The Virgin Spring (1960)

Article #1074 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-22-2004
Posting Date: 7-21-2004
Directed by Ingmar Bergman
Featuring Max von Sydow, Birgitta Valberg, Gunnel Lindblom

A farmer discovers that vagrants who have turned up at his farm are the men who raped and murdered his daughter.

The basic story from this movie was borrowed by Wes Craven for his notorious horror film THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, which to date I have not seen. That movie is usually considered without question to be a horror movie, while this one is never considered one; its inclusion here is due to the final moment of the movie (which inspires its title), and the hint at one point that the events that play out were the result of a prayer to Odin. What marks the difference between a movie being a horror movie and one being a drama is the reason the story is being told. In horror movies, the story exists as an excuse for the violence, whereas in a movie like this, the violence is essential to telling the story. In other words, it is not the violent revenge exacted here that is the point of the story; it is how the events effect everyone and alter their lives. This movie is intensely moving, and Max von Sydow’s silent reaction at one point of the proceedings when he realizes what he’s done is simply one of the finest single moments of acting I have ever seen. This is a sad and powerful movie indeed.

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