Friday, January 07, 2005

The Seventh Seal

"Why must we live?".

Bergman greatly admired the work of the Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky and said that Tarkovsky was able to enter and move freely in rooms, which remained inaccesible to him (Bergman). The reason for this is simple: Tarkovsky never abandoned his quest for a connection with God, and greatness for any artist (as well as any human being) is determined solely on the basis of this quest. (It goes without saying that what mankind considers "great" is of no importance in Creation at large.) With objective examination of cinema (and all art) a crystal-clear pattern emerges: whenever an artist earnestly seeks a connection with God, he produces great works of art; whenever an artist abandons this search, his works become marked by triviality, narrowness of vision and, very often, baseness.

"My whole life has been a meaningless search," declares the knight in The Seventh Seal. He assumes that because his search has turned up nothing, there is nothing to find. It doesn't seem to occur to him that there is another possibility: he has been searching in the wrong way and/or in the wrong places. "Seek and ye shall find," is not only a promise - it is, first of all, a demand directed towards us: SEEK! Without that - nothing. If, therefore, we end up with nothing at the end of our quest, then the only logical conclusion is that our manner of seeking has been wrong and that alone led us into a dead end. This natural conclusion, however, rarely occurs to any of us; perhaps, because it requires personal courage and severe self-examination. Not everyone is capable of or willing to summon up these qualities at the right moment.


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