Disillusioned by his years as a crusader, a weary knight (Max Von Sydow) returns home to find his native Sweden besieged by plague and religious hysteria and his own faith shattered.
In The Seventh Seal (1957) director Ingmar Bergman - the son of a Protestant minister - attempts nothing less than to describe man's philosophical and religious situation. Though his story is set in the Middle Ages, its concerns are universal: faith versus disbelief, carnality versus restraint, fear versus hope.
This film classic screens on Sunday, September 30, 2012, at 1:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch as part of the Movies That Matter film series.
Introductory and closing remarks are provided by Robert W. Butler, for more than 40 years film critic of The Kansas City Star and now a member of the Library's public affairs staff.
The characters in Bergman's world may exist in another era, but their approaches to life aren't in the least bit dated. There are religious mystics and spiritual charlatans, seekers after chasteness and seekers after pleasure. There are fools and lovers, soldiers and sufferers.
And, oh yes, there's black-robed Death himself, who accepts the knight's challenge of a game of chess. As long as the human controls the board, he can go on living.
Sounds awfully grim. But The Seventh Seal is also a remarkably funny film, albeit one that builds to a sublimely transcendent conclusion.
Admission is free. RSVP online or call 816.701.3407.
Other titles in the series:
October 14: Rashomon (1950)
October 28: Nosferatu (1922)
November 4: Raging Bull (1980)
November 18: The Bicycle Thieves (1948)
December 2: The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
December 9: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1939)
January 6: The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
January 13: My Darling Clementine (1946)
January 27: Bringing Up Baby (1938)
February 10: All About Eve (1950)
February 25: Dr. Strangelove (1964)
March 10: The Circus (1928)
March 24: Rear Window (1954)
April 7: Wings of Desire (1987)
April 21: Singin' in the Rain (1952)
May 5: Sunset Boulevard (1950)
May 19: Metropolis (1927)