THE+VIRGIN+SPRING(V-CAMPUS)

THE+VIRGIN+SPRING(V-CAMPUSï&...

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The Virgin Spring   ( Jungfruk ä llan ) 1960 Reviewed by James Kendrick Ingmar Bergman’s  The Virgin Spring  ( Jungfruk ä llan ) takes place at a historical  crossroads   between   the   decline   of   pagan   worship   and   the   spread   of  Christianity in  medieval Sweden, and similarly the  film  itself stands at  a  crossroads in Bergman’s career. Having achieved cinematic renown with his  1955 comedy   Smiles of a Summer Night   and his late-’50s masterpieces   The  Seventh Seal  (1957) and  Wild Strawberries  (1957), Bergman was set to solidify  his   international   standing.   The   Virgin   Spring   did   just   that,   winning   the  International Critics Prize at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival and also the Oscar  for Best Foreign Film. It is also a crucial film because it was the first to be shot  entirely   by   Sven   Nykvist,   who   would   become   Bergman’s   longtime  cinematographer   and   would   be   largely   responsible   for   shaping   the   visual  aesthetic of his later works. In many ways,  The Virgin Spring  is a slight, almost rudimentary film--a sparse  narrative of vengeance and atonement--but its very simplicity is what strikes  chords. The narrative’s source is a 14th-century ballad “T ö res dotter I V ä nge,”  which Bergman had read as a student and had captivated him enough to cause  him to entertain thoughts of turning it into either a ballet or a stage play. Once  he saw its possibilities as cinema, he worked with novelist Ulla Isaksson to  flesh out the characters and the historical details, but without diverging from  the general narrative thrust of the sad ballad. The story takes place in medieval Sweden and opens in the household of T ö re  (Max von Sydow) and M ä reta (Birgitta Valberg), who are deeply religious  Christians. That morning they send their favored daughter, Karin (Birgitta  Pettersson), who is all blonde locks and girlish enthusiasm, on a daylong ride  to the nearest church to offer votive candles to the Virgin Mary. Along with her  is Ingeri (Gunnel Lindblom), Karin’s foster sister who is in every way her  opposite. While Karin is bright, cheerful, and blissfully unaware of the realities  of the world, Ingeri is dark, brooding, and all too cognizant of how the world  works. Ingeri’s pregnant belly, conceived out of wedlock, is a constant and  inescapable reminder of her shame. For this reason, she resents Karin, and  early in the film she prays to the Nordic god Odin and puts a curse on her.
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