CHECKMATE

Jul 13, 2009

Like Gary Giddins in his recent Criterion essay, Andrew O’Hehir, in an engaging and sharp new DVD review for Salon, sets out to refute the long-held misconception that Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal is a humorless, medicinal monolith. Pointing out the “drily comic figure” of Death, whom he calls a “medieval bureaucrat in a black cape”—and saving his greatest admiration for Gunnar Björnstrand’s character, Jöns the squire, “the film’s true existentialist man of action, closer to Dirty Harry than to Hamlet”—O’Hehir does a terrific job of making Bergman’s masterpiece accessible, while also refusing to overlook its more metaphysical concerns and abstractions. It’s definitely worth a click.