I’ve been tapped to teach a survey class on Western Civilization from the Middle Ages to the French Revolution, and have been putting together my lesson plans. This inspired me to buy a copy of Ingmar Bergman’s superb 1957 The Seventh Seal — a movie about a Crusader returned home after ten years, disillusioned with life and doubting his faith (played by Max von Sydow.) On the beach, he is met by Death, and convinces him to play a game of chess in an attempt to forestall his demise.

The movie deals with the effects of the Black Plague on the people: the belief that they were being punished by God, the collapse of faith, and the fear of everything in the minds of the 14th Century people. It’s a spectacular bit of filmmaking, and an excellent primer for someone running a Middle Ages style campaign.

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