When disillusioned Swedish knight Antonius Block returns home from the Crusades to find his country in the grips of the Black Death, he challenges chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague and seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God.
Essentially intellectual, yet emotionally stimulating, too, it is as tough -- and rewarding -- a screen challenge as the moviegoer has had to face this year.
Three Movie Buffs
January 17, 2012
90 minutes of iconic imagery, some deep questions and a surprising amount of humor. This is Art with a capital A, but that doesn't mean it's not entertaining at the same time, which only makes its artistry even greater.
It survives today only as an unusually pure example of a typical 50s art-film strategy: the attempt to make the most modern and most popular of art forms acceptable to the intelligentsia by forcing it into an arcane, antique mold.