The Seventh Seal

In the 1000th edition of In Our Time, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss arguably the most celebrated film of the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007). It begins with an image that, once seen, stays with you for the rest of your life: the figure of Death playing chess with a Crusader on the rocky Swedish shore. The release of this film in 1957 brought Bergman fame around the world. We see Antonius Block, the Crusader, realising he can’t beat Death but wanting to prolong this final game for one last act, without yet knowing what that act might be. As he goes on a journey through a plague ridden world, his meeting with a family of jesters and their baby offers him some kind of epiphany.

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  • Jan Holmberg No other episodes
    Director of the Ingmar Bergman Foundation, Stockholm
  • Claire Thomson No other episodes
    Professor of Cinema History and Director of the School of European Languages, Culture and Society at University College London
  • Laura Hubner No other episodes
    Professor of Film at the University of Winchester

Reading list

  • The Director
    Alexander Ahndoril (trans. Sarah Death) (Granta, 2008) Google Books →
  • Images: My Life in Film
    Ingmar Bergman (trans. Marianne Ruuth) (Faber and Faber, 1995) Google Books →
  • The Magic Lantern: An Autobiography
    Ingmar Bergman (trans. Joan Tate) (Viking, 1988) Google Books →
  • The Best Intentions
    Ingmar Bergman (trans. Joan Tate) (Vintage, 2018) Google Books →
  • Sunday's Children
    Ingmar Bergman (trans. Joan Tate) (Vintage, 2018) Google Books →
  • Private Confessions
    Ingmar Bergman (trans. Joan Tate) (Vintage, 2018) Google Books →
  • Bergman on Bergman: Interviews with Ingmar Bergman
    Stig Bjorkman, Torsten Manns and Jonas Sima (trans. Paul Britten Austin) (Da Capo Press, 1993) Google Books →
  • The Seventh Seal: BFI Film Classics
    Melvyn Bragg (British Film Institute, 1993) Google Books →
  • The Ingmar Bergman Archives
    Paul Duncan and Bengt Wanselius (eds.) (Taschen/Max Strom, 2018)
  • Ingmar Bergman: An Enduring Legacy
    Erik Hedling (ed.) (Lund University Press, 2021) Google Books →
  • The Films of Ingmar Bergman: Illusions of Light and Darkness
    Laura Hubner (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) Google Books →
  • Queer Bergman: Sexuality, Gender, and the European Art Cinema
    Daniel Humphrey (University of Texas Press, 2013) Google Books →
  • Bergman Revisited: Performance, Cinema, and the Arts
    Maaret Koskinen (ed.) (Wallflower Press, 2008) Google Books →
  • The Phantom Carriage
    Selma Lagerlof (trans. Peter Graves) (Norvik Press, 2011) Google Books →
  • Swedish Film: An Introduction and Reader
    Mariah Larsson and Anders Marklund (eds.) (Nordic Academic Press, 2010) Google Books →
  • Ingmar Bergman and the Rituals of Art
    Paisley Livingston (Cornell University Press, 2019) Google Books →
  • Focus on The Seventh Seal
    Birgitta Steene (ed.) (Prentice Hall, 1972) Google Books →
  • Ingmar Bergman: A Reference Guide
    Birgitta Steene (Amsterdam University Press, 2014) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: m001qmkx

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Auto-category: 791.43 (Film and cinema)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. It's an image that once you've seen it, stays with you for the rest of your life.