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The Seventh Seal (1957)
The Seventh Seal (1957)
The Seventh Seal (1957)
The Seventh Seal (1957)
The Seventh Seal (1957)
The Seventh Seal (1957)

Film Studies

Cinema Classics Seminar:
The Seventh Seal

Wednesday, November 9, 2022, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm  
Instructor: Jennifer Fleeger, Ph.D., Media and Communication Studies, Ursinus College

Swedish director Ingmar Bergman is often parodied for his gloom, and at the expense of this film in particular. It’s true that The Seventh Seal (1957), which asks serious questions about the meaning of existence, is set during the Crusades and features both a witch-burning and the black-clad figure of Death playing the ultimate game of chess. Yet, every frame of Bergman’s picture teems with life, from the birds in the skies to the light piercing the bars of a medieval church to a touching scene of an ersatz holy family feasting on strawberries and milk. This story of a knight questioning his faith has been a staple of art cinema for 65 years yet seems newly relevant in a world still struggling with the effects of a global pandemic.

Our seminar will address Bergman’s style and philosophy, both of which were introduced to a global audience when The Seventh Seal won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes in 1957. We will discuss the origins of the story in Bergman’s play Wood Painting and his other inspirations, as well as Gunnar Fischer’s glorious cinematography and its influence on world cinema. We will unpack some of the film’s most famous imagery—the dance of death and the game of chess—without neglecting the story’s religious themes. And we can’t not detail the career of the magnificent Max Von Sydow. Join us to understand the history of The Seventh Seal while gaining a framework for interpreting the film in the present.

Are you interested in “just” seeing this movie? Additional showtimes can be found here.

Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. All students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, those in attendance receive a ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink. Please note: the screening associated with this seminar will be open to the public, as well.

If you are unable to attend this seminar on site, you can rent and stream it in our Remote Classroom beginning a week after the event date.

Please email BMFI Programs and Education Coordinator Jill Malcolm with any questions.


Course Information

$25 for members, $35 for non-members

On Site

  • Wednesday, November 9 · 6:30 pm

September – December 2022



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