SYNOPSIS: “The Seventh Seal” (1957) is a slice of life from a 14th

SYNOPSIS: “The Seventh Seal” (1957) is a slice of life from a 14th century Swedish village,
which was experiencing the devastating effects of the plague. The film has two interwoven
storylines. The first centers on Block, a disillusioned crusader who returns home after 10 years in
the holy land. Meeting Death along the way, he attempts to forestall his fate by challenging Death
to a game of chess in which, if the knight won, death would leave him alone. On successive days,
the opponents move one chess piece at a time. Meanwhile, the knight sees villagers struggle
understand their impending doom in the context of their religious faith. The second storyline
involves a husband and wife acting team, who pass through the village at the same time as the
night. The two are surprisingly happy, and their upbeat show stands in stark contrast to the
surrounding misery. The couple meets the knight, and the group, along with some others, travel
to the knight’s castle. Along the way the knight plays his final move with the Death. He loses, but
distracts Death long enough to allow the couple to escape. The knight and the rest of the group
arrive at the castle, and subsequently meet their fate at Deaths hands. As the storyline develops,
the movie highlights many of the worst shortcomings of religion. Among these are religion’s
inadequate explanations of human suffering, the absence of any compelling proof of God’s
existence, religion’s emphasis on self-mortification, religion’s slowing the progress of scientific
explanation, the misguided witch hunts by church authorities, the immoral conduct of the
clergy, and the tendency of religious leaders to manipulate believers into performing immoral
2. Block continues in his confession that if God isn’t there, “then life is a senseless terror.
No man can live with Death and know that everything is nothing.” Believers often assert
that a Godless world is gloomy. Must an atheist agree? Do you?
3. Block also states in his confession that “We must make an idol of our fear and call it
God.” This reflects the psychological theory that belief in God is initially sparked by fear
of the unknown. Do you agree with this? Does this undermine religion?
5. One of the more shocking scenes in the film is the “procession of flagellants” in which
believers march through the streets whipping each other. They aimed to purge their sins,
drive away Satan and escape the plague, which, they believed, God inflicted on them as a
punishment. Jons asks, “Do they really expect modern people to take the drivel
seriously?” Are there contemporary equivalents of this that are less extreme?
9. When Death finally enters the castle, Block trembles, recites his prayers, and hopes to
be rescued. Jons mocks him saying “there is no one to listen to your lament. I could have
purged your worries about eternity, but now it’s too late. But feel, to the very end, the
triumph of being alive.” What is Jons' point?
Write about SOME issues raised in these questions.
Can you use any Quotes from “Univeral Fear” or Boccaccio or
Heidegger in support?