Other Sellers on Amazon
Criterion Collection, Special Edition
$0.32 extra savings coupon applied at checkout.
Sorry. You are not eligible for this coupon.
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
Winner of the Academy Award for best foreign-language film, Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring is a harrowing tale of faith, revenge, and savagery in medieval Sweden. With austere simplicity, the director tells the story of the rape and murder of the virgin Karin, and her father Töre’s ruthless pursuit of vengeance, set in motion after the killers visit the family’s farmhouse. Starring frequent Bergman collaborator and screen icon Max von Sydow, the film is both beautiful and cruel in its depiction of a world teetering between paganism and Christianity.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
• Audio commentary from 2005 by Ingmar Bergman scholar Birgitta Steene
• New video interviews from 2005 with actors Gunnel Lindblom and Birgitta Pettersson
• Introduction by filmmaker Ang Lee from 2005
• An audio recording of a 1975 American Film Institute seminar by director Ingmar Bergman
• Alternate English-dubbed soundtrack
• PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by film scholar Peter Cowie and screenwriter Ulla Isaksson and the medieval ballad on which the film is based
Showing 1-7 of 7 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
“The Virgin Spring” is unrelentingly bleak for a 1960 film, even by today’s standards. “Psycho” and “Peeping Tom” gathered more press for pushing the envelope for what is acceptable in film that year, but this film seems to me like it should have been equally disturbing to contemporary audiences.
It may be a difficult watch for some and (apart from “Hour of the Wolf”) is the closest Ingmar Bergman has ever come to making a horror movie. Bergman plays up the suspense for all its worth, and even though we know what’s going to happen, it is somehow still suspenseful.
Visually and thematically it is one of Bergman’s most accomplished and resonant works with great performances from all actors involved. In fact, even though I’m not in love with the subject matter, I prefer it to “The Seventh Seal” and “Persona” (as great as those two films are). I love this film.
Where I am downgrading this edition of “The Virgin Spring” is in the blu-ray we are presented with by Criterion here. While the new 2K digital restoration is the best this film has ever looked, the special features are not nearly as abundant as on other Criterion releases. After having thoroughly enjoyed the numerous special features on “The Seventh Seal” and “Persona”, a brief introduction, a pair of brief interviews and an audio recording of Bergman seemed inconsequential to me.
That being said however, the movie is so great and the restoration is so clear, that this Criterion Collection release still deserves to be in the collection of people who love Bergman’s movies and other art-house films from that era. I don’t regret the purchase. I just wish there was more being offered. Four solid stars.
The movie features Max Von Sydow as Christian Per Töre, a landowner in medieval Sweden who has converted to Christianity with his wife Märeta (Birgitta Valberg). They have a young daughter named Karin who we see early on is indulged being the apple of her father’s eye. Living in the same house is Ingeri (Gunnel Lindblom), a peasant serf of the family who resents them and has a reputation that has left her pregnant.
With a holy day coming Karin is assigned the task of taking candles to the nearby church. Anxious to go she dresses in her finest clothes and asks that Ingeri accompany her. With hate in her eyes Ingeri goes along until they reach a stream before entering the nearby forest. Afraid for some reason she remains behind with the man who owns mill at the stream. When he attempts to assault her she runs after the long gone Karin.
As she makes her way through the forest Karin comes across three herdsmen, brothers, and offers to share her lunch with them. They lead her to a field and as lunch progresses she senses danger from the three. Before she can escape them they’re on her and rape her. When she tries to run afterward, one clubs her to death. As this all happens Ingeri watches from the wood, never helping. The men steal the fine clothes Karin was wearing and leave her behind in the woods.
Back at the homestead Christian and his wife worry about their young daughter when she doesn’t return, but not overly so. She’s stayed in town before. As it grows dark the three herdsmen show at the house completely unaware that this is the home of Karin. They’re invited in and provided a meal and shelter with the potential of work. During the night however Märeta finds her daughter’s clothing among their things. Ingeri returns and tells them what happened. Events are set in motion from that point that will forever change them all.
Most people will have already known the story of this film with it being over 50 years old now but I decided not to reveal the final portion of the film. That’s difficult to do because some of the most striking images are contained there. If you watch the film on the Criterion edition you’ll see what I mean and also hear in the extras some of the things I can’t quite refer to here.
The story is stark and brutal but there’s no other way to depict what occurs. That this much was shown (though no real skin makes it to the screen) in 1960 is stunning in itself. But the brutal act of rape is on display and the murder after while quick is also heightened by the way the body is ransacked and left totally exposed to the world. It’s upsetting and yet at the same time not nearly as much so as later films depicting the same act have been. LAST HOUSE that I referenced earlier or even the rape in DEATH WISH are much more upsetting. But the naïve attitude of Karin and her soft beauty make it an unbearable act in this film. What comes later at the hands of a grieving father is equally disturbing and yet done in such a manner as to truly be considered artistic.
The movie in its entirety itself is gorgeous. Cinematographer Sven Nykvist did an amazing job with the stark black and white photography shown here. This was the first film he did with Bergman and they collaborated on many more after. The clarity of the Criterion version here is amazing. As an example a scene early on of Ingeri that’s backlit shows the fine strands of stray hair completely visible in the picture. And being shot in black and white actually helps the movie rather than hinder it.
To be honest this is the first film by Bergman I’ve had the opportunity to watch. The only reason I can explain for that as someone who loves all things film is that I’ve never had access to any of his films, even taking classes in film. I’d always heard his films were somber affairs and judging from this one I couldn’t argue that. I’d need to see more to believe or deny that. When he began making films of a more serious nature Woody Allen said that Bergman was a big influence on him. I can see that in some sense but again, without seeing more wouldn’t begin to say that’s correct or not.
Criterion has offered the film here with the respect that it deserves beginning with a 2k digital restoration of the film that as I said earlier is amazing. In addition to that they’ve included several extras worthy of mention. Those include an audio commentary by Bergman scholar Birgitta Steene, an introduction by Ang Lee from 2005 describing the influence the film had on him, an audio recording of a 1975 American Film Institute seminar by Bergman, an alternate English dubbed soundtrack for those who don’t favor subtitles and a booklet featuring essays by film scholar Peter Cowie and screenwriter Ulla Isaksson and the medieval ballad on which the film is based.
Criterion has done a bang up job on this release and it’s nice knowing that such a copy exists for those who wish to explore the movie and the films of Bergman. This will be edition that fans will want to add to their collection. Film students would bode well to pick this up too. And movie lovers might want to give this a watch to discover Bergman.