It has been at least seven years since I watched “The Seventh Seal“. I had moved to Berkeley. The UC Theater, (which unfortunately, closed down in 2001), offered a veritable feast of movies I had been starved of in India – a different ‘art’ movie from across the world every night. “The Seventh Seal” was one such movie that I had waited many years to watch.
It was exactly what Ingmar Bergman had said about cinema – “No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls.” It was dark. It was stormy. It cut through all protection, reaching into a place most art, and movies, in particular, never do.
Is his death the final seal on a generation of directors, who, along with Akira Kurosawa, and Satyajit Ray, made movie as music? Directors who made our emotions dominate our intellect? Or am I simply too old fashioned, and ill-informed to discover the same intensity in new cinema? Or is it that this age of information and sensory overload, doesn’t allow for the mental space required for a sumptuous movie, like the Seventh Seal, to sink in? Or is it that we want to be in control of what we choose to explore, rather than let a movie keep us in its inescapable grip – just like the grim reaper does the knight in a game of chess? I hope that none of this is true – that I am still young, and well-informed; that we still want movies to kick up a storm within us; and that the final seal has not yet been secured on directors who force us to a see reality in its myriad forms.