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Don’t Call Checkmate Just Yet

Existential gripes are the hallmark whimsies that the late director Ingmar Bergman adored and honed to perfection. The prolific Swedish virtuoso crafted countless cinematic gems under the Janus Films distributor label, including his gold-standard of radical arthouse, a little cerebral banquet called The Seventh Seal. This ol´ “chess game with Death” yarn is stuffed with trippy symbolism and flush with seriocomic riffs on scripture: basically, it’s avant-garde filmmaking at its finest.

This one’s got a woebegone knight (Max Von Sydow) and his endlessly cynical squire Jöns who’ve just returned from the Holy Crusades to their plague-ravaged, God-forsaken homeland. Confronted by a hooded Death, the knight bargains his life for a chess game, prolonging his own demise long enough to ponder whether God exists. And if that ain’t depressing enough, priests spout firebrand rhetoric about Judgment Day in the town market and hold fake crucifixions (it’s all so spiritually comforting). That brilliant touch comes courtesy of Bergman’s shrewdness behind the camera. Pay tribute to the late visionary by catching a Seal screening this evening at 6 p.m. at Cinema Paradiso (503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale). Tickets run $5 to $8. Call 954-525-3456, or visit
Mon., Aug. 20

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