Everyone always said that The Seventh Seal, Bergman's 1957 meditation on death (and the film that made him a star) was a film about a man playing chess with Death. Um, okay, so Max Von Sydow does play chess with Death, but the film isn't about a dance with death or anything like that. Von Sydow isn't even the star of the film.
Instead, The Seventh Seal is a very cool and intriguing meditation on how each of us deals with death, how we run from it, the different ways we try to stave it off. It's also filled with all kinds of atheist meditations about the alleged afterlife and asks moral questions about saving lives and causing deaths and the ludicrousness of religious fervor in the face of death. It's an intriguing, beautifully shot film with a great ending and some lovely poetic moments. Gunnar Björnstrand, the film's star (he plays Von Sydow's squire) is wonderful: skeptical, practical and filled with hate, both for his master and most of the people around him, and yet truly compassionate and generous. It's a wonderful role and the actor is great.
Truth be told, the bits with Death and the chessboard were all kind of silly, almost laughable. I couldn't help chuckling at the first scene with Death on the beach. All I could think of was Woody Allen's Love and Death. Allen loves Bergman and his spoof of The Seventh Seal is an ingenious one. At any rate, I quite liked the film, mostly because it wasn't at all what I was expecting.
P.S. I'm currently reading some Charles Busch plays (The Lady in Question, Psycho Beach Party, Vampire Lesbians of Sodom). This shit is hilarious.