The Virgin Spring

Movie Information

In Brief: Highly regarded, but little loved, Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring (1960) was a title the director himself seems to have had little fondness for. I tend to agree with that. The fact that it was successfully marketed on the exploitation value of its story — rape and revenge — should perhaps tell you that this an ugly film. No, I don't mean visually. Though more austere than the films that preceded it, The Virgin Spring is visually striking, though in a drab way (which I can only assume was deliberate). It is Bergman stripped to his essentials. (It almost feels more like a Bela Tarr movie, which is not meant as a compliment.) Unlike the films that came before it, there's not a hint of humor in The Virgin Spring. It exists in a grim world and is grimly presented. Oh, it has its merits, raises all the usual spiritual questions found in Bergman's works and reaches the same non-answers (though one might question if the word "spring" in the title hints at one). Is it a bad film? By no means, but it's one I can do without. Looking at it again, I was impressed by the filmmaking and surprised to realize how little Wes Craven had to do to turn its basics into his (also exploitative) horror film The Last House on the Left (1972).
Genre: Drama
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Starring: Max von Sydow, Birgitta Valberg, Gunnel Lindblom, Birgitta Pettersson
Rated: NR

Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present The Virgin Spring Friday, Oct. 9, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library).  Info: 828-273-3332,

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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2 thoughts on “The Virgin Spring

  1. Dino

    I like this film a lot. It’s like eavesdropping on the Middle Ages. No, it’s not a feel-good film, but I’d hate it if it wasn’t around.

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