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on 14 December 2011
Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring, is based on the disturbing 13th century Swedish ballad, Töres döttrar i Wänge, that deals with the conflicts between paganism, christianity and the belief in what is right or wrong. It tells the tale of a wealthy father and mother, whose daughter is violently raped and killed by goat herders, unknowingly in front of her Oden worshiping half sister. After deserting their victims body, they seek shelter and food from aristocrats. However, this was the dead girls family, whom upon discovering the peasants secret, take their revenge.

The Virgin Spring is often thought to be a companion piece for The Seventh Seal and there is similarities between them, however they are also very different as well. Although The Seventh Seal is very sinister, The Virgin Spring is far more dark due to it's realistic story. There are no supernatural themes as there are in The Seventh Seal, making this film in a way, more believable.

Max Von Sydow and Birgitta Valberg are wonderful as the parents, conveying their characters emotions brilliantly. Sven Nykvist's cinematography is exceptional, beautifully shot in stunning black and white and the screenplay is excellent, with Bergman's poetic style.

An unsettling examination on morals, good and evil, this is one of the great masterpieces of Ingmar Bergman and an outstanding contribution to cinema.

Special Features: Star and Director Filmographies, The Bergman Collection Trailer, Stills Gallery and Phillip Strick Film Notes.

Video Aspect Ratio: Original Academy Ratio
Feature Length: 86 mins
Language: Swedish
Subtitles: English
Certificate: 15
Region 0
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on 26 March 2001
This masterpiece by Bergman is one of his finest. Despite being banned in many countries outside of Sweden for years, this uncut version reveals the heinous crime of rape. Max von Sydow plays the father of Karin the virgin, who exacts his revenge in a demonaic manner. I know that many people are put off by Bergman because of his dark and disturbing portrayal of life, but this film is a must for all fans of European cinema.
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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 13 November 2002
Bergman was on peak form in the late 1950's, early 1960's making such classics as Summer with Monika, The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Through a Glass Darkly & The Magician. The Virgin Spring ranks along with these; I first saw this when terrestrial TV used to broadcast seasons on key directors (hey, now we have Fame Academy & Big Brother. Great. )and it struck me as a blend of the magical and the real.
I had heard of this, as Wes Craven's infamous Last House on the Left (still banned as far as I'm aware in this country)- which was a slasher/horror remake of this. The story is based on medieval legend, though Little Red Riding Hood will spring to mind.
The story is as good as any Shakespeare in terms of theme and morality- the denoument demonstrates the true nature of man- the pagan sense of revenge and the violence beneath the so-called civilised.
Max Von Sydow and Birgitta Valberg are great here, though it is Sven Nykvist's photography that stays with you after seeing the film. The Virgin Spring is a dark classic that is a treasure and a joy to watch on DVD- hardly something you can level at Dude, Where's My Car or Purely Belter.
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on 9 August 2004
This film enages on so many levels; pace, character, drama you will return again and again to enjoy the work of perhaps one of the world's greatest directors working with a great team of actors and technicians.
And this DVD version is technically superior to videotape version.
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on 25 December 2014
Blood-curdling and believable mediaeval drama. Revenge for a barbaric deed is achieved equally barbarically. The plot has overtones of present-day barbarism. Both von Sydow and Lindblom excel in their role-playing.
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VINE VOICEon 18 July 2009
Based on a 13th century ballad with dark and light elements,paganism and Christianity.We are in 14th century Sweden where the pagan gods like Odin still exist with a burgeoning Christianity practised by the family. Karin,blonde and virginal is the favourite daughter ofTore(Sydow)and his wife Mareta. Ingeri,her adopted step-sister, is dark-haired and worships Odin,hating Karin and being pregnant by somebody who forced themselves on her. She has a feral,animal quality and bears the brunt of the workload.The film starts with her blowing into the oven and lifting theskylight. Medieval labour and the harshness of life are evident.Karin must take candles to the Mass of the Holy Virgin and has to ride through the woods,hills and streams accompanied by Ingeri on horseback.Only a virgin can do this,but Karin being naïve and vain has to wear a special costume if she's to go.On the way she leaves Ingeri at the bridgeman's house as Ingeri wants to go back,having cursed her sister with a toad in her bread.She goes through the forest and is raped and killed with a cudgel by two goats-herders and a boy who she stops and talks to. Ingeri has been a witness from a distance. By a strange reversal the perpetrators ask for shelter in Tore's homestead and are offered bed,food and work.However they attempt to sell Karin's blood-stained garments to her parents and are brutally killed by a vengeful Tore. Tore and his wife are deeply religious and on finding Karin's body Tore asks for forgiveness and wants to build a church out of penance on the site. Lifting Karin's body there is the miracle of a virgin spring. Ingeri baptises herself in its water,passing from sin to the light of grace.Sven Nykvist is sole cinematographer for the first time and has done away with the chiaroscuro effects of previous films and there is a tonal contrast between light and dark(exterior and interior),fire and water,pagan symbols and Christian,winter and spring, foreground and background.This being an allegory it goes against the grain of spiritual questioning and uncertainty common to the best of Bergman. Sydow with this and The Seventh Seal sets himself up as Bergman's alter-ego in many films to come. Violence of a most brutal kind with Sydow as a kind of God-like figure soaks through this medieval tapestry.Lindbloom is astonishing. She is to be seen again.What gives it vitality are the emotional starkness and the pacing.
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on 19 February 2014
This is such a powerful film. If you like Bergman then add this to your collection. It still has the power to move and yet remains as fresh as ever. Great DVD. Buy yours now!
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on 13 August 2007
Virgin Spring is perhaps best remembered now as the film remade by Wes Craven in the 1970s as 'Last House on the Left'. Having seen both, I still maintain that this is the more powerful film. Set in Medieval Sweden, it tells the story of a young girl sent off in her best clothes to take candles to a Church, who is subsequently set upon by a wandering band of herdsmen who eventually rape and murder her. Later on, the same herdsmen turn up the the girl's parents house looking for somewhere to stay for the night. As the herdsmen are unaware that these are the murdered girl's parents, they try and make some extra money by attempting to sell the dress the girl was wearing to the couple, saying it used to belong to their sister. Once they recognise the dress, the couple guess that their daughter will not be coming home and proceed to take revenge on the herdsmen. Even though not in any way graphic, is made in black and white and dates from 1960, this remains a remarkably powerful film, with some stunning cinematography.
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Bergman's version of a famous Swedish folk tale manages to improve on the original and never overdoes anything. Faith is tested within an enclosed community, living on the edge of a forest, when the landowner's daughter rides off on a short pilgrimage and never comes back. She has been violated and then murdered by goatherds, and the doting parents only learn the truth when the three idiots come to them for shelter.

As always, Bergman has a genius for lighting and tableaux, maximising the emotional impact without resort to an orchestra or sentimentality from his players. Von Sydow is a giant amongst actors, brimming over with love for his silly-sweet little darling then wracked with grief for her and the violence that her death unleashes. Even moments such as the tumbling rape and the parents' search for the body have a unique theatricality that is harrowing. What might look simple and prosaic on the page comes vividly to life on the screen.

Having said that, The Virgin Spring lacks the iconic imagery that makes The Seventh Seal such an unforgettable viewing experience. This is not altogether surprising, given that this is a much smaller film with a narrower focus; Von Sydow's father is a more uncomplicated character than the Seal's Knight, but notably the Seal's mute girl is here transformed into a Kundry-like pagan half-sister, jealous of her sister's spotless coquetry but then overwhelmed with shame when she is violated by the men.

The Virgin Spring has inspired some grisly horror movies, and it comes as a relief to say that this is no gore flick. Anyone looking for an alternative way-in to the Bergman discography, other than The Seventh Seal, couldn't do better.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 April 2012
My favorite of the pre 1960 Bergman films, this has (once again)
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'!

This is a very nice transfer that can compete with the Criterion version.
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