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.

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