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Existentialism In "The Seventh Seal" Essay

4152 words - 17 pages

How are existentialist themes conveyed in Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal"?Investigative Study2009Introduction"The Seventh Seal" (1957) was the work that established Ingmar Bergman as an internationally prominent auteur. Undoubtedly it is a film that deals with deeply religious and metaphysical issues of the human soul in search of God and meaning and is to this day one of the most outstanding films to tackle these themes. "The Seventh Seal" has long been hailed as an existentialist film by critics and audiences worldwide. In this dissertation I intend to have a closer look into how the themes connected to the existentialist philosophy arise and are represented in "The Seventh Seal".In the first part I will have an overview of existentialism, its emergence and influences as well as give an account on the key existentialist themes.The second part will be an analysis of the film from the perspective of existentialism and how it can be applied to the film.In the final part I will conclude my study and summarize the analysis carried out in the former parts of the dissertation.ExistentialismThe term "existentialism" was explicitly adopted as a self-description by Jean-Paul Sartre, and through the wide dissemination of the postwar literary and philosophical output of Sartre and his associates-notably Simone de Beauvoir, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Albert Camus-existentialism became identified with a cultural movement that flourished in Europe in the 1940s and 1950s. Among the major philosophers identified as existentialists (many of whom-for instance Camus and Heidegger-repudiated the label) were Karl Jaspers, Martin Heidegger, and Martin Buber in Germany, Jean Wahl and Gabriel Marcel in France, the Spaniards José Ortega y Gasset and Miguel de Unamuno, and the Russians Nicholai Berdyaev and Lev Shestov. Such names from the nineteenth century as Soren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche came to be seen as precursors for the movement, which is as much a literary phenomenon as a philosophical one. Sartre's own ideas were and are better known through his fictional works than through his more purely philosophical ones and the postwar years found a very diverse range of writers and artists linked under the term existentialism.That makes defining existentialism somewhat problematic. It is sometimes suggested that existentialism just is this bygone cultural movement rather than an identifiable philosophical position; or that the term should be restricted to Sartre's philosophy alone. But while a philosophical definition of existentialism may not entirely ignore the cultural side of the term, and while Sartre's thought must have large influence on any account of existentialism, the concept does pick out a distinctive cluster of philosophical problems and helpfully identifies a relatively distinct current of twentieth- and now twenty-first century philosophical inquiry, one that has had significant impact on fields such as theology and psychology. What...

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