Thursday, September 30, 2010


I started 80 as well and ended up having a really fun dialogue with my brother on whether the specific chess pieces could represent players in the film.  I don't think that we could completely tie them together, but I did find it interesting that the viewer only sees Death capture two of the knight's pieces and both of those pieces CAN be tied directly to the plot.

First we see Death capture Block's rook, or "knight" in the field of milk and strawberries.  The Rook is an obvious avatar for Block, and when Death captures that piece we get the sense that Death is trying to show that Block cannot escape him.  It's a fun scene because Block has for the first time in the film achieved a sense of inner peace and contentment, spurred on by his nostalgia and the idyllic family of Joff, Mia and Michael.  Indeed, when his knight is captured Block laughs because he's tricked Death into a trap whereby he has him in check.  In a sense, he's checked his own fear of dying by reveling in memories of his youthful love.  Only when Death intimates that he's also after Michael does Block lose this peace, and succumb again to tortured despair.

The second, and last time we see Block lose a piece to Death is probably the darkest point in the movie, both emotionally and literally.  The group has just seen the witch be burned alive and Raval give up his ghost as a result of catching the plague.  There is a sense, as even Jons notices, of unearthly anticipation, as if something terrible is about to happen.  Death, upon appearing, immediately captures Block's queen.  This part I found can be interpreted two ways.  One, that Death is striking his final psychological blow against Block, and trying to show prove his inability to protect himself and his companions, or Two: Death is foreshadowing that the knight's wife, Karin, is also doomed.  I'm not sure which is a better message to be honest.  I like them both, and I think both add to the background sense of desperation that justifies Block's act of knocking his pieces to the ground to stall Death's inevitable victory.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

i haven't thrown in the towel just yet...i may or may have not gotten in one more viewing today...i want to kill myself, but i did it. sorry nils...
i don't know if i'll make it, but it's a true race now...instead of a blowout victory by myself.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

78 done

Nothing really noteworthy here, just plugging away.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Crux, no, not a Harry Potter post

Nicole recently told me, flat out, that she has no interest in reaching 100 viewings of GHD.  She never really got back into the flow of watching it after the long hiatus and even though she's 19 viewings away with 27 days left has decided to throw in the towel and concede the (presumed, as she's still technically sitting ahead of me) victory.

Initially I was disappointed because it was a really strange thing that we'd been able to share for almost a year.  We'd gone from great friends to a couple, and though I can't give all of the credit to Antonius Block and Phil Connors, I think they deserve some at least.  I'm still intending to finish my 100 but I think I've started to already look back on the competition with fondness, not only for how it changed me but how I've changed in general over the course of the last 11 months, accompanied by a conflicted knight and his jaded squire.  When I see copies of The Seventh Seal in movie stores I don't exclaim "Hey!  I know that movie!" but instead it's a slow smile as if I was greeting a forgotten friend, and a slew of memories from a time when I dared to be stupid.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Starting 78 - Am I Joff or Raval?

With Cole suffering from a head cold and unable to watch Groundhog Day as she catches up on sleep, I'm feeling pangs of guilt as I forge ahead to try and catch her this week.  Am I Raval, who steals from the dead and attempts to take advantage of those less fortunate?  Does this mean that I'll die of the plague?  Then again, Joff indirectly steals from the dead when he purloins the "solid silver" bracelet from Raval later on.  If I'm the underdog as opposed to the bully does it mitigate or even absolve my actions?  I'm thinking that I should be extra nice to Cole regardless.  Either she gets better and finishes strong with me, or appreciates the kindness enough to let it slide that I've snuck in 3 viewings while she's gotten in none.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Sneak attack Cole.  Straight trippin.

Sing a ling

Jons sings about death and sex while Joff sings about religious holidays.  Not so subtle here, Ingmar...

I was also watching the performance by Joff, Mia and Skat in the town near Elsinore and caught the joke again.  The first song that they play has Skat (dressed as a rooster, or "cock") seducing Mia away from her husband Joff, who is thus crowned with a cuckold's horns.  Of course then the next scene is Skat seducing Lisa, who thus cuckolds her husband Plogg.  The irony is not lost here.  The really interesting part is that in the second song Joff and Mia sing about Death celebrating a victory.  That could really be perceived as Death making an appearance in the story, summoned if you will by Skat and Lisa's indiscretion.  Visited by Death in this way, and unable to postpone his Death by way of a game of chess as Block had done, Skat is then the first to die.  Lisa is saved, at least momentarily, because she travels with Block and the virtuous actors.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Sea Eagle, and 76

By showing a sea eagle at the start of the film is Bergman trying to foreshadow the appearance of Death, to portray him as a predator, stalking Antonius Block and his squire?  Peter Cowie's audio commentary describes the eagle "floating balefully" so there's definitely a negative connotation.  Too many questions.

Elin formerly Woods

That's who Bibi Andersson is reminding me of.  Oh, and 75 down.


Fries, skies, rise, eyes...


Honestly I think it was for a nice dinner.  Perhaps some milk and strawberries?  Or Angel-food cake eaten in one bite?
it's like i said, i love this film, i've seen it over 100 times


Okay so we're back. And I fear Nils has almost immediately entered into the dark world of the seventh seal.

i'm on 80, 81

Did we ever discuss a prize? It damn well be something pretty sweet because this blows.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The voice, and 75 starting

At the beginning of the movie the first lines are from The Revelations of St. John the Divine, a fact that we all know by this point.  However, watching the intro this time something struck me.  The voice that reads the lines, the only "narrator" that we have throughout the entire movie sounds remarkably similar to that of Bengt Ekarot, the actor that plays Death.  Could it be that the entire movie is a story set up by Death?  A parable of a sort, designed to advocate Joff's approach to life instead of Antonius Block's?  That would certainly put a slant on the story, and make it even more of an overt commentary on ethics than it already is.  Joff and Mia are already essentially caricatures of Joseph and Maria, the "adopted" parents of Christ (Abstinence!  99.99999% effective!).  If Bergman has framed T7S as a cautionary story told by Death it would blow my mind.  This question must be answered.


Bring da noise.  I'll bring da Bergman.

Some interesting points

A few points that have come up during viewing #74:

1) There are two visitations in the first two introductions of characters.  First, Death visits Antonius Block on the beach.  The second visitation, occurring just after Block and Jons pass by the caravan, is the Virgin Mary and the Christ child appearing to Joff.  Now I find this interesting because of the similarities and the differences in the visits, but more importantly in how the visits effect the viewers.

In both cases the visitations are of a supernatural origin, appearing out of thin air and surprising the viewer.  In both cases the revelation is made to a single male, and in both that male is in charge of others.  Interestingly enough both Block and Joff instantly accept the validity of what they've seen.  Neither doubt that they've been visited by a higher power.  The differences have much more import, and makes me wonder how much Bergman intended to craft his characters through the visits.  The visit of the Virgin Mary has puzzled me throughout my many viewings especially.    While Death appears several times and plays in integral part of the story, the Virgin Mary only appears once, and is not even mentioned again.  Also, while the Virgin Mary is silent Death speaks to Block, and perhaps that is why Block decides not to share his experience with his companion.  Joff of course immediately tells Mia what he's seen.  Now, are Block and Joff the chosen parties for their revelations because they have certain powers?  Remember that Joff is able to see Death when he visits Block for their final showdown at the chessboard.  If he had waited a few more minutes, would Block have been able to see the Virgin and precluded his internal doubt?  Would he have curried favor with God by sharing his experience with his squire?  Obviously the key differences between Joff and Block are their levels of faith and the fact that Joff and his family survive Death's visitation.  Is Joff's visitation a sign that his family is protected, or just that he has extra-sensory detection?  Death hints later on that he desires to kill the actor and his family.  Is he especially eager because he's been barred from them by God until they joined with Block's group?  There really are a lot of questions raised here.  I'll have to think abut them a bit more as I work my way to the finish.

2)  I think I've come up with a new "plague pattern".  At the start of the film Block is visited by Death, dooming him.  He then kicks Jons to wake him up, passing the plague to him.  Jons then touches both Raval and the Mute Girl, dooming them as well.  Raval touches Plogg, who then is patted on the back by Skat, and clutched at by Lisa.  This explains everyone and also explains why Joff, Mia, and Michael are spared as they never make direct physical contact with any of the affected party after they've been infected.  Of course the timeline doesn't quite work if the disease is linear, but that can be explained by variables in immune systems and personal hygiene.