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Reviews & Ratings for
The Virgin Spring More at IMDbPro »Jungfrukällan (original title)

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Index 75 reviews in total 

73 out of 85 people found the following review useful:


Author: Snake-666 from England
14 November 2004

Legendary Swedish director, Ingmar Bergman's probable precursor to Wes Craven's notorious 1972 shocker 'The Last House on the Left' is a far more compelling and emotionally draining film that adroitly and continuously switches the viewers sentiments up until the despondent, tranquil and haunting ending. While one minute the viewer is laughing along with the youthful, if naïve, exuberance of the young Karin (Birgitta Petterssen), the following minute will encourage different emotions as Bergman plunges the viewer into the middle of a nightmarish crime perpetrated by nothing less than the evil inside man. Although the portrayals of the acts committed in 'The Virgin Spring' are far less graphic than the modern viewer may have become accustomed to, they still retain an immense power to horrify as one cannot ignore the great lengths Bergman has gone to in order to give his characters a base in order to harden the impact of what we see. With just the simplest of dialogue, the viewer continues to learn about the relationships and personalities of each of the characters so that we may appreciate the consequences and, in some ways, forgive the actions that we see. This film is, after all, a tale of morality and repentance and therefore, even while in some cases the actions may be evil, it is necessary to accept the goodness that is still there. This thought is made no clearer than during the solemn and subdued final scene which fades out abruptly and leaves the viewer in a state of quiet reflection.

Bergman's pacing and subtle direction which at one point leaves the viewer in suspense for what seems like an eternity is surely the reason for the greatness of this film. As if he were playing chess, he manipulates not only the characters, but the emotions of the viewers with intelligent and surprising maneuvers while pressing home his own sentiments regarding the story so that we may at least take into great consideration the events that we have seen. Bergman has an amazing ability to flip the atmosphere of a movie in a split second using various lighting and camera angle techniques as well as motivating his performers to follow suit. The simple expression changes on the faces of Birgitta Petterssen, Max von Sydow, Birgitta Valberg and Gunnel Lindblom at various points throughout the film quickly alter the mindset of the viewer and indicate that all is not well; so beautiful in undeniable simplicity.

'The Virgin Spring' is nothing short of a masterpiece and a film that few will be able to forget. 9½/10

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48 out of 58 people found the following review useful:

One of the most heartbreaking films I have ever seen

Author: BlueGreen from Somewhere in Europe
15 February 2004

... and that's about all I can SAY about it. I saw this film four, maybe five years ago. And to this day, I feel a blow to my gut whenever I remember it. To this day, it haunts me - especially (and not surprisingly) the figure of the little boy.

This is a raw, uncompromising, unbiased parable on love and revenge; on humanity. It is set in 14th century Sweden - but its "message" is timeless: as timeless as love and vengefulness themselves. As timeless as humanity itself. Because the mores may change, but today, as 800 years ago, people are still helpless in their (perhaps inevitable) core existential ignorance, still subject to the immense pain of losing a loved one, of the inexplicable torments that often befall just and righteous, "good" people.

And that is what makes this a brutal, heartrending, unforgettable film.

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38 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

A fine, grim, little tale that will make you ponder afterwards.

Author: rowan_h from Taiwan
19 September 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have to agree with the previous comment, this is certainly a sad film I would go further, it's actually a grim little tale. Bergman pulls no punches, the medaeval world he shows is a hard, harsh, bleak place. There is a sense of menace in almost every scene and the actual rape is graphic and nearly unwatchable. The characters are not finely drawn, but after all this is a fairy tale in the older mould. They are there to represent types and conditions. The sad, doting mother; the unbending Christian gentleman; the flawed cleric; the ferocious, deceitful rapist-murderers. The tale on one level is very simple and can be simply followed; jealous sister curses more favoured sister, favoured sister is cruelly killed, killers ironically claim refuge of her father, father exacts revenge on them. So far we have something that could have come out of many a European ballad tradition. However, on another level it contains fundamental comments on humanity and human behaviour, Christian moral theology and our reaction to it. The father's faith is tested, he is not the man he thinks he is and his religion is not what he thinks it is either, though he submits and adopts a position of blind hope. The killers represent the complete absence of good that Aquinas maintained was the definition of evil. The young brother is the pain of conscience. In many ways it is a play on the deadly sins, apart from gluttony they are all there; wrath on the part of the father and pride in his daughter; envy in the half-sister; lust and avarice in the herdsmen and so on. It is truly an exemplary tale, as a medaeval legend should be. I bought this film casually at a street stall in Taipei for an absurdly small amount of money and it lay on a shelf unwatched for quite some time. In a bored moment one night I slipped it in the player and found myself enthralled until the finish. The cinematography, of course, is excellent but the joy is the dark threat that filigrees it, the simple but powerful emotions both quietly and violently displayed. It lacks the grandeur of "The Seventh Seal". It's a smaller and more compact number but it some ways the better for it, the evocations are more direct and the violence unnerving. I recommend it very highly indeed, you will be thinking on its themes long after this simple little tale finishes.

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42 out of 58 people found the following review useful:

Moving Masterpiece

Author: Merely from Brocktroit, Massatucky
21 April 2000

Brilliant, tragic, heartfelt story that will move all who see it...and it certainly is a must for anyone serious about film. I originally wanted to see it because I admire the work of Max von Sydow. Acting, directing, story, cinematography simply flawless. Haunting and superb.

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26 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

She was wrong

Author: Gary-161
29 July 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Pauline Kael (who she? They cry in unison) denounced this stunning film as revolting and the subject matter is harrowing and explicit for it's day. Just because it is, doesn't mean the story, although a legend; is not worth telling. The murdered girl is just like a dear friend of mine so it's particularly distressing to sit through. I can see where Tarkovsky got his floating pollen from, or maybe both he and Bergman were influenced by Dreyer. Great scenes include the guilty boy staring up at the stars while a grandfather torments him with a speech about conscience and the cruelty of the heavens, and Sydow's stabbing of one of his daughter's killers. It happens unsparingly in front of the camera, and is absolutely searing and indelibly imprints itself upon the memory, as it shows the slow, hard reality of taking a man's life from him. Sydow is also superlative after he has killed the child and stares down at his hands, unable to reconcile them as being his own. He brilliantly conveys a man who expected to be rewarded for his virtuous life in service of the lord and his bitterness over God's perceived betrayal. Or is it about betraying ones self?

Bergman admitted that the ending with the spring was somewhat tacked on and over didactic, even bogus, as he had already said what he had wanted to say on the matter of religion in previous films and that the matter was 'closed' in his mind to a certain extent. Perhaps this is why Kael questioned whether the film really needed to exist. I can't answer that one but it is a film of authority and power which makes you question what you would do in similar circumstances, and how you might reconcile your actions with your faith. Leaving aside the religious issue, which Bergman does appear to be half hearted about, it unquestionably sides itself with the need for forgiveness and the moral duty to do good. Recommended, and great performances.

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20 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

The Virgin Spring (1960) ****

Author: JoeKarlosi from U.S.A.
12 February 2009

Now, this was a true work of art. A quietly designed yet devastating story of a religious Medieval family and how their faith becomes challenged when their young daughter is brutally raped and murdered by three derelict brothers. Max von Sydow plays the father who is a God-fearing believer, yet finds himself overcome by his own sweet desire for revenge against those who wronged his little girl. I am happy to say I appreciated Ingmar Bergman's genius just by this movie alone. It's a visually beautiful piece to look at, but also with a story and strong convictions. So much is said without really needing to go overboard. I can see there is a recurring theme in his work where he questions the existence of God, or at least the complicated ways in which God works things out on Earth. I'm not sure whether Bergman was a full-blooded atheist or not at this point but I'd suspect he was at least a questioning agnostic. I'm sure this is partly why Woody Allen is so enamored with the director, as a similar religious thread runs through some of Allen's own movies. For the record, I am a strong believer in God, though these days I too have been faced with personal issues which have had me having difficulties in understanding, much like the father of THE VIRGIN SPRING. So this movie also touches a personal nerve within me. The performances here are all first-rate, with a special nod to Birgitta Petterson as the friendly and generous young woman who we take an instant liking to, but becomes the victim. What more can I say? An exceptional and deeply-moving film. **** out of ****

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30 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

Experienced Rather Than Watched

Author: postmanwhoalwaysringstwice from usa
21 February 2003

Sometimes Bergman's films, though full-fledged masterpieces (I AM NOT DISCREDITING HIM), are visual expressions seen with the screen as a wall between the viewer and the characters. I think that wall was taken down with "The Virgin Spring". Here he tells an emotionally intense story at the perfect pace with perfect pitch. No matter how horrific the occurrences on the screen, this film has been created with such an aesthetically appealing touch that the dichotomies and balance Bergman works towards is evident. Terrific!

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19 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

¨ VIRGIN SPRING¨ is a spellbinding masterpiece by the great Ingmar Bergman with awesome cinematography by Sven Nykvist

Author: ma-cortes
1 August 2007

The picture is developed in Sweden,during the Dark Ages,14th-century.This the story about a young naive virgin named Karin(Petterson)who's sent by her parents(Max Von Sidow and Birgitta Valverg)towards a church to hand over a candles for the holy Virgin.She's accompanied by Inger(Gunner Lindblon),a pregnant and envious young.They encounter a group peasants and the young virgin is cruelly raped(whose images in some countries were classified R).Later the killers ask for help and shelter from the parents.

The movie displays haunting and powerful scenes,it's plenty of images which stay forever in the mind.Although sometimes is slow moving ,however the thoughtful screenplay is narrated with intelligence and sensitivity but are developed ethics and moral issues like as death,God,religion and the vengeance.The movie realizes an excellent Sweden reunion actors with usual Bergman's players( Sidow and Lindblon, among others),showing the different characters and exploring their apprehensions,ambitions,fears and circumstances.Glimmer and riveting cinematography by Sven Nykvist(won an Oscar for Fanny and Alexander),he's deemed by many to be one of the world's greatest cameraman,he achieved give the movies on the most natural and simplest look imaginable,he replaced to Gunner Fischer(The seventh seal) as Bergman's cinematographer.He continued an American career working for Lois Malle(Pretty baby),Bob Fosse(Star 80),Kauffman(The unbearable lightness of being) and Woody Allen(Another woman,Crimen and misdemeanors).The Virgin spring is wonderfully directed by Bergman,it's a real masterpiece who made his major impact gaining international acclaim and winning an Oscar for foreign film and a Gloden Globe.His realization was during an impressive golden period from 1957-1968 when Bergman(recently deceased)made a stunning masterpieces: The seventh seal,Persona,The communicants,The silence,Hour of wolf.Rating: Magnificent,but is considered by many(along with The seventh seal) to be the Bergman's best.And please to forget the horrible and ¨Sui generis¨ version made by Wes Craven titled ¨The last house on the left¨.

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17 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Powerful simplicity

Author: Galina from Virginia, USA
8 January 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Based on the 14th - century Swedish legend, "Virgin Spring" is a moving and haunting tragic story about a young girl who was raped and killed while on the journey to the church. The killers unknowingly asked for the shelter at her parents' house... One of three was a young boy who only watched the crime.

Max von Sydow gives one of his best performances as an outraged father. Ingmar Bergman and his genius cinematographer Swen Nykwist reconstructed the medieval world full of realities and life, stunningly beautiful and deadly dangerous in the same time. Certainly a masterpiece and one of my favorite Bergman's films after the repeat viewing. Powerful simplicity.

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17 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

the murder scene; spring no more; restraint

Author: esoderberg from United States
10 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The murder scene...I occasionally show this movie to my tenth graders; when I first did, I hesitated: these kids have been raised on slasher movies, I thought; they're going to think the murder scene is lame. No, not a problem. Even with no splashing blood, or background music, or extravagant muscle...they are silent and horrified. And it seems to me--but I've never been sure--that you can actually hear the second herdsman's spine snap, when Tore has him in that terrible bear hug.

Re the scene where Karin's body is left abandoned. It begins to snow. One of my most insightful students once commented on that: "the virgin isn't a virgin any more, and spring is over." Finally: when my advanced classes discuss the effectiveness of restraint, I bring up the scene where one of the herdsmen offer's Karin's clothes to Mareta. No swelling background music; she doesn't scream, or faint; but says "I must ask my husband what a fitting price would be for such a valuable garment." Brrr.

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