Thursday, January 20, 2005

Not much to write about. except my apologies for forgetting to post more of the VR story this week. I’ll post a bit after the following review of The Seventh Seal, which I wrote several months ago and now have a chance to post.

It’s a weird film. The plot is primarily philosophical, dealing with the apparent silence of God. The protagonist is a knight returning from the Crusades and questioning his faith. After he washes up on his homeland’s shores, Death appears to him in bodily form, but the knight challenges Death to a game of chess so that he can have enough time to perform one good deed before dying.

The film chronicles the next day or so of the knight’s life, as he and his squire observe the people around them. The Black Plague has struck hard, and its horrible effects are being blamed on everyone from supposed witches to widespread sin. Indeed, the film is literally interrupted part-way by a procession of chanting priests and wailing flagellants who stumble past, their eyes focused upwards or inwards but never outwards.

It’s a weird film. Every shot looks like a professional black-and-white photograph, creatively framed and intriguing. Ebert suggests that this is as much a silent film as a talkie, and I agree. While there’s plenty of dialogue, the film relies on visual storytelling. Bergman composes his shots so that the eye always has something new to feast upon.

It’s an unsettling film, too, but it’s supposed to be. It’s about the silence of God, after all, and the film has many awkward silences and still points. The characters seem always off-balance, like a mediocre Shakespearean company that can’t quite remember its lines. Some bluff their way through life, some ignore it, some struggle to make themselves heard or to understand. But everyone and everything in the film has a dream-like unreality.

I feel like I should finish this little review by explaining whether I liked or disliked it. Neither word applies to The Seventh Seal. You’re not supposed to like the silence of God, and this film makes it uncomfortable. It perfectly captures the nature of its subject matter. The film left me with a sense of disquiet, and I pondered the nature of God afterwards. How many films can do that?

Doodlehopper shook her head. “I’m not guarding your guy anymore.”

They both looked surprised, then the first thug said, “That doesn’t matter. They’ll come after you now anyway.”

She’d expected that. Groups with the cash and cajones to hire nutjobs like Grey Hackle always wanted every loose end tied up. She knew she’d continue to be a target; she’d just hoped she could get enough distance to keep the heat off…oh well.

She gave them hard looks, searching them. She couldn’t shake the impression of frightened kids. And from the looks of them, that’s pretty much what they were.

Finally she blew out a breath and said, “Give me the info on tonight’s attack. If it checks out, we’ll meet again here at, oh, ten tomorrow morning.”

Their faces lit up with hope and they nodded. The second one explained, “Tonight, you’ll be attacked by Zazun the Blade. He always attacks at night. He uses some sort of swords, but we don’t know what kind or even how many. He’s silent and not flashy at all. Usually kills very clean. But when things get messy, uhhh…so does he. I saw some of the cop photos. Blood and stuff everywhere. He’ll go after you first, then Aznable.”

She nodded, then stood. “I’ll be ready.”

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