It has been seven years since I watched “The Seventh Seal“. The UC Theater in Berkeley, which closed in 2001, offered a veritable feast of movies I had been starved of in India – a different ‘art’ movie 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 the emotional layers, reaching into a place movies almost never do.
Is his death the final seal on a generation of directors, who, along with Vittorio De Sica, Akira Kurosawa, and Satyajit Ray, made movie as music? Or am I simply too old fashioned, and ill-informed to discover the same intensity in most new cinema? Or is it that this age of information and sensory overload, doesn’t allow the mental space required for absorbing a sumptuous movie? 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 laid on directors who force us to a see reality in its myriad forms.