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The Virgin Spring (Criterion Collection)

Max von Sydow , Birgitta Valberg , Ingmar Bergman    Unrated   DVD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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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.

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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.


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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to Bergman style Sept. 1 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Most Bergman novitiates will probably start with "The Seventh Seal," but "The Virgin Spring" is one of his most easily approachable films and a good intro for those unfamiliar with Bergman's ouevre. The film has more plot than later Bergman works, which makes it accesible for American audiences (indeed it won the Academy Award for Best foreign film). The story concerns the rape and murder of a young girl on her way to church, and the revenge exacted on her killers by the girl's family. Bergman took the idea from a Swedish folk ballad and transformed it into a dark medieval tale of murder, vengeance, religion, and finally, redemption and forgiveness. The film contains many items which are hallmarks of the Bergman style (overt use of symbolism, the questions of faith and the existence of God) as well as marking the early work of the incredible Sven Nykvist, Bergman's chief cinematographer. The scenes of violence are contrasted with scenes of tranquil beauty (Karin riding through the forest, the final tableau). Many critics regard this as a minor work in the Bergman canon. While that may be, it remains a dark, beautiful entry in a challenging body of work. It may be minor, but it's still Bergman.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Must See Experience March 24 2004
By 10za
Format:VHS Tape
Great photography!
Great Acting!
Great Story!
You will find yourself lost in this story about a father's revenge. The actors never let you think for a minute that you are not watching an actual film of medieval times.
There are a couple of very violent and disturbing scenes that are necessary for the story. All the lead actors are great. I especially liked the performance of the pregnant brunet girl who is jealous of Karin.
The filming makes you feel as if you are recalling a long forgotten memory or dream. Don't pass up the chance to see this film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Max Von Sydow & Ingmar Bergman at Their Best. Sept. 17 2001
By "vjer5"
Format:VHS Tape
This is the only foreign movie to win an Academy Award. Its in stark black and white during Medieval times. Lots of Pagan imagery.
Max comes across as the Norse god Odin full of vengeance. He's
down right scary when he goes after the 3 who raped and murdered his beautiful daughter.
You won't be able to take your eyes off that scene, or the rest of the movie for that matter.
This movie is an A+
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of Bergman's Best Feb. 18 2000
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This film (which won Best Foreign Film at the '59 Oscars) has to be considered one of Bergman;s best films. It has only minor references to the Christian church, but the scene where Max Von Sydow tries to take down the tree by himself is the highlight scene of the movie. A must see!
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