Chess pieces from The Seventh Seal sell for € 97,710

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Seventh Seal Chess PiecesThe pieces with which a medieval knight played chess against Death in Ingmar Bergman's famous The Seventh Seal (1957) have been sold on Tuesday for one million Swedish crowns (€ 97,710; $142,353), says auction house Bukowski's.

The chess pieces were just one of 337 items, including film prizes and awards, that belonged to Bergman and were auctioned on Tuesday in Stockholm for a total of 18 million Swedish crowns (€ 1,787,7136; $ 2,604,519).

Bergman's 1957 film The Seventh Seal is about the journey of a medieval knight (Max von Sydow) across a plague-ridden landscape, and a monumental game of chess between himself and the personification of Death (Bengt Ekerot), who has come to take his life. The chess pieces used in the famous scene were one of the items in the auction:

Seventh Seal Chess Pieces


A review on IMDB, where The Seventh Seal is ranked as the 104th best film ever made, describes it as follows:

Antonius Block - "Who are you?" Death - "I am Death." Antonius Block - "Have you come for me?" Death - "I have long walked by your side." Antonius Block - "So I have noticed."

The Seventh Seal, considered by some to be Ingmar Bergman's greatest achievement, is the desperate prayer of a sensitive, introspective, and insightful young man confused by the horrors of the world around him. Ingmar Bergman's films are often very deep, full of symbolism, philosophy, spirituality, emotion, and thought. The Seventh Seal is classic Bergman. Expressing his fear of life with no meaning, death with no understanding, and faith with no validity, Ingmar Bergman takes us deep into the well of his mind.

As the Black Plague ravages the world, a Antonius Block and his squire, Jons (Max Von Sydow and Gunnar Bjornstrand, respectively), return from fighting in the Crusades. They find their homeland devastated by the plague, their countrymen mad with fear, and their cause lost. Antonius Block is confronted by Death (Bengt Ekerot). Block challenges Death to a game of chess to provide him time to seek answers to the questions that plague his mind as Death has plagued his country. Death accepts, knowing that Block cannot escape his fate, and the two begin their game. As the story continues, Block and Jons meet with several testaments to the agony that the Black Death has brought upon their land. They find a young girl who is to be burned at the stake for having been with the Devil. They find madness in the eyes of all they meet, as everyone is convinced that God is angry and is punishing the world with the plague. They also find a small group of travelling actors, who appear to be the only souls to have remained sane in the midst of all of the death and fear. Block and Jons move across the countryside in the hopes of finding safety in Block's castle, but Death is always around the corner, biding his time.

Brilliantly conceived, and stunningly executed, Bergman's vision is brought to the screen through Gunnar Fischer's powerful cinematography creating images that will likely remain with you for the rest of your life. Strong performances from everyone involved bring humanity to the film. Max Von Sydow's brave and conflicted Antonius Block matching wits with Bengt Ekerot's sinister, omnipotent Death is a microcosm of the forces at work in this breath-taking interpretation of the mortal struggle.

A masterpiece!

Seventh Seal Chess Pieces

The white pieces (of which the king was missing), used by the knight in the film | picture Bukowski's

Seventh Seal Chess Pieces

The black pieces, used by Death in the film | picture Bukowski's

The Seventh Seal is considered a major classic of world cinema, which helped Bergman to establish himself as a world-renowned director. Wikipedia has a big entry, which describes the role of chess as follows:

The chess game opens with the knight holding out his two fists and Death choosing the black pawn ("You are black", says Block. "It suits me well." replies Death). The first moves of each use the king's pawn. In the confessional, the knight says "I use a combination of the bishop and the knight which he hasn't yet discovered. In the next move I'll shatter one of his flanks." Death (in disguise as the priest) replies "I'll remember that." When they play by the beach, the knight says: "Because I revealed my tactics to you I'm in retreat. It's your move." Death takes the knight piece. "You did the right thing" states the knight "you fell right in the trap. Check! Don't worry about my laughter, save your king instead." Death's response is to lean over the chess board and make a psychological move "Are you going to escort the juggler and his wife through the forest? Those whose names are Jof and Mia and who have a small son." "Why do you ask?" says the knight. "Oh, no reason" replies Death. Immediately after the death of the robber Raval, Death raises his hand and strikes the knight's queen. "I didn't notice that" says the knight.[ This is portrayed as a major setback. However, the queen was not as powerful as it currently is until many centuries after the time period of this film, when a chess-variant initially called "chess of the mad queen" became more popular than the traditional game. In one of the last scenes, the knight pretends to knock over the pieces so the young family of jugglers can escape while Death is reconstructing the game. "You are mated on the next move, Antonius Block" says Death. "That's true" says the knight. "Did you enjoy your reprieve?" "Yes, I did" Block replies.

The influential body of work of Ingmar Bergman, who died in 2007 at the age of 89, often dealt with themes such as bleakness and despair, as well as comedy and hope, in his cinematic exploration of the human condition. Described by Woody Allen as "probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture camera", he is recognized as one of the most accomplished and influential film makers of modern cinema. For the fans of classic cinema: it seems that the whole film The Seventh Seal has been posted on YouTube.


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