Skip to main content

Movie Critic Review: The Silence of God

"I feel so f**king intelligent while watching this." One Youtube viewer.

And when the Lamb had opened the seventh seal, there was silence
 in heaven about the space of half an hour." (Revelation 8:1)

The Seventh Seal (1957)

The warrior and his comfortably non-believing friend are back from the Crusades of the mid 14th century into their plagued homeland.
Death is everywhere. Belief is withering away in despair. On a gloomy Scandanavian beach with ominously shredded black clouds, Death materializes to the warrior and asks if he is ready "to go"! Antonius Block, the warrior answers: My body, yes. But me? NO.
Then Block, who luckily happens to have his travel chess game with him, invites Death to a game he seems confident to win. Basically he tries to "trick" Death into a respite! In this respite he unrealistically tries to acquire "knowledge" not faith! One of his biggest questions was why God is being silent?  His supplementary questions are no less critical
"Why must He hide in a mist of vague promises
and invisible miracles? Why is it so hard to conceive God with one’s senses?
He goes into a chapel to confess his thoughts about God and ask for his support.
Here comes the time for Death to return Block's early "trick" for he easily impersonates the priest and learns from Block himself his tactics to win the chess game!
In fact, Death has his allies lurking in the chapel. Watch how Bergman designs his angles and close shots with sideway lightings and frames to install uneasiness and anxiety and where? In a chapel! The impact prepares the viewer for a conspiracy of some sort!
Death's allies are in the crucifix as it represents both the silent God and the agonized Christ and then that "cheap" priest!
Block sustains his winnings and sees some good moments as those spent with the poet's family and company. Mia, the poet's wife is exquisitely portrayed by Bibi Andersson
But the plague is spreading.
An innocent girl is burnt to death after being accused of bringing the plague by practicing witchcraft! Block's companion, who is furious at the burning of the girl, is such a commendable non-believer! He protests to the end. He is composed and fully-rested during these tribulations! 
Death, in the stormy sky of the closing scene, triumphantly bids them dance. He wants
them to hold hands and to tread the dance in a long line! He leads them all by the skythe and the hour-glass silhouetted against a dimly grey horizon. The grey being the neutrality
of all things in the face of death. The inevitable acceptance of doom.  
Upon deciding to review this indispensable movie, it flashed in mind how opposed to the category in which I put my blog it would be! I am supposed to review movies under the broad and happy category of “entertainment”. Well, unless one can derive pleasure from asking the heavy-weight question: “What if there is no God?” or can “entertain” contemplating such tragic utterances as “emptiness under the moon” issued by Block's companion!
But in fact to put Block's question this way is quite amusing and rational. And it is inclusive i.e. those who are not willing to believe are happily entered in this plea. That makes sense. For It is not a big deal to separate those willing to not believe from those willing to believe as everything will mean nothing (if there is no God!)
People tend to think atheism is hip and trendy. A matter of "I beg to differ". But the atheist is tormented by the absence of the very God he strives to negate. Atheism is not a picnic. The situation is like this: God is silent. You don’t believe in him. Death is noisy.
You have got to listen and believe in him!
As such, this great work of Bergman does not necessarily look like an autobiography.
Bergman could be represented by Block's companion and not Block himself, the agonized person who hides his fears of God behind the demand for knowledge! And it is knowledge that he is after not belief or faith!

Most memorable parts of this iconic black and white movie:
  • The opening scene: Playing chess with Death.
  • The confession scene: Confessing to Death his plans to beat Death.
  • The closing scene: The silhouetted dance on the stormy horizon.
This last scene was a oner, meaning it was taken once. Bergman decided upon a cloud
to shoot it at once. It worked!

The Seventh Seal (1957)

Sweden, 96min, mono, black and white.
Written by (a play): Ingmar Bergman 
Screenplay by: Ingmar Bergman
Directed by: Ingmar Bergman
Cast: Max Von Sidow (Antonius Block),
Bengt Ekerot (Death),
Gunnar Bojornstrod (Block's companion),
Bibi Andersson (Mia), Maud Hansson (witch)  

The first clip below contains an important part of the confession scene.
The second clip is a special bonus. A brilliantly written song well-edited
with the sequence of events of the movie. With a lively (?) tempo. By
Scott Walker. Courtsey of standingathwart on


Popular posts from this blog

سؤال الضهبان

سؤال الضهبان
لا تظنن أنه سؤال هيّن! أو عليك أن تتأكد أن السائل لم يعد ضهبان. وحتى في هذه الحالة ربما لم يجد الجواب ولكنه فقط تحوّل من (الضهب) إلى حالة أحسن نسبياً ودون تفسير. أي سؤال هو ليس بالهيّن. وأي سؤال هو لم يُسأل عبثاً ولهوا. زي، يلاقيك زول ويسأل: كيف اصبحت؟ تجربة وجودية عديل كدا. طيب تعال شوف كمية التزوير في الجواب! طبعاً مافي زول بيجاوب على السؤال دا بالضبط كدا. كلنا تقريبين في السؤال دا وفي غيره من اسئلة كثيرة. الجواب هو المصطنع في أغلب الأحوال وليس السؤال! ياخي حتى السؤال الغبي، الواحد بيتمرمط أمامه. لذلك سؤال الضهبان دا هو موئل الغناء والشعر الكاذب والبطولات! ومن الناس من يحاول أن يغشك! إنهم أهل الاجابات الذين تتكوّر ذواتهم في نهايات الأسطر، مدلهّمة. نقطة سطر جديد! - هوي انت هه! يعني شايل ليك اجابة كدا وفرحان بيها، قايل السؤال مات!؟ دعني أقول لك: جميع الأسئلة التي سمعت والتي لم تسمع بها، جميعها تتمتع بخلود مطلق! السؤال فيهو حيوية والاجابة ديمة نايصة. السؤال بيخلع وجامد. الجواب هو ختة النَفَس، التقية من عصف المشاعر. السؤال، أي سؤال، فيهو قوة، فيهو شواظ وبيطقطق زي قندول عيش ريف معذّب. الاج…

جليد نساي، المقال كامللاً

جليد نسّاي
قراءة في رواية الرجل الخراب
تأليف عبد العزيز بركة ساكن بقلم مصطفى مدثر
الجزء الأول

أيها القارئ المرائي، يا شبيهي، يا أخي - بودلير، شاعر فرنسي الفكرة الرئيسة [عند إليوت] هي أننا، حتى ونحن ملزمون بأن نعي ماضوية الماضي..، لا نملك طريقة عادلة لحجر الماضي عن الحاضر. إن الماضي والحاضر متفاعمان، كلٌ يشي بالآخر ويوحي به، وبالمعنى المثالي كلياً الذي ينتويه إليوت ، فإن كلاً منهما يتعايش مع الآخر. ما يقترحه ت س  إليوت بإيجاز هو رؤيا للتراث الأدبي لا يوجهها كلياً التعاقب الزمني، رغم أنها تحترم هذا التعاقب. لا الماضي ولا الحاضر، ولا أي شاعر أو فنان، يملك معنىً كاملاً منفرداً- إدوارد سعيد، أستاذ الأدب الإنجليزي الطريق إلى الحقيقة يمر بأرض الوساوس - شانون برودي، عاملة صيدلية.

يبدو مفارقاً، بل غرائبياً، أن تُهرع  لقصيدة ت س إليوت (الأرض الخراب) كي تعينك على فهم استلهام عبد العزيز بركة ساكن لها في كتابة روايته القصيرة، الرجل الخراب. فالمفارقة هي أن القصيدة المكتوبة في 1922، وبما عُرف عنها من تعقيد ووعورة، تحتاج هي نفسها لعشرات الشروحات، لكونها مغرقة في الإحالات لتواريخ وثقافات وأديان، بل ولغات أ…

MovieGlobe: Japan's Version of Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet (2007) JapanOriginal Article by: Fateh Mirghani-Japan

I have just finished watching the masterpiece of Shakespeare” Romeo and Juliet “in its Japanese version.
The quality of the movie is great and the soundtrack, injected with a little Japanese folklore music, has given it a sensational dimension and Eastern fascination!
Basically, the theme of the movie remains the same as the original play, and that has been a particular Japanese notion in dealing with other nations’ cultural products. Part of the reason may lay in Japan's sensitivity to other nations’cultural products- given the long standing historical disputes with its neighbours, and part of it may lay in a fierce sense of homogeneity that has come to characterize Japan as an island nation-state since time immemorial. Thus the Japanese, unlike the Americans, don’t seem to have the temerity to ‘Japanize’ others’ cultural stuff. The movie “Renaissance man”  can be cited as an example of American boldness. The …