The Virgin Spring (Criterion Collection)
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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.
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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Top Customer Reviews
amazing photography by Sven Nykvest. It also boasts one of Max Von
Sydow's most powerful performances - which is saying a lot.
Set in a medieval world like 'The Seventh Seal', but here the questions
of guilt, god, right and wrong are simpler and less symbolic, and to me
ring truer and more emotional.
Not that the film doesn't have it's fair share of symbolism. This is
still Bergman. But those symbolic gestures feel more a part of a larger
story. instead of the point.
Some of the supporting performances aren't quite up to Von Sydow's and
a couple of key moments felt a bit contrived, but this is a very tense,
intense, disturbing and emotional look at one family from another time
dealing with issues that are still all too familiar. Indeed there's
almost a feeling of horror film about it at moments, and it is,
amazingly, sighted as the uncredited basis for Wes Craven's 'The Last
House on the Left'!
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.
Most recent customer reviews
'The Virgin Spring' is a good story about a father trying to avenge the rape and murder of his daughter. It is a good story, but not something which will blow your mind.Published on Dec 7 2003 by Dhaval Vyas
This is the only foreign movie to win an Academy Award. Its in stark black and white during Medieval times. Lots of Pagan imagery. Read morePublished on Sept. 17 2001
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