Saturday, September 6, 2014
THE VIRGIN SPRING (1960)
Directed By: Igmar Bergman
Written By: Ulla Isaksson
Cinematography By: Sven Nykvist
Editor: Oscar Rosander
Cast: Max Von Sydow, Gunnel Lindblum, Birgitta Patterson, Brigitta Valberg
Set in beautiful 14th century Sweden, it is the somber, powerful fable of wealthy land-owning parents whose daughter, a young virgin, is brutally raped and murdered by goat herders after her half sister has invoked a pagan curse. By a bizarre twist of fate, the murderers ask for food and shelter from the dead girl's parents, who, discovering the truth about their erstwhile lodgers, exact a chilling revenge.
Being my first Igmar Bergman film ever an just watching one in the year 2014. I was excited and careful to pick which would be my introduction into his resume. I believe I choose very well as the story is somewhat familiar, but watching the skill and grace he puts forth is amazing.
I can't say that I was too surprised as he has a solid legendary reputation. So it being nothing short of classic isn't Too shocking.
Now I have seen this story told numerous times in last house on the left and plenty of other horror, thriller and action films that have ripped off the concept and irony. As this film is simply dramatic it seems to have set the template for them Boiling down the story to it's simplest iteration. Proven itself to be monumental in it's own right.
It might be my own bias, but I was shocked at how graphic and brutal the rape scene was in this film. While it is early cinema that was making it's own definitions at the time. So that some no too subtle elements of story and character can be be somewhat forgiven. Such as one of the evil herdsman's teeth looking like those upper rotten rubber I stet joke teeth, that you can find in most novelty catalogs. Elements like that signifying and send a message before the act of nefarious nature.
The victim though being a fully grown woman. Having a simple childlike demeanor. So as you see the crimes against her. It is even worse to you than normal.
I am glad to watch it here as it doesn't feel as exploitive. The same coincidences, but more of a focus on emotion and character as well as minor differing details that help in the telling. That allows an audience I see the different symbols, styles and emphasis filmmaking Has in telling the tale, putting into the story and it's presentation of it.
Also noteworthy is Max Von Sydow's hair. It's shocking to see him so ping as I have grown up watching him in films later in his life. Where he appears more geriatric.
The revenge that eventually happens is not as brutally graphic and seemingly devised and planned as in the other interpretations. Here it is a lot more simple and organic
My personal favorite dispatch I of the you herdsman who perished just by being thrown. I will admit it made me laugh out of the process ad I believe as a reaction of the general shock of the act.
Not only is t revering as he proceeds to exact his revenge, but in the emotionless face of his wife as she watches. A willing accomplice who slowly feels sorrow for the acts at the end. Which at least has this film acknowledge the emotions and feelings brought up after the act is done. The feelings of guilt and justice and either way it doesn't bring their daughter back.
Gunnel lindblum as Ingrid is quite captivating, but Birgitta Patterson cast as a friend as she is made to be dirty and tempestuous impure. She has later with a man before and is now pregnant and in married though through her steel expressive eyes. You can tell it would be hard for her to play an innocent role as her face seems to telegraph her nature and her eyes seem to be more of a weapon. You are distracted looking into their beauty, bit really to see the danger and true meaning of motives behind them.
It's a film that makes one question their own morals and strength of character and belief. Not only for the characters, but for the audience who watches. We may only act as witnesses, but the film seems meant to provoke questions and feelings within ourselves and what we are witnessing.
Of course the film has religious allegories, but also it's meaning to the individual as it plays a large part in most of the Characters lines.
Well it's no SEVEN SAMURAI then again what is other then actually seven samurai itself, definitely not THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. What is to say this is a classic film that lives up to its reputation? Yet won't leave you as shocked by how much enjoyment and how well it stands up still as I personally feel SEVEN SAMURAI. Does even though it's a period piece and a look at a culture and history though this film isn't an action adventure driven as that film
It's a film you might only watch once as you want to remember it the way your memory does not sully it by watching it repeatedly getting tired of it or noticing problems you might have. It stays well remembered and special as it earns a certain respect and credence others rarely do. A film that remains pure to you always.
Symbolism matters yet not as heavy. All of the shots are beautiful and feel like they have a reason and meaning.