Even if you haven’t seen this film, you know of its most famous scene, the one in which Death plays a knight recently returned from the Crusades in an seaside chess match. The plague has ravaged the land. Yet as long as the game continues, the knight can remain alive. It doesn’t really matter, though, because Death always wins in the end, doesn’t he? This Criterion cover — simple, stark — conveys that same truth with nothing but light and shadow. The face of Max von Sydow, who plays the knight, is slowly disappearing into darkness. One could also interpret the image in reverse, by saying that his face is emerging into the light. If that is the case, though, it’s a pitifully small light. The meaning remains the same.