I don’t find myself at the movie theaters very often lately. Many people complain about the price but for me it is an entirely different issue. I see Hollywood pushing things on us like Adam Sandler’s latest exploitation known as Jack and Jill, or re branding something like The Smurfs and it makes me sick. Sacrificing artistic integrity for the sake of a quick buck isn’t new to the film industry. I am not saying that there are not some modern movies that are compelling, but I am disappointed to see a lack of deeper themes and original content within its borders.
For example, recently I sat down to watch a film in the Criterion Collection known as The Seventh Seal and I was very impressed. Released in 1957 by Ingmar Bergman the film shows the exploits of a knight returning from the crusades who begins playing a game of chess with death in order to earn a reprieve. Gone are the trappings of modern cinema. No sacrifices are made for a cheap laugh, although this film had a surprisingly rich sense of humor. Deep themes are explored in this 90 minute masterpiece, such as the nature of faith, love, and the implications of death. For a surrealist film shot in black and white that explores the nature of faith and death, it still manages to show the light of life and even get a laugh every once in a while. In the end it shows us that death is the grand arbiter, making all of us equal.
Ingmar Bergman is widely considered to be one of the most influential film makers of our time, having shot over 40 feature films of considerable depth, and written over 170 plays for the stage and radio. In times like this when a good movie is hard to come by we can look back fondly on classic cinema such as the works of Bergman and hope for brighter days.