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.