Wednesday, August 4, 2010

1960 - THE VIRGIN SPRING, Ingmar Bergman shows how to make a film

Ingmar Bergman's story of revenge shows a filmmaker completely on top of his game.  The Virgin Spring was Bergman's version of an old Swedish legend about a young girl raped and murdered and her father's subsequent act of vengeance against her killers.

Bergman and his cinematographer Sven Nyquist didn't do anything wrong in this film.  Each image and edit were carefully chosen to tell the story and get the point of view across to the viewer.  Ingmar Bergman also was smart enough to use one of favorite actors Max Von Sydow.  Von Sydow brings his  brooding acting style to the part of the father.  It became fashionable to make fun of Von Sydow for a certain kind of acting in a Bergman film but very few actors could bring his kind of authority to a film role as intense as this. 

Bergman was always a filmmaker who thought big when it came to themes in his films.  The Virgin Spring has his usual interests in religion and his character's mixed response to it.  But Bergman was also a smart enough man not to let his interests overwhelm the film.  Even the final scene with the miracle of the actual spring flowing from the dead girl is carefully under played. 

A lot has been made about the father's vengeance on the three killers being more horrible than their actual rape and murder of his daughter, but Bergman kept the film very tough, the killers are not remotely sympathetic individuals.  It was hard not to see how Von Sydow would not want revenge. 

A lot of discussion has been wasted about how Last House On The Left is a remake of The Virgin SpringLast House On The Left is strictly a horror film. The Virgin Spring is a greater horror film since it deals with how justice, vengeance and violence get wrapped up in an uncomfortable mix of Christianity.
Another excellent film made by a person who knew what he was doing behind the camera.

89 minutes..

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