speeds, but in this construct Skat would have died mere seconds after catching it from Lisa, while Jons survives basically the entire film "infected". Block survives the longest, but I'm giving him a pass because he has the chess game to protect him.

23 down, and some new theories on Death

Powered through viewing #23, giving me a one-view lead while Cole has dinner at her parents' house, and I'm starting #24 as I type. I came up with a few more theories about the composition of the final group that Death takes off into the sunset and also did some digging around "Ariadne versus Kunigunda". I'll start with the latter first!

Ariadne was the daughter of King Minos of Crete, and she was the one who helped Theseus kill the fabled minotaur by navigating him through the labyrinth. She then left Crete with Theseus, but was abandoned on an island on the way home because Theseus discovered that she was already married to Dionysus, the Greek God of wine and debauchery. This actually makes quite a bit of sense in the context of T7S, as Lisa shares wine with Skat and then shares much more than that in the woods, only to be abandoned by him when her husband Plogg returns.

Kunigunda was the Queen of Bohemia in the mid to late 13th century. I found some personal information, but nothing to really indicate how Lisa may have resembled her. Maybe Lisa was just putting on airs by giving her name as that of a Queen?

I'm a little surprised that the dubbed name is the more accurate one, but at least now I know the reason why the editors might have changed the name from Kunigunda to Ariadne.

20 down

I'm starting 21 down in the apartment lobby right now, but I might need to take a break for some lunch. Nicole texted me last night that she watched #20 and #21 before going to bed, so if I can get #21 done early this afternoon I should be able to gain a lead tonight and then start putting some distance between us when she's working her overtime this week. I'm hoping to be at #30-33 at least by next weekend when I'll take at least one day off for the roommate's birthday.

Oh, and I apparently wasn't hungover this morning. I was drunk, and NOW i'm hungover. If anyone wants to deliver a cup of coffee and a powerade to the lobby of Promenade East Towers in Portland I'll promise everlasting friendship.

A thought

So Death wins the chess game at right around 1:25:00, but doesn't take Block. Putting aside the fact that according to the movie he's been trying to kill the knight since the very first scene, and should be anxious to get it over with, the only thing that happens from 1:25 until he reappears at 1:34:00 is that the group adds the knight's wife Kurin to their party. Is there a group discount on trips to the afterlife? I guess that it just doesn't make sense to me why Death would wait what's really only about an hour (I can gauge the time as being about an hour because Joff and Mia flee the campsite just before Death wins the game, and the horse that pulls their wagon couldn't have pulled it for more than an hour without stopping. They're not shown to have stopped until about the time that Block and the others reach the castle, and so it's inferred that Jof and Mia are no more than an hour away).

Then again, being killed at this point is almost a mercy to Kurin: in the last 10 years she's lost her husband, her friend Jon's wife, all of her servants, and then just when her husband returns home having aged HORRIBLY she finds that he's doomed to die. No wonder she's so polite to Death when he finally shows up.


Again with the witches' rack. I mean, really? She's not even wearing a bra, and apparently still has more support that the Livestrong campaign. I'm not even interested romantically; I just don't understand what i'm seeing.


There's a line here where Jonas Skat and Plogg are trading insults and Jons walks over to talk to Joff to say "In southern lands there are things called apes." Joff doesn't understand and says "What?" and Jons just blows him off with a "Never mind." I still can't figure out what Jons is commenting on here and it's driving me nuts. Is he comparing Plogg and Skat to apes? Is it a dig on their intelligence? I have no idea.

I still think that it's stupid that in the dubbed version they give Lisa's assumed name as Ariadne instead of Kunigunda too...there's just no point to changing it.


I'm watching the "dance like a bear!" scene and honestly, I'm not seeing it. How do bears dance? Like this apparently: And Joff? He just kind of hops from foot to foot and makes his hands into claws. I understand that he's doing this under protest, but still, take some pride in putting effort into your work.

19 Down

Watched it this morning, VERY hungover from Halloween.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Just finished my 18th viewing, bladder full to bursting and stomach so empty it feels like it's gnawing on my intestines. Time to move up to the living room for lunch and viewing #19, and then I'll be able to relax until tonight as Cole's at work all day.

New diversion for staying awake during watching T7S: Pushups and crunches. I did 200 pushups yesterday, and over 500 crunches. This challenge may kill my social life with the exception of my opponent, but at least I'll be ripped by the time I finish!

Theory about Death

First of all, 17 viewings down, and I'll hopefully be able to get at least 2 more in today to catch up to Nicole, though if she's still sick enough to miss going out tonight she'll get at least 1-2 in and pass me again. I'm starting 18 as I type, but I had an epiphany during viewing 17 about why the whole group dies at the end.

Near the beginning Block and Jons come across a corpse, and one that obviously had died from the plague. What if Jons at that point caught the plague from that corpse? Sure, Block had already been marked for Death in the opening beach scene, but Death at that point showed no interest in also collecting the squire's soul, only the knight's. So if Jons contracts the plague at minute 7 when he touches the corpse's face, he passes it along to Raval when he either a) roughs him up and prevents the rape of the mute girl or b) when he cuts him and prevents the torture of Joff. That would explain why Raval dies of the plague later (sure, he dies a bit before Jons but Raval isn't as healthy as evidenced by his obvious poor hygene, and he doesn't have the protection of Block's chess match), and also why Joff is not effected during that scene because Jons never touches Joff, only Raval. Jons could then pass along the plague to the mute girl when he shares the milk with her, Block, Joff and Mia at mark 56:00. Joff and Mia, if you watch the scene, only drink from the milk bowl before Jons does, so they wouldn't be able to get the plague from any backwash. The mute girl does drink after Jons, however, and she could have caught it then.

Jons could then pass the plague to Plogg when he gets hugged by him after their drunken heart-to-heart at mark 60:00. Plogg would then pass it to Lisa when Lisa kisses him during their reunion and the "death" of Jonas Skat. The only death that doesn't make sense in this line of thought is that of Skat himself, but if you remember that his intention is to climb up the tree to take a nap, it's easily possible that he falls out of the tree and breaks his neck, or that the tree falls over in the wind with his added weight in the upper limbs. Death's appearance in that case would be justifiable and wouldn't need a connection to the plague.

I'm not sure if this theory will hold up over more careful scrutiny, but it bothers me that Death takes all of the group at the end of the movie when at the start he was only looking to take Antonius Block.

90 min in

Kurin, Block's wife, is reading from the Book of Revelations, the same passage that started the movie and details the ending of the world. I actually read a great book called Kingdom Come by Alex Ross about Superman and other DC comics heroes a few years ago and it references this passage fairly frequently, and even ties in with the last part that Kurin reads about the world-ending comet named "Wormwood". There's a secretary of defense in Kingdom Come named Wormwood, and in the book he's the one that gives the order to use nuclear weapons against rogue supers and nearly dooms the world to a holocaust. It's just a little strange to be connecting Superman to a 1957 black-and-white by way of the Book of Revelations.

So in the movie Death finally comes for Block, having won the chess game and ready to collect the souls of the crusader knight, Jons his squire, Lisa and the blacksmith Plogg, the mute girl, and finally Kurin, the knight's wife, who gets a REALLY raw deal in that she just met her husband for the first time in over 10 years and she has to die anyway. Joff and Mia have escaped however, and with their son Michael (the son "for which all things will be possible" according to Joff at the start of the movie, and an obvious Christ allegory) make their way into the sunset.

81 min in

I've got to be honest, when the mute girl runs for the water bag to give a drink to the dying Raval she really looks like my friend Leah. Like eerily similar. Like I think Leah might be a time traveler now.

If you watch the final chess moves between Block and Death there are two things to catch: 1) When Block knocks over his pieces to let Joff, Mia and Michael escape the king piece is broken. When Death sets the pieces back up the king piece is whole again, and 2) When Death does reset the pieces he puts them in different places, giving him a one-move checkmate of Block.

I guess at this point Block doesn't care that he's going to die because he's achieved his "one significant" act by saving Joff's family, but still...put up a fight at least. I mean, Death blatantly cheats.

4th creepiest exchange of the movie:

Block: And you will reveal all of your secrets to me?
Death: I have no secrets.
(camera zooms in on Death's black, lifeless eyes)
Block: So you know nothing?
(camera zooms in further, you see that Death has no white in his eyes, only blackness)
Death: I am...unknowing.

Max age check: 55, but I missed the scene where the witch is burned alive, and he's EASILY 75 there.

70 min in

Fun fact, when Death cuts down the tree that Jonas Skat is sleeping in a squirrel actually DID come and eat some of the sawdust. Another fun fact? Swedish squirrels look NOTHING like North American squirrels. They look more like skinny chipmunks with long thin tails. It's kind of strange to think about things like that when you're watching a movie this many times, but I might try and do a little research on the differences between Scandinavian and American Northeastern ground squirrels. Maybe it'll be research for the next Monty Python and the Holy Grail?

63 min in (on viewing 17)

Interesting here: in the subtitled presentation Jonas Skat thinks that Lisa's name is "Kunigunda", but in the dubbed version it's "Ariadne". I can't really figure out why they changed it. By reading Jon's lips you can easily tell that it's supposed to be Kunigunda.

So Plog confronts Jonas Skat and his cheating wife Lisa, Skat "disposes" of himself with the fake knife, and recaptures his wife. The irony of course is that Skat fakes his own death and then is immediately killed by Death as soon as the others leave. I guess it was just his time?

I finished viewing 14 back in the apartment last night, watched 15 last night, then watched 16 this morning at 8 when I woke up. I WILL catch up! Then again, on 5 hours of sleep I'm definitely hearing things. I could have sworn that my roommate talked to me in Swedish this morning.

Friday, October 30, 2009

58 min in

So I was wondering about this earlier, but basically Death and Block are playing a game of chess, and both are supposedly excellent players. We don't see how many moves each makes at the start, but it couldn't have been too many because here at the 58 min mark when they're playing again there are only a few pieces out of place. They actually only PLAY chess in one other scene in the movie, and (spoiler) Death wins in less than 3 moves in that instance.

So, is Block really bad, or are they just really really fast? Can you win a game in 6 moves? I don't know much about strategy in chess, but my games usually take at least a half an hour of solid move-making. Is Swedish chess different? Color me confused.

Also, I'm going to stop the live blog here at the hour mark because my battery is dying. I'll pick it up tomorrow morning at the same mark with (hopefully) viewing #16 or so. Cole just texted me and said she's started viewing #19, so I might have killed myself before then. Wish me luck!

52 min in

Third best exchange of T7S:

Joff: I was so angry, I roared like a lion!
Mia: Where they scared?
Joff: No, they just laughed.
Mia: Did you hit them?
Joff: I got angry...but I never got to that.

51 min in

Max age check: 45

44 min in

Fun fact, and this is true: All of the extras in the background of the scene in the inn where Joff gets tortured by Raval and forced to dance are retirees that Bergman plucked from a local senior home. Some truly awesome facial hair, but how disconcerting would that have been for these people? All super old, probably suffering from undiagnosed dementia and altzheimers, and they're plucked out of bed, dressed in medieval rags, taken to a medieval inn and served racks of ribs and beer. And then TAKEN BACK?? I'd be surprised if they even told the family members.

Gramps: I tell you, I was back in the middle ages! There was a pig on a spit, and mead, and a funny dancing man, and...
Grandkids: Of course there were. Orderly, has Gramps been taking his red pills?
Orderly: They can get a little funny with age lads. Don't you worry though, we'll take care of him.
(Grampa has "heart attack" later that day)

36min in

The second creepiest scene of T7S: During Jonas Skat's seduction by Lisa he blows in her ear and she laughs, except that the mikes didn't record the laugh, and instead they overlaid audio of a rooster crowing. That doesn't sound scary? Trust me, it is fucking terrifying. I instinctively curl into the fetal position every time I see that scene. I might watch it on mute for the next 20 times.

Oh yeah, and at 37min in Anders Eck's monk character basically insults an entire town and says that they're all going to die horrible deaths at any second. Dominus Ominus. My favorite is when he points at a pregnant woman and says "You, woman, your teeming flesh witness to your lust, will you wither and die before the sun sets tomorrow??" Fun fact! I learned a new Swedish word. Apparently "DAMNDA" means "damned". Tell your friends!

30 min in

I never want to meet Jons (played by Gunnar Bjornstrand) in a dark anything, let alone a dark house like the one he confronts the attempted rapist Raval in. He must be dead now, so yeah a corpse anywhere is gross, but the man is a HOUSE. He's at least six inches to a foot taller than Raval, and tosses him around like a rag doll before almost sawing through his throat. The fact that he's denied even a thank-you kiss from the girl for saving her in no way diminishes his manliness. He's almost Chase Utley-ish. 40% bulletproof mountain lion.

(Jons gets rebuffed for his kiss)
Jons: You know I could have raped you. I never really go in for that though. It's too dull at the end.
Mute girl: ...

And then the movie cuts back to Bibbi Andersson dancing seductively in a jester's outfit. How is this 1956 again?

23 min in

Okay, again with the Death thing. Here he is, responsible for killing over HALF of the population of Sweden during the years between 1400 and 1440 because of the Bubonic Plague, and he spends 20 solid minutes talking to one knight WHO HE'S ALREADY BACKED OUT OF KILLING ONCE. Forget mercy, that's just inefficient business economics. How does this guy still have a job?

Still though, the scene is excellently framed by Bergman and offers some laughs:

A Monk: So you don't want to die?
Antonius: I do!
The monk turns to the camera, revealing that he is, in fact, Death.
Death: Then what are you waiting for?

Ahh yes, that one had me rolling in the aisles, haha.

27min in: I have to mention that the witch is not only creepy as hell with her keening wail, but has a tremendous chest. No bra, and she apparently slept with the devil, but really...look at that. Sure, I blame her...but I don't blame the Devil.

...for that. The rest, yeah, he's not such a nice guy.

19min in

Max age check: 32 as he confesses to a "monk" who we see is actually Death. It must be the light.

12 min in

Bibbi Andersson, playing Mia (or Mary, in Swedish) is one of those people that make you wonder where all of the hot women were in the 1950s. If you watch most movies from then the "hot" actress looks like your grandmother after she's shaved. You see enough of that and you just assume that attractive people started being born around 1970 and that's that. Then you meet Bibbi Andersson, who in 1956 makes Heidi Klum look like a bag lady. This isn't "Audrey Hepburn beautiful" where she looks like a porcelain doll that would be great to hang clothes off of. This is mouth-drying, throat-clearing attractive. I'm seriously tempted to see if she has grandchildren (no luck).

9 min in

Scariest line of the movie, by Jons the squire: "Last night two horses devoured each other."

6 min in

So if Death was a real entity, and his job was to collect people's souls and send them to the netherworld, and he was thus obviously very busy, don't you think that he would have put up more of an argument to Antonius Block gaining a reprieve by virtue of a chess challenge? Basic conversation (I'm changing like 4 words here):

Death: I'm going to kill you.
Antonius: Can't you wait like 2 days?
Death: I'm too busy.
Antonius: I bet I'm better than you at chess.
Death: Okay, let's play 2 day long game of chess and if you win you live and if I win I get to do my job, which I'm expected to do even though I'm not paid.

Does Death have low self-esteem or something? It's like arguing with a blond.

Live Blog 10/30/09

Okay so here's the first post in the live blog feed from watching The Seventh Seal. I'm going to try and do at least 1 post per 15 minutes of the movie, plus some other ones when I get to a part I find particularly interesting.

First the long, boring, SILENT opening credits. Bergman liked to rush through the opening credits but really...spring for some music. Then the cut to the sea eagle suspended in the air. I haven't figured that part out to be honest...why a sea eagle? Apparently Bergman starts a bunch of his movies by the ocean because he thinks that it represents turmoil and birth and wants the audience to think of the characters of just "arriving there" but all I can think of is "where is their ship?".

Max von Sydow was 26 when this was filmed in 1956, and looks like he's about 35 in the opening scene. He looks about 65 later on. In fact, I'll supply a "Von Sydow Age" for each scene. It's like his wrinkles replicate themselves.


Groundhog Day...
I won't write my reaction until my 20th viewing...but I'll say this, I may in fact be getting dumber.

Nicole Update

Just got a message from Nicole: her head cold was serious enough that she was sent home early from work and she immediately started watching Groundhog Day #17. She says that she might be too sick to go out tomorrow night too (Cleveland will be sorely missing a 5'7 pile of cool-whip with a strawberry on top) and is shooting to be finished with viewing #20 by tonight.

I fully intend to retaliate...I may not sleep tonight.

edit: In other news, I've given Nicole permission to post to the blog, so she'll be writing posts from now on also. I've asked her to use a different font for her posts so that people can differentiate between us but just a heads-up.

Coming attractions!

Tonight, starting at 6:00pm EST I will be doing my first play-by-play running blog for a watching of The Seventh Seal. It won't be a synopsis of the movie itself per se, but more of a portrait of what the experience is like to be watching a movie for the 14th time in 8 days. I'll be responding to any and all questions during the viewing so feel free to post them in the comments and I'll post answers as I go through them.

Some quick hits...

Just a quick update: I was talking to someone today and I called them a "great ugly bat", which is the adjective Jonas Skat uses to describe Death at the 1:15 mark of T7S. Nicole has already admitted that she's begun to hear Bill Murray monologues in her head as she walks to work, and has started using the invective "Bing!" more and more in our conversations. I had a dream on tuesday that I was watching T7S as well. Not a dream about the movie, or being in the movie (as I sometimes dream about, and I'm sure everyone does), but actually dreaming about sitting on the couch watching it. At times in the dream I could feel myself begin to wake up and I would panic because if I woke up the viewing "wouldn't count". I estimate that I watched about 20-40min of the movie in my dream, and I remember it exactly as being the section from the attempted rape in the abandoned village until after the strawberry and fresh milk scene with Joff and Mia and Antonius Block.

Something to keep an eye on...

The Pace Chart

Though the original goal was to have complete the 100 viewings of T7S within 365 days, the goal is to get it finished much sooner. In fact, considering that I can't really watch any other movies until i'm finished this challenge, the sooner the better. With 13 watches in my first 8 days (not including the 1-2 viewings that I hope to get in tonight) I'm on pace to be finished in just under 62 days, which would put my final viewing as sometime on the last day of the year, December 31st. Now obviously I'll need to take some days off; Christmas and Thanksgiving are the notable dates that jump out off the calendar. I should however, be able to compensate for those by saving away a buffer of watches on these next few weekends before Thanksgiving, and in the ones preceding Christmas. Additionally my plan is to start bringing my laptop to work and watching 30-45min of the movie during lunch. At 1:36:45 I could a solid 1/3-2/3 of the movie watched while I eat, and then finish it when I get home. Basically I think that if I shoot to watch T7S 1-2 times per day during the week and then at least twice a day during the weekends I'll be well ahead of the late December pace. If I can even watch it once a day during the week and then twice a day every Saturday and Sunday that will give me 9 viewings per 7 days, which will put me right on that December 31st pace of 1.6 viewings per day.

So I'll shoot for viewing #14 tonight, and then #15 and #16 tomorrow with #17 and #18 coming Sunday. With Nicole on 16 as of yesterday she should still have the lead, but I'll hopefully have gained a bit, and if I can stick to the pace I've outlined I'm not sure that she'll be able to keep up.

13 Watches down: Enter the Drinking Game

I attempted to get back to within striking distance of Nicole last night by finishing my 12th viewing (started on wednesday) and getting in my 13th. She was at 16 as of yesterday due to her inhuman performance of watching Groundhog Day 5 times in one day. Watching it with my roomate, who's already seen the movie and didn't particularly want to watch it again necessitated the invention of something that I'd planned to save for the dreary stretch of watches between 50-70: the drinking game.

We decided on some simple rules to start: 1) A drink whenever Death was in the shot, 2) a drink whenever anyone said "God" or "Lord" and 3) a drink whenever more than three characters were in the frame. The last one wasn't actually as bad as it sounds; Bergman primarily focuses on the small group of Antonius Block, Jons, Joff, Mia, Plogg, Lisa, Jonas Skat and the mute girl. He also combines them into the one group slowly as the movie progresses, and they aren't seen all together until just past the hour mark of the movie. Before then the only scenes with more than 3 people in a frame are the dancing bear scene, the flaggellants, and the scenes with Joff, Mia, Skat and Michael in the caravan near the beginning. Death appears only 7 times in the film, and so as we watched the movie we included under the umbrella of "Death" the gruesome skull-mask used by Jonas Skat near the start and then hung off of a branch on Joff and Mia's wagon.

Results, like the drinks, were mixed. Derek emphatically stated that there wasn't enough drinking. Because he said it "Sher's n'unuff shrinking!" I think that he may have been biased, but I think that we'll need to tweak the rules a bit as the drinking pace was quite slow for stretches. Perhaps something based on a change in music? I'm open to suggestions in the comments sections!

Watch Counter: 8 days, 13 watches

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Reaction to First Few Watches

I now know exactly what happens at the 30:00 mark (The attempted rape of the mute girl by Raval, the exact second that Raval tries to close the door and finds Jons behind it), the 37:45 mark (exactly one hour to go, the procession of the flaggelants enters the square, the screen cuts to a woman with brown hair who is crying) and the 60:00 mark (Plog stands during his talk about women with Jons and states how he will kills his wife Lisa and Jonas Skat when he finds them).

I also know from the audio commentary that Ingmar Bergman was dating Bibi Andersson, the actress who plays Mia, during the filming in 1956, and continued to for several years afterward. I also know that the corpse Jons (played by Gunnar Bjornstrand) finds at mark 10:00 is played by the assistant director and that Bergman had him walk into the commisary during lunch and delighted at how his gruesome makeup put off everyone's appetite. My old 3 favorite characters were Jons, Jonas Skat and Death, and now they are Death only in the scene where he cuts down Jonas Skat's tree (at mark 65:00), Anders Eck as the damning priest (at mark 39:00) and the witch, who appears twice and is riveting both times for her commitement to the role. Not everyone could stand having the actual blood and bile of a dog thrown at them, but she pulls it off well...

I've additonally picked up a few Swedish words by watching the swedish audio track version with subtitles turned off. A lot of Swedish sounds similar to French and Italian and there are a ton of English homonyms, which makes sense when you consider the historical input into Scandinavia by those countries. I'm going to keep at it; I'd really like to be able to learn Anders Eck's speech that he gives to the crowd at mark 39:00.

11 Views in...or make that 11.4...

One view in, The Seventh Seal was looking fairly good. Bits of humor and creative camera angles made it quite watchable, and there were no really terrible acting performances that could be magnified into eyesores after repeated viewings. However, at this point I'd gone from a lead of 10-4 in views to a deficet of 11-12, all due to a bout of bad luck and canny strategy. Down 10-4 my opponent had played the sympathy card and coaxed me into taking a full day off from watch T7S so she could catch up and at least make it competitive. She reminded me that the original reason behind us both doing this was that we could motivate each other and thus not bow out. On the day off she watched Groundhog Day 3 times and got to within 3, and then was struck by the flu bug and got all of today off from work. Having watched it twice the past two nights she'd caught me at 11, and so planned to take a 2 watch lead today whilst I clacked away at my keyboard at work. Now I'd started watching T7S last night, and had reached the 40min mark (when Lisa the blacksmith's wife is commencing her seduction of Jonas Skat) but had fallen asleep, just barely remembering to pause the movie so that it could be resumed later. So I'm stuck at 11.4 views while Nicole rushes out to possibly 13.

All is not lost however, as I fully intend to finish view #12 and commence view #13 tonight, and get a solid 5-6 viewings in this weekend. No Halloween plans as of yet, so it's possible Antonius Block and I might be spending a record-setting weekend together.

New Challenge: T7S versus GD!

I recently started a competition with a friend as to which of us could watch one movie a total of 100 times the fastest. The maximum time allowed would be one calendar year, 365 days, and the prize would be a customized trophy, crafted at the loser's expense. Each of us would be able to pick the other's movie, and when both had received our selected films, the competition would commence.

There were naturally parameters that governed what movies were available for selection. We deliberated for a few days and came up with the following restrictions: No X-rated movies, no musicals, no anime, no sequels, no dubbed films, and no foreign-language films that lacked a subtitle option. In addition we were each allowed 4 "actor vetos", a list of 4 actors whose films would be exempt. My adversary selected Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Keanu Reeves and Rene Zelleweger. I black-listed Matthew Broderick, LL Cool J, Jimmy Fallon and James Franco. The movie also could not be one that we knew our counterpart had seen before. The aim, remember, was to become the world's greatest authority on a potentially obscure film in a short amount of time (and of course to see what effect watching one movie 100 times within 365 days would actually DO to a person).

I selected Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie Mcdowell, for Nicole because I knew that a movie that repeats itself already would eventually become unbearable when repeated in entirety itself. I was feeling quite confident until I received my "prey". Flashing her whit and movie pretension she had gifted my with the 1957 classic black and white The Seventh Seal, a Swedish production by Ingmar Bergman. It was subtitled, 97 minutes long, and featured not only a dubbed audio option but also an audio commentary by an European film critic. The plot? A crusader knight and his squire return home from 10 years of fighting only to discover that the Black Death has overtaken Sweden. Additionally, Death has come for them, a fate that the knight attempts to postpone by engaging him in a deadly game of chess as he makes his way home to his castle and long-abandoned wife.

My blood boils in anticipation...