Death is unexplainable. It happens to everyone, everything, and its uncontrollable. Because of this, many have their own interpretations of death. In Ingmar Bergman’s movie, The Seventh Seal, death is portrayed to be deceitful and humorous. The film also reveals that the nature of death is irrelevant to our expectations. Since death is inevitable, deceitfulness is certain. At the beginning of the movie, the Knight talks Death into a game of chess to prolong his life and even have the chance to escape death all together.
Throughout the film, the Knight and Death proceed with their game when time is found between the two. At one point away from their match, the Knight goes to a church searching for answers from God and sees a priest at a confession window. The Knight goes to ask the priest for answers and admits that he is playing a game of chess with Death. He then foolishly confesses his strategy to win his chess match, only to find out that Death was actually the priest. Death then tells the Knight, “I’ll remember that,” as he disappears with a smirk and the Knight’s strategy to win the game.
This is not the only time that Death used his dishonesty and trickery to make sure his job was complete to take people’s lives though. Another instance in the movie is where a witch is going to be burned. She is seen throughout the story as being possessed by the devil and being avoided by everyone except for the soldiers, paid to transport her to the burning. When she is in the final minutes of her life, the knight asks the soldiers the answer of why her hands were crushed and why she is being burned. The soldiers then answered him, “Ask the monk.
As the Knight turned around to see who the monk was, he saw Death dressed in his dark cloak with a grin on his face knowing he has fooled the soldiers into believing he was a monk, and that the witch must die. Just these two instances show death’s deceitfulness to make sure people know death in unavoidable. Death is also depicted as having a sense of humor in The Seventh Seal as well. When Death and the Knight first begin their chess match, the Knight grabs one black and white piece from the board and put them behind his back and exchanges them from hand to hand.
He then held both hands out and Death chose one to determine his color for the game. As he picked the hand he drew the black piece determining his color. With his dry sense of humor Death said, “Very appropriate, don’t you think so? ” with a pale grin on his face. Another occurrence of Death’s sense of humor is when it is Skat’s time to die. The musician was on top of a tree and Death showed up with a saw and started to saw it down showing the variety of ways he takes lives to the afterlife.
When doing this, Skat is trying to reason with Death by telling him that he can’t die because he has a performance. Once again, Death answers in a monotone voice, “Then it’s canceled because of death. ” Skat then brings up his contract into the dialogue but Death abruptly replies, “Your contract is terminated,” showing his wittiness as people reason their life with him. Death’s conversation with the people he his taking lives from is emotionally irrelevant which shows his dry wit to the occasion. Given that death is certain, when people are approached by it, they ask for forgiveness and mercy from God.
Everyone wants to know the answer if there really is a heaven and a hell, if there really is an afterlife, but nobody is certain. That is why the nature of death is irrelevant to our expectations. On one instance in the movie, the Knight is talking to Death and asks God for knowledge, only to have Death answer, “He remains silent. ” The knight then cries, “I call out to Him in the dark but no one seems to be there,” only to have Death reply, “Perhaps no one is there. ” This is not the only time death answers the knight’s questions.
At the end of the chess game between the two, the knight once again asks death to divulge his secrets about life after death, but Death answers, “I have no secrets,” and that he has nothing to tell. To question death is impractical. We demand answers when death arrives but receive none. Death is just another step in the circle of life. We can’t expect answers at the end of our life when we didn’t search for them when we were alive. Still today, Bergman’s interpretation of death is highly respected by others, and even used by present directors. Of course death is deceitful; it has to be or people would live forever.
There is no escaping it. For when your time comes, your life will flash before your eyes. Evidently, it will be of your blissful memories with friends and family. You should die with a pleasant smile on your face. That is why death is described as being humorous in Bergman’s film. Since death is the one thing in life that no one can gain knowledge on, everyone expects answers when their time has come. Do they receive them? Death knows nothing about existence after him; it’s just another step in life. Do you strive for answers about afterlife, or will you ignore till your time comes?
Courtney from Study Moose
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