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
The Virgin Spring
The Virgin Spring
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.
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June 29, 2018 at 04:53 AM