Classic Trailers Revisited: “The Seventh Seal” (1958)

I’m not sure if i’ll ever do a list of my top 10 favorite films. Rest assured however; If I did, Ingmar Bergman’s 1958 film The Seventh Seal would be somewhere in the top 5. Earlier this year I wrote a review of this film, not only is it a timeless classic it’s essential viewing. It’s the original theatrical trailer that established the central themes contained within the film itself. Bergman’s films have been praised as some of the most influential in history. Inspiring countless filmmakers from Woody Allen to Lars Von Trier.A central part of Bergman’s philosophy and approach to filmmaking is that every scene should matter, and every film should entertain.

The trailer opens with waves crashing upon the Scandinavian shore. And we’re introduced to our two main characters. Death, and a young knight named Antonius Block who has just returned from the crusades.  Death asks Block if he ever stops questioning, to which Block replies “No, I never stop.” This sets up the main theme of the film.The doubt of the existence of God. Death not only represents the ending of mortality, but the old traditional way of thinking. Block is the manifestation of a new generation who dares to question age old traditional beliefs.

We’re also introduced to a family of young actors name Jof and Mia. They symbolize hope and joy. In a film that depicts life and death side by side, they are the force that celebrates life. Jof is somewhat of an allegory of the fool from a Tarot deck. Wandering through life enjoying all it has to offer.Despite the arrival of the black plague, they continue to find the light at the end of the tunnel, for the lack of a better term.

Bergman than gives us a brief overview of the events to come. Block and Death engaged in a game of chess. Symbolizing the central motif of life and death.Block first plays for a chance to save his own mortality. Then later to save the lives of Jof and Mia who he meets later in the film.

Probably one of the better trailers produced for a film.It gives the audience a view of the themes that will be explored, without giving much of the plot away at a first glance. Perfect presentation for essential viewing.


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