The Virgin Spring Blu-ray Review
The Virgin Spring (1960) Blu-Ray Review, a movie directed by Ingmar Bergman, starring Max von Sydow, Birgitta Valberg, Gunnel Lindblom and Birgitta Pettersson.
Release Date: February 8, 1960
“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.”
Run Time: 90 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Language: Swedish (LPCM Mono track)
Subtitles: English (SDH)
The Virgin Spring is presented courtesy of The Criterion Collection with a new 2k restoration 1080p transfer. The image quality on this transfer is very impressive. In particular, the contrast and black levels are nice and deep. The film has a lot of outdoor scenes (taking place in medieval times) and the environments are nicely detailed. There is a healthy amount of film grain present, which adds to the feeling that this is a true ‘film’ shot on 35mm stock.
The Virgin Spring is presented with one audio track, a Swedish uncompressed LPCM Mono track. Optional English SDH subtitles are provided for the main feature. The audio is adequate, but nothing too impressive. The film relies heavily on natural environment sounds (birds, creeks, wind) and all these are well balanced. There is really not much in the way of range, though being a mono track this is to be expected.
Blu-Ray Bonus Content
Interviews with actors Gunnel Lindblom and Birgitta Pettersson – These interviews were informative on the production of the film, and the vision that Bergman was going for with the film. The two actors also discuss the (at the time) unprecedented sexual violence in the film, and how it impacted them.
Introduction by filmmaker Ang Lee
Audio recording of a 1975 American Film Institute Seminar by Bergman – Bergman discusses the film, and his rather dismissive view of it. He never considered it a major achievement, and was one of his only films that he did not write.
Booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Peter Cowie – A solid review of the film, and an examination of its many themes and implications.
Audio Commentary with Ingmar Bergman scholar Birgitta Steene
The Virgin Spring was released onto audiences in the winter of 1960. Based on a medieval ballad, “Tore’s Daughter at Vange”, the film is about an innocent young virgin, Karin, and her family’s pregnant and jealous servant setting out to deliver candles to a church. Once on the road, the two women run into two young men and a boy who ask if they will share a meal with them. But the men soon turn on Karin, and proceed to rape and murder her.
What follows is an examination of revenge, despair, and the collision between Paganism and the up-and-coming Christianity morality. By today’s over-the-top on-screen violence, the rape and murder scene looks harmless, but it created many outcries upon release. Karin’s death represents the death of innocence, the loss of beauty. Upon learning of her death, her father (Max von Sydow) sets out to avenge his daughter and kill the three men. The father represents the central clash in the film, our struggle between natural instincts and a spiritual morality of forgiveness.
Despite its short run time, the film is able to pack a lot into it to leave the audience with many philosophical questions. I enjoy watching the early violence in cinema, and gain an appreciation for how hard past directors struggled to find the right balance on what to show on screen. My complaints are mainly concerning the lack of character development outside of the father. Almost every other character is given perfunctory dialogue, and exist only to advance the medieval setting of the story (a servant, a cook, a seamstress, etc). I would have liked to have seen what Karin’s mother felt about her daughters murder.
Overall, The Virgin Spring is a good, though not great Ingmar Bergman film. He was able to give us an excellent examination of warring religions, the nature of revenge, and the loss of innocence.
Rating The Virgin Spring: 7/10
You can purchase The Virgin Spring here.
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