I waited to watch The Seventh Seal again until I had recovered from my cold.  I wanted to concentrate on Bergman without having a sinus headache pulping my gray matter.  Also, no watching films about the bubonic plague while your head feels like a fishbowl full of mucus or films about Death while you feel His cold, clammy hand pressing on your chest, creating phlegm the color of algae.

As well, Matthew didn’t feel like Bergman tonight, so, together, we watched Hot Fuzz first. The gunplay and charming English countryside distracted him as I surreptitiously opened my new Blu-Ray of The Seventh Seal.

“Look at those lovely serpentine stone walls.  Is that crinkling cellophane I hear?”

“No.”  Cough, cough.  “Isn’t Simon Pegg adorable?”  (I actually didn’t say that last part but thought it through most of the film.)

In any case, I’m not one to bite the Blu-Ray that feeds me.  Both the Blu-Ray player and the new 40″ flat screen on which to watch Blu-Rays were surprises that Matthew had bought for the house while I was away in Wyoming.  And while we’re still too cheap to buy cable television, we get plenty of use out of the vivid contrasts of the screen.  And when I say “we,” I mean mostly me.

But I didn’t hook up the Blu-Ray player to the television until yesterday, because we don’t yet have a receiver and speaker system for the surround sound.  A ridiculously-heavy expense for something down the line, I suppose.  But we both were eager to see the Blu-Ray in action, so last night, I inserted the HDMI cables and popped in Howards End.  We were duly impressed.  And Matthew, once again, got to see beautiful English country estates in high-definition, the way God intended.

Tonight, though, instead of idyllic meadows, I got the rocky Swedish coastline and Max von Sydow at his broodingiest and most faith-wracked.  And though I, like many, have lumped Bergman in with the directors who specialize in large servings of portentousness, with a side order of despair (if I’m ever trapped in Sweden, I’ll be at least able to call out, “Doom, doom, doom!” like the monk during the flagellation scene), I forget how Bergman uses humor to punctuate the more dire sequences.

I worry that my non-Christian upbringing has left me cold to movies and books with strong Christian themes, symbolism or imagery. I had to abandon Marilynne Robinson’s Home a few chapters in because I couldn’t connect to it.  Boy, this cuts me out of the loop for most of Western literature and art, doesn’t it?  Still, when it comes to grand existential and spiritual questions, I’m afraid I have to lean with Jöns, the squire, in this case:  “I’ll stay quiet, but under protest.”

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