The Gruntleds had a wonderfully nerdy Thanksgiving evening. After the guests had left, we settled in to watch Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal." Mrs. G. and I had seen it in college, but we wanted to show it to Endub, who had been studying Kierkegaard.
The film is a fantastically made movie. Scene after scene is framed iconically. The serious moral quest of the knight to know God, the counterpoint of his cynical, worldly squire, and the terrible blankness of Death, are worth wresting with. For a Christian, the film is disturbingly ambiguous. The last word seems to go to Death and the squire - that beyond this life there is nothing and unknowing.
When we had seen it through, we did something I have not done before: immediately saw it again with the commentary on - in this case by British film historian Peter Cowie. Cowie brought out a helpful point. Bergman was surprised at the huge impact of "The Seventh Seal." He described it as a little movie that he and some friends made one summer. Bergman himself rejected the faith of his minister father, and became a hedonistic atheist. In the film, the director identified with the squire.
Endub and I agreed, though, that the film has its power because viewers identify with the knight. The knight does sacrifice himself to do a meaningful good act in this life. And the ending does not settle the knight's question about God -- whatever the director might think.