Winner of the 1961 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring is a harrowing tale of faith, revenge, and savagery in medieval Sweden. Starring Bergman stalwart and screen icon Max von Sydow, the film is both beautiful and cruel in its depiction of a world teetering between the sacred and the profane and one father's longing to avenge the murder of a child.
Made in 1960 and set in medieval Sweden, Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring
is based on a folk ballad. It also examines a society in transition from Norse pantheism to Christianity. The film starkly contrasts Ingeri--a dark, feral, Odin-worshipping foster daughter to a Christian family headed by Max Von Sydow--and their own daughter, a pretty and blond but also vain and naïve girl named Karin, whom Ingeri resents. They travel out together to a distant church where Karin is to offer votive candles to the Virgin Mary. However, en route, Karin is raped and murdered by two desperate goatherds, accompanied by a 13-year-old boy. By coincidence, the goatherds then seek refuge with Karin's parents and even try to sell them her clothes, which proves to be a mortal error.
Bergman was greatly influenced by Akira Kurosawa when he made The Virgin Spring, as evinced in its ominous use of dark and shade and lengthy sequences without dialogue. However, this is more than pastiche. Although the Christian ending with which Bergman feels obliged to conclude the film doesn't quite sit well in a movie in which God is as palpably absent as in any Bergman movie, the slow, remorseless pace of the murder and subsequent retribution bring to mind Krzysztof Kieslowski's A Short Film About Killing in their sense of the futility of vengeance. --David Stubbs
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.