Sunday, February 11, 2007

Watchin’ the newly dead dance across the hills.

Went and saw Bergman’s The Seventh Seal today at the Belcourt as part of the Janus Films extravaganza. A perky little Scandinavian number in which—“A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.” The usual stuff. Made in 1957 for $150,000 (can you even make a fairly decent TV commercial for that today?). Hadn’t seen it in years, and was surprised to find it contained quite a bit of quiet, lovely humor, despite its Europe-during-the-Plague setting. Hard to fully get its actual dramatic impact after growing up with the cheekiness of Monty Python’s Holy Grail.

A little trivia: “The last-but-one scene in which Death is dancing away with his followers was shot when some of the actors had gone home for the day, using some technicians and a few tourists as stand-ins.”

That scene with Death and the newly dead...the images of Death, in his pale, hooded grimreaperness...the beautiful Bibi Andersson...the tall handsome young Max von Sydow, before he got old and started playing bad guys...the Joseph and Mary characters doing their musical number as the procession of flagellants many stunning, memorable visual scenes. He always had that, that Bergman.