Those looking for a more explicit exploration of faith and God – themes for which Bergman would become famed for in his films – should look no further than the medieval pageantry of The Seventh Seal - Bergman’s allegorical drama starring Max von Sydow as a knight trying to elude his own death.
The film vividly recreates a medieval world tormented by plague and superstition. Disillusioned and exhausted after a decade of battling in the Crusades, a knight (von Sydow) encounters Death on a desolate beach and challenges him to a fateful game of chess in order to postpone his own demise.
Much studied, imitated, even parodied, but never outdone, Bergman’s stunning allegory of man’s search for meaning, was one of the benchmark foreign imports of America’s 1950s art-house heyday, pushing cinema’s boundaries and ushering in a new era of moviegoing. Bergman was always fascinated by how humans cope with suffering, injustice, mortality and uncertainty and The Seventh Seal remains his most fascinating and touching study of faith in crisis.