The Seventh Seal is set to the Middle Ages while the black plague is spreading across Europe. A knight named Antonius is returning from the crusades with his squire Jøns. On their way home, they meet several other travelers, among them an ensemble of actors. Antonius has lost faith: all he sees is sorrow and evil. In the end, he crosses paths with Death himself, and challenges him to a game of chess in one of the most legendary scenes of film history. The Seventh Seal is an authentic, undiluted classic, and one of Bergman’s very best.
Bengt Ekerots pale, hairless face and his cloaked figure as Death, stands in great contrast to the weathered, blonde Antonius, played by Max von Sydow. Both faces became symbols of Ingmar Bergman’s leap into the centre of modernistic film art. Ekerot was only to be seen in one other Bergman film, The Face from 1958, but that was enough: His portrait of Death in The Seventh Seal is the very symbol of Bergman’s work from the fifties. Max von Sydow, on the other hand, became an international star and were to be seen in Bergman’s work on several occasions.