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The Virgin Spring (1960); Jungfrukällan
Topic Started: Dec 28 2017, 07:27 PM (277 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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The Virgin Spring (1960) Dir. Ingmar Bergman
Janus Films
89 min. / B&W / 1.33:1
DVD: Criterion

Medieval Sweden: An innocent young girl is accosted by goat herders on the way to church; her father wreaks a terrible vengeance but then vows to make amends.

Yeah, well, that's the plot, but this being a Bergman film 'n' all...

I have genuinely enjoyed every one of this films that I've seen (which is probably no more than maybe half a dozen, so far) although I've wondered why his films are considered so "bleak" since they've all contained moments of great light and humor and wit. Um, until this one, which is indeed... well, what's a word that means "bleaker bleak"? Oh, there's redemption at the end (and how - a very nice redemption, in fact) but along the way, oy. Karin, the virginal daughter, is a blonde sweetie; Ingeri, her servant girl (or possibly step-sister, depending on whatever review you believe) is dark and feral (and secretly worships Odin); the mother is Christian and lovable; the father is also Christian, but recognizes his pagan upbringing and struggles with it. Partly, it's a film about paganism vs. Christianity; partly, it's a film about family and relationships; partly, it's just a good ol' fashioned horrifying drama (based on a 14th century song, it says here).

Million-dollar Dialog:
"See the smoke trembling under the roof, as if with fright? Yet when it gets out in the air, it has the whole sky to swirl about in. But it doesn't know that, so it huddles and trembles in the soot under the roof. It's the same with people. They quiver like a leaf in the storm, afraid of what they know and what they don't know."

Not too many films discussed 'round this website deal with such lofty subject matter, and I'll just say that I'm willing to guess that many of you figure that Bergman films are artsy and well made and perhaps brilliant works of art but you're not interested in 'em. That's a shame, because for an hour and a half I sat transfixed at a film that was beautiful to look at, engrossing to be involved in, and in the end, shattering in its picture of human life and our belief system.

The film's most interesting bonus feature (thanks, Criterion!) is a 7-min. talk with Ang Lee, who first saw this film as a teenager. He said it changed his life, made him aware of what a filmmaker can do besides just "telling a story," and why the film means so much to him. Good stuff. The original song/poem that inspired the film is included, too.

Max von Sydow is Töre, the father; Birgitta Valberg, his wife; Gunnel Lindblom the dark daughter; and Birgitta Pettersson the light daughter. The picture - not one of Bergman's favorites, he admitted - won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, 1960, opening a lot of doors (and purse strings) for the director. Note that the film was censored of several minutes of brutal action in 1960, and those minutes are restored for the DVD from Criterion.

Even if you're more interested in action, suspense, and vengeance than you are in man arguing with himself about God, you'll find the film a winner, I think.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Frank Hale
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"Not too many films discussed 'round this website deal with such lofty subject matter".

We have been told that irony died with Trump, but now our beloved webmaster, the fantastically unrepentant devotee of Universal, Lippert, Hammer, AA, and God knows whatever other horrors and exemplars of bad taste, suggests that we are perhaps remiss for not watching more Bergman.

You really ought to consider a career in Congress, Gravy.

And where is Paul Panzer when we need him?

I would have to watch this again to offer anything intelligent, but my memory is that, yes, it was remorselessly bleak, regardless of any final epiphanies.

Perhaps some of our members will chime in. I will be all eyes, and willing to contribute pending a re-watch. In the meantime, love ya, Mr. G.
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Laughing Gravy
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Thank YOU, Mr. Hale. Some random follow-up thoughts:

I'll admit, writing about films like this intimidates me. And I've always (of course) encouraged people to watch and write about whatever they wanna watch and write about; I really only started watching westerns on a semi-regular basis so that I could communicate better with so many of you (and it turns out I kinda like the darn things, although I've never really grown to like western serials much, for some reason). Other than the possibility of the cult section, I don't think I ever sit down to watch a movie I don't think I'll enjoy just 'cause I wanna write about it ITB.

When I go out with friends to sing karaoke, I like to sing that crazy rock 'n' roll music, but every once in a while, if nobody's sung any Sinatra, I'll sing some Sinatra, because you know why? Somebody SHOULD sing Sinatra, that's why. And 'round THIS jernt, if nobody's talked about a great foreign film in awhile, well, heck, I'll step up and take a swing at it (I think Stony is the one most likely to appreciate this film, frankly).

I didn't mean to criticize anybody who "doesn't watch more Bergman" (especially since I don't watch more Bergman) but I did hope to impart that I can't believe that more people wouldn't find these types of films worthwhile if they tried them. (While it ain't Bergman, the film I most recommend is Seven Samurai, a movie that anybody who likes movies of any kind would, I think, enjoy greatly).

I own a wealth of Criterions on DVD and BD that I haven't gotten to yet, and I look forward to the next one, whatever it is, in a way that I don't look forward to, say, the next Sam Katzman movie, if that means anything (which it doesn't, probably).

By the way, The Virgin Spring is a very good movie, and Von Sydow is excellent in it. I'd have to say that of the four films I watched on my home sick day, it was the best, even topping The Cariboo Trail, Blondie does whatever the hell she did in that movie, and One Way Ticket to Hell.

And you said I had bad taste.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Bert Greene
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Well, yeah, I've seen "Virgin Spring." And "Wild Strawberries." And "The Seventh Seal." And a few other Bergman titles. Just as I've seen the Fellini, Kurosawa, etc., warhorses. Saw them all many moons ago. I once cast a pretty wide net, in my youthful explorations of film. I did not 'dislike' the Bergman films. They were usually interesting in a number of ways. Just like a lot of classic American "A" films, which I viewed once, found marginally satisfying, and then never felt compelled to revisit.

A lot of films have all sorts of aesthetic merit which I can appreciate on certain levels. But as I've gotten older, and the value of time (and even money) has intruded on the scene, I've become more apt to have my film pursuits more concentrated in areas that really serve up a robust plateful of contentment. I still think of it as a fairly wide net, stretching from silent-era westerns to schlocky 60s-era sci-fi, and incorporating just about every genre out there. Each niche reflecting different cultural and historical facets, endlessly enjoyable to tap into. I don't care one whit if I'm deemed a lowbrow for where I establish my barriers (or, as more commonly occurs, get criticized for my complete disinterest and avoidance of modern movies). Why should I? I'm rolling in joy with these old flickers. I think I'm even enjoying these things more and more with each passing year.
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Laughing Gravy
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Well said, Mr. G. And it made me think of how little interest (close to zero) I have for an awful lot of "mainstream" American movies. You can probably count on one hand the number of films I've seen of (adult) Liz Taylor, Deborah Kerr, Doris Day, Lana Turner, and Rita Hayworth - put together. Those sorts of things are movies for my mom, not me, I can say with confidence, not having seen any of them.

"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Frank Hale
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I have to admit I am an extremely poor audience for most Swedish movies, although I am sure the fault lies with me.

It's kind of like trying to understand the fiction in The New Yorker. I even thought "I Am Curious...Yellow" was pointless.

Anyway, I was just kidding. If people actually did want to discuss "The Virgin Spring" I would take another shot at it. I think I'm pretty safe in this crowd, though.
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Stony Brooke da Mesquiteer
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Did someone invoke my name for the new year? I do like this film although I haven't watched it in about 7 years but I'd watch it again given the right circumstances (you see, I don't own a copy, I borrowed it from Netflix). I can't speak to the religious themes as well as I could The Seventh Seal--man fighting man for religious reason and then wondering if there is a God.

How about that von Sydow? He started with Swedish films, or maybe TV, then he became an actor who would be in just about anything and I mean Strange Brew when I say anything. He may have been helping out someone by being in so many films especially some of the duds he was in or maybe he was just trying to get paid thinking he might outlive Death...or maybe beat him at chess.

I can say Wes Craven stole the story, but not the heart and soul of this film and remade it as The Last House on the Left.

Happy New Year to the Balconeers.
It's like Rodney King used to say, "Can't we all get a bong."
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The Batman
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I really like Bergman films. I have, but haven't watched THE VIRGIN SPRING. Sounds like one to move up in the "to watch" pile.


Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman...then always be Batman!
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Sgt Saturn
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Laughing Gravy
Dec 29 2017, 07:18 AM
You can probably count on one hand the number of films I've seen of (adult) Liz Taylor ...

You prefer the ones where she takes second billing to Lassie? I think I concur.
The Ol' Sarge
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