The knight in The Seventh Seal (1957), perhaps [Ingmar Bergman’s] most famous film, is a tenacious and tortured seeker, who wants to believe. His shield-bearer is somewhat cynical and incredulous, although also compassionate. Like a revisited Don Quijote and Sancho Panza of Miguel Cervantes, they face Death itself, horrendous, devious and relentless…
DEATH: You want guarantees?
KNIGHT: Call it whatever you like. Is it so cruelly inconceivable to grasp God with the senses? Why should He hide himself in a mist of half-spoken promises and unseen miracles? (DEATH doesn’t answer.)
KNIGHT: How can we have faith in those who believe when we can’t have faith in ourselves? What is going to happen to those of us who want to believe but aren’t able to? And what is to become of those who neither want to nor are capable of believing? (The KNIGHT stops and waits for a reply, but no one speaks or answers him. There is complete silence.)
KNIGHT: Why can’t I kill God within me? Why does He live on in this painful and humiliating way even though I curse Him and want to tear Him out of my heart? Why, in spite of everything, is He a baffling reality that I can’t shake off? Do you hear me? DEATH: Yes, I hear you. KNIGHT: I want knowledge, not faith, not suppositions, but knowledge. I want God to stretch out His hand towards me, reveal Himself and speak to me.
DEATH: But He remains silent.
KNIGHT: I call out to Him in the dark but no one seems to be there.
DEATH: Perhaps no one is there.
KNIGHT: Then life is an outrageous horror. No one can live in the face of death, knowing that all is nothingness.
DEATH: Most people never reflect about either death or the futility of life.