The Seventh Seal Movie Poster Image

The Seventh Seal



Symbolism-filled classic a tough sell for kids.
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 96 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A truly chivalrous knight, Antonius, is tortured by his doubts over the existence of God, but he still strives to forestall Death -- ultimately, as a sort of sacrifice so others under his protection can escape. Though other characters are deeply flawed -- scalawags, cynics, adulterers, drunkards -- it's the devoted characters who escape. Antonius' cynical squire talks trash about religion, love, and his own wife (whom he assumes is dead and casually takes a village woman as a replacement), though even he strives to do right, in a strictly secular way.


Brutality threatened, but rarely any shown directly, except once with a man slashed across the face. Religious fanatics whip themselves in a procession. A relatively mild scene of a dazed girl (allegedly tortured), accused of witchcraft, facing execution by being burned at the stake. A scene with an eyeless, decayed corpse.


A character sings a bawdy song, and there's an adulterous affair, but the serious stuff is offscreen.


"Hell" used in the dialogue.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters get drunk in a tavern.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that while there are elements of the mystical here (and Death himself is a character), this classic will disappoint viewers expecting something like a horror-fantasy movie. It's wordy and philosophical, and it concerns the search for God and the existential dread that He may not exist. Traditional church-based Christianity is scorned by some characters. This film is not to be confused with the Demi Moore horror film The Seventh Sign, especially.

What's the story?

After returning home to Scandinavia, Crusades-fighting knight Antonius (Max Von Sydow) is met by a pale-faced black-robed man, none other than Death. Not at all startled, Antonius challenges Death to a chess match, with his own survival the prize if he wins. The game takes place throughout the film's episodic storyline. We learn that Antonius is secretly in spiritual agony, his faith struggling against a violent world, filled with superstition, plague, and doom. He didn't find God while fighting in the Holy Land. In fact, Antonius learns that the clergyman who persuaded him to leave his wife for the Crusades is now a wretched excuse for a human being. En route to his long-neglected wife and castle, Antonius accompanies and protects fellow vagabonds, chiefly a small, fun-loving acting troupe run by a young husband and wife, Joseph and Mia.

Is it any good?


Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal concerns the monumental theme of a painful search for God, and has contributed some immortal moments to cinema. Joseph claims to see visions, like the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child, and Bergman seems to be suggesting if there is any God at all, the artists and creative types (including filmmakers?) are nearer the truth than the usual suspects. Characters grumble about the perilous times they live in, and many themes of The Seventh Seal, the wrestlings with religious doubt, are meaningful for the present, as Bergman intended.

Kids who are into medieval re-enactments and Renaissance fairs might be persuaded to see this. Harry Potter fans who notice a connection between this and the final book where Death plays a role may also raise an eyebrow. But it's still a tough sell.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the many layers of symbolism, parable, and meaning here. Ask kids what parallels they see in Ingmar Berman's Middle Ages shown here -- the plagues, the fears, the predictions that it's the "end times" -- and today, when some predict pretty much the same thing. Is there a proof of God or salvation after all in the movie's plot? Do you agree with Bergman that artists and actors are closer to the divine than the priests and the heroic knights? For Harry Potter fans, how is the character Death the same or different than the one depicted in the "Deathly Hallows" story within the final book?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 7, 2007
DVD/Streaming release date:January 26, 1999
Cast:Bibi Andersson, Inga Gill, Max von Sydow
Director:Ingmar Bergman
Studio:Criterion Collection
Run time:96 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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Teen, 15 years old Written bycaatherine April 12, 2014

pretty darn good if you ask me,

This is a fantastic film however kids may not appreciate it as it is french, has subtitles and is in black and white. Personally I watched it when I was 9 years old and I thought it was swell. So watch it, you won't regret it!
Teen, 13 years old Written by4kidshater July 5, 2010

A very great swedish classic movie. A very great movie.

A very good movie. It's sorta graphic due to the face getting cut scene, but is appropriate for 12+. It's a good triumphs over evil movie. I like better in swedish(like norway as a 7th country) i like it. I rated this an Austin review collectors series
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written bythenoah March 22, 2013

One of the Greatest Films Ever Made

This film is absolute perfection from beginning to end. It is poignant, dark, and deep. It is also the greatest fantasy movie ever made. There is nothing innapropriate, it is just dark and bleak.
What other families should know
Great messages