16/07/2017

The Seventh Seal - Truth And Lies

Quick Thoughts: The Seventh Seal (Det Sjunde Inseglet, 1957)

A crusader returns to his homeland, which is being ravaged by the Black Death.


The Seventh Seal is probably Ingmar Bergman's most iconic film, one that is imbued with an incredible amount of religious symbolism and allusions. Whilst I have an ok grip on this film as I have watched it a handful of times, I'm not confident enough to do a deep dive into its narrative just yet. However, what really sunk me into The Seventh Seal on this re-watch is Bergman's meditation on the purpose of suffering in a world that we say is benevolent, though can manifest itself with overwhelming malevolence. The Seventh Seal thus seems to be a question of nihilism; why shouldn't we believe, and so live as if, the world is meaningless? This is a stance that can be assumed justified with unshaken rationality. And as this narrative focuses on, the only comprehensible entity that keeps people from nihilism is fear; a fear of isolation, a fear of death, of pain, of the unknown, of perpetual suffering. We thus cling to meaning as to manifest about ourselves a shield - a lie. Now, a lie is not a simple concept as there are lies that serve a purpose, that protect and oil the complex clockwork of living. Truth is nonetheless an infinitely useful commodity, if applied and used right, as it opens up reality to human understanding. And this is the conflict present within The Seventh Seal; lies and truth concerning the existential unknown can tear people apart, especially when the seeming truth is one that cannot be understood and cannot be absorbed.

However, whilst I think this is a major element of The Seventh Seal, there is clearly more to this narrative that needs to be considered. So, I'll end here by asking, have you seen The Seventh Seal? What are your thoughts?





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