Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Final Solution: Death Knocks?

Woody Allen did a famous parody of Bergman’s The Seventh Seal "Death Knocks," The New Yorker, 7/27/68). The original film which occurs during the plague or Black Death which infected Europe during the Middle Ages, deals with a knight (Max von Sydow) who plays chess with death. In fact, the game is a life and death matter. The title of the film derives from the Book of Revelation, “And when the Lamb had opened the seventh seal, there was a silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.”What’s striking is how serious and spot on the film now seems and how devoid of any potential for humor. With all the advances of modern science and medicine the coronavirus has reduced the whole planet to a state of ravaged helplessness. To some extent the effect is truly medieval. Hospitals can no longer handle the onslaught of patients and many people who thought they were impregnable are finding themselves face to face with the grim reaper. Now with social distancing, the average person is like the solitary knight confronting extinction every time he or she sets foot in a supermarket. Even a chess grandmaster is not going to be able to checkmate a pandemic of this magnitude.

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