The Virgin Spring (1960)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB

Original title:  Jungfrukallan

Sweden, 1960.  Svensk Filmindustri.  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by Ingmar Bergman, .  Music by . Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

An old Swedish legend is turned into gorgeous baroque drama by Ingmar Bergman in this deservedly famous, Oscar-winning film.  A medieval landowner (Max von Sydow) sends his dewy, beautiful daughter on horseback to the church across the other side of the woods to light a candle, with a resentful, heavily pregnant servant sent alongside her.  En route to her destination, our heroine is raped and murdered by nefarious herdsmen, who then wander the land and come upon von Sydow’s fortress looking for shelter.  They have no idea who they have come to seek help from, but when the truth comes out, the thirst for vengeance is the only taste this tale can enjoy.  What transpires is something wholly captivating and eventually uplifting, particularly in the magical finale, but what’s most impressive is not just the frankness with which the story is told but also the efficiency.  Bergman covers plenty of narrative territory with little dialogue and no unnecessary turns of plot, plumbing the depths of the human soul in ninety short minutes and getting plenty of visual and emotional richness out of a story that is essentially a scary bedtime story to encourage young women to keep an eye peeled.

The Criterion Collection:  #321

Academy Award:  Best Foreign Language Film
Nomination: Best Costume Design-BW

Cannes Film Festival:  Special Mention

Golden Globe Award:  Samuel Goldwyn Award

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