The Virgin Spring (1960) – Ingmar Bergman

Taking its inspiration from a centuries old ballad, as well as Kurosawa’s Rashomon and in turn inspiring Wes Craven’s revenge horror thriller, Last House on the Left, Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring comes up on the What Else to Watch list following my screening of The Seventh Seal.

Dk Canada’s The Movie Book continues to entertain, and expand my cinema knowledge as I dove into this tale of innocence lost, revenge, penance, and the miracle and mystery of god.

Max von Sydow is Tore, the patriarch of a small estate. His naive, spoiled, but essentially good-hearted daughter, Karin (Birgitta Pettersson) and servant, the very pregnant, and jealous Ingeri (Gunnel Lindblom) are on a pilgrimage to their local church to deliver candles.

On the way, Karin is set upon by a trio of herdsmen, one still a boy, who take advantage of her good will, then rape and kill her.

Taking her clothes to sell, the villains make the mistake of coming to Tore’s home, and when they make another mistake of offering Karin’s dress for sale, they make their final error.


A quarter way through the film I realised I recognised the story, of not the movie, and knew that this had to be the film that led to Craven’s shock masterpiece. Unsurprisingly, Craven leaves off the religious overtones of the ending, but in this film, they seem quite at home, even as the countryside and household in the film wrestles with the old Norse gods, and the new Christianity.

While no where near as graphic as Last House, the film is still shocking and jarring in its moments of violence, and Max von Sydow’s angst, pain and grief when he discovers Karin’s body is powerful, as are the moments when he wreaks his revenge.

Much like The Seventh Seal, all of the characters in the film are allowed their moment to shine on screen, and pontificate on the nature of man and god. The sets that make up the estate are worn, lived-in, dirty, and have a feeling of authenticity.

There is an examination duality here between the old gods and the new, though that is touched on with its ending. Ingeri worships Odin, and has fallen into the family way, and while jealous of Karin, she doesn’t seem upset with her life choices, while Karin, spoiled, and raised in a Christian manner is subjected to the evils of men. By film’s end the miracle following the recovery of Karin’s body, may be seen as a baptism of Ingeri into Christianity.

There are a lot of levels playing out in this film, while masquerading as a revenge story. But that’s what I love about The Movie Book from DK Books, it keeps bringing me amazing stories, and new ways to look at them.

Pick up a copy today, and find some classic cinema to watch!


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