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Virgin Spring, The (Jungfrukällan)

Director(s): Ingmar Bergman

Theatrical Release: 1960

Cast: Max von Sydow, Birgitta Valberg, Brigitta Pettersson, Gunnel Lindblom, Axel Duberg, Tor Isedal

Genre(s): Drama, period piece, crime, religion, Criterion Collection

Countries: Sweden

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Ant Rating
Running Time: 89m.

Inspired by a medieval Swedish ballad, Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring (Jungfrukallan) begins with a scene of unspeakable brutality and ends with an image of uncommon beauty. 15-year-old Birgitta Peterson, on her way to church to light candles for the Virgin Mary, is raped and murdered by two older men. The men look for shelter at the home of Birgitta's father (Max Von Sydow), who murders the bestial killers in cold blood. When the deed is done, Von Sydow, a deeply religious man, begins to question the efficacy of a God that would allow his daughter's death, then permit so bloody a retribution. Then, a fresh, virgin spring bubbles from the ground where his daughter had been lying a few moments before. Taking this natural phenonenon as a sign from above, Von Sydow vows to erect a church on the spot where Birgitta met her doom. The winner of the "best foreign picture" Academy Award, The Virgin Spring currently exists in several versions of varying lengths; the longest, and most graphic, is the original Swedish cut. Believe it or not, this hauntingly beautiful film served as the basis of The Last House on the Left (1972). -- Hal Erickson (


Criterion Collection DVD #321 Special Features:

+ New, restored high-definition digital transfer

+ Audio commentary by Ingmar Bergman scholar Birgitta Steene

+ New video interviews with actresses Gunnel Lindblom and Birgitta Pettersson

+ New essay by film historian and Bergman scholar Peter Cowie

+ New and improved English subtitle translation