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The Virgin Spring (1960)

Jungfrukällan (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 14 November 1960 (USA)
An innocent yet pampered young virgin and her family's pregnant and jealous servant set out to deliver candles to church, but only one returns from events that transpire in the woods along the way.


Ingmar Bergman


Ulla Isaksson
Won 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Max von Sydow ... Töre
Birgitta Valberg ... Märeta
Gunnel Lindblom ... Ingeri
Birgitta Pettersson ... Karin
Axel Düberg ... Thin Herdsman
Tor Isedal ... Mute Herdsman
Allan Edwall ... Beggar
Ove Porath Ove Porath ... Boy
Axel Slangus Axel Slangus ... Bridge Keeper
Gudrun Brost ... Frida
Oscar Ljung ... Simon
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Tor Borong Tor Borong ... Farm-hand
Leif Forstenberg Leif Forstenberg ... Farm-hand


Set in beautiful 14th century Sweden, it is the sombre, powerful fable of wealthy land-owning parents whose daughter, a young virgin, is brutally raped and murdered by goat herders after her half sister has invoked a pagan curse. By a bizarre twist of fate, the murderers ask for food and shelter from the dead girl's parents, who, discovering the truth about their erstwhile lodgers, exact a chilling revenge. Written by L.H. Wong <as9401k56@ntuvax.ntu.ac.sg>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Received the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film 1960. See more »


After seating himself in the room where the three drifters are asleep, Tore drives the point of his dagger into a table with a loud thump. It defies belief that none of the drifters were awakened by this. See more »


Karin: Forgive me for slapping you.
Ingeri: Don't ask *me* for forgiveness!
See more »


Featured in Bergman: A Year in the Life (2018) See more »

User Reviews

When a day starts beautifully and ends miserably.
21 March 2019 | by Hey_SwedenSee all my reviews

A landmark film from master filmmaker Ingmar Bergman that still remains potent today, "The Virgin Spring" understandably won the Best Foreign Film Oscar for its year. Haunting and unforgettable, it's pull of literate dialogue, attempting to ask some hard questions when it comes to good and evil, and faith and religion. Even at the end, the film does make clear the message that even with vengeance comes a price to pay.

The luminous Birgitta Pettersson plays Karin, the lovely & virginal daughter of a farming couple (Max von Sydow, Birgitta Valberg). The striking Gunnel Lindblom plays Ingeri, the pregnant wild child whom they've taken in. One day, the two girls set off to transport some candles to church, and the nearest church is a LONG ways away. During the journey, Birgitta makes the acquaintance of two travelling herdsmen (Axel Duberg, Tor Isedal) and their much younger "brother" (Ove Porath). The two young men rape and murder poor Karin, and as luck would have it, they find shelter and food at the nearest abode: the von Sydow and Valberg household. Once the two parents put two and two together, they're ripe for revenge.

Shot in gorgeous black & white by the great Sven Nykvist, "The Virgin Spring" will attract curious viewers if they are like this viewer and are horror fans who have already seen the crude and crass Wes Craven reimagining, "The Last House on the Left". Inevitably, comparisons will be made; while each version is quite memorable in their own way, this film retains the power to shock and depress despite cinema becoming progressively more graphic as the years have gone by.

The performances are excellent. Pettersson is such an appealing presence that it's gut-wrenching what happens to her. Von Sydow is his usual tower of strength as the father who learns that vengeance is not all it's cracked up to be. Duberg and Isedal may not quite make one want to take a bath afterwards the way that Krug and company did in Cravens' film, but they're still sufficiently creepy.

Vivid and credible, this does leave its viewers with some things to think about afterwards, and offers no easy answers.

Inspired by a 13th century Swedish ballad, and scripted by Ulla Isaksson.

Eight out of 10.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Swedish | German

Release Date:

14 November 1960 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Virgin Spring See more »

Filming Locations:

Dalarnas län, Sweden See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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