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The Virgin Spring (The Criterion Collection)
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The Virgin Spring is set in medieval Sweden, a time when Christianity was ascendant, but some people still prayed to their old pagan gods. In the opening scene, Ingeri, a foster daughter, invokes Odin to call down a curse on Karin, the favored only child. In the next scene, we see the patriarch Tore (Max Von Sydow) and his wife Mareta (Birgitta Valberg) praying to a lurid statue of Christ on the cross. The rest of the movie goes deep into this tension between the forbearance of Jesus and the bloody justice of the Norse pagan gods.
The story, based on a 13th century Swedish ballad, is simple and stark. Karin, accompanied by Ingeri, sets off to deliver some candles to the church. While riding through the woods they get separated. Ingeri meets an old hermit, a pantheist, who shows her his secret stash of magic relics. Repulsed, she flees deeper into the forest. Karin meets two goatherds and their younger brother, and offers to share her lunch with them. They lead the naïve girl to a glade by a stream, and there they rape and murder her. They strip her of her fine clothing, intending to sell it, and flee.
Unfortunately for them, the first farm they come to is Tore's. Unaware of what has happened, Tore gives them dinner and a bed for the night. After dinner, the goatherds offer Karin's blood stained dress for sale to her mother. Hiding her shock, she hurries away to tell Tore.Read more ›
What at first may seem an ordinary tale becomes a sublime morality play, thanks to director Ingmar Bergman's incorporation of symbolic images, psychological tension and imaginative cinemagraphic techniques, fittingly designed so as to complement cameraman Sven Nykvist natural, three-dimensional style. Bergman then puts this all to great effect by pitting Christian virtues of kindness, purity and familial love against the savagery and superstitions of Norse paganism.
He portrays New Testament symbols through the patriarch Tore (Max von Sydow) reciting grace while sitting at the centre of the dining table in a manner reminiscent of Da Vinci's portrait of The Last Supper. His wife Margeta's (Birgitta Valberg) piety is shown when she prays before a crucifix, then inflicts pain upon herself to suffer Christ's agony. Their daughter Karin's (Birgitta Pettersson) innocence is reflected in a clean-faced girl dressed in a silken dress made by "fifteen seamstresses" and the grace she recites before the goatherds when she breaks and shares bread with them.
In contrast, paganism is portrayed in the pregnant foster sister Ingeri (Gunnel Lindblom) whose face is besmirched and dressed in an unadorned and dirty garment. She curses Karin by invoking the Norse god of death and war Odin, then places a toad in a loaf of bread (symbols of death and the devil), not so much out of pagan ritual, but jealousy and spite of her.Read more ›
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
This is a very inspiring film. I'm reading the reviews and professional criticisms online, and there is certainly quite a bit to this film! Read morePublished 12 months ago by Blue Rabbit
If you are a serious film goer, this one has to be seen, along with all of Bergman's works. Shocking and brilliant. Note the camera work.. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Daniel G. Madigan
DISAPPOINTED WITH THIS ONE. AFTER VIEWING HIS OTHER INCOMPREHENSIBLE MESSES I WAS EXPECTTING SOMETHING ATROCIOUS.
THIS WAS WORSE.
Directed by Ingmar Bergman, this film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1959. . The film's themes -revenge and redemprion- are explored as powerfully as... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Thomas J Lombardo
This film, based on a medieval ballad, was directed by Ingmar Bergman- one of the greatest directors in film history. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Tony Marquise Jr.
Very good performance by Max Von Sydow and a good representation of pre Christian Scandinavia. Story takes place in Sweden. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Siobhan
Who is a`Bergman junkie and his VHS copy had worn out....i saw these so many years ago and may re-borrow it back!Published 22 months ago by Michael Bruchas
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