Jungfrukällan (The Virgin Spring) (1960)

Jungfrukällan (The Virgin Spring)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

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 … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Horror, Art House & International
Directed By:
Written By: Ulla Isaksson
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 24, 2006
Criterion Collection


as Herr Tore

as Frau Mareta

as Slender Herdsman

as Mute Herdsman

as Beggar

as Old Man at River For...

as Farmhand
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Critic Reviews for Jungfrukällan (The Virgin Spring)

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (3)

Sven Nykvist's luminous black-and-white photography conspiring with the austerity of Bergman's imagery to create an extraordinary metaphysical charge.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

It is far from an easy picture to watch or entirely commend. For Mr. Bergman has stocked it with scenes of brutality that, for sheer unrestrained realism, may leave one sickened and stunned.

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

The period details are magnificently worked into the narrative, and the pace and economy of the tortured Swede's storytelling make his metaphysics infinitely easier to take.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Easily lost amid a brilliant career, The Virgin Spring once again shows Bergman's control in capturing the furthest ranges of emotion.

Full Review… | June 7, 2008
Film Threat

Bergman's instinctive approach to filmmaking %u2013 like his gripping use of long wordless moments filled with pictures of great power, is in evidence, with some unforgettable scenes that even today, almost 50 years later, have fresh impact.

Full Review… | February 14, 2008
Urban Cinefile

Masterfully directed by Sweden's Ingmar Bergman.

Full Review… | December 22, 2006
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Jungfrukällan (The Virgin Spring)

A virginal girl is brutally raped and murdered, and her killers unwittingly take refuge in her parents' home.
Simply stated, this is Bergman at his best. While there is a touch of the misogyny that Bergman featured in The Seventh Seal, as Birgitta and her sister turn into metonyms for light and dark female sexuality rather than fully fleshed out characters, the film nevertheless explore tough questions about the existence of God and humans' duties in response to cruelty and despair. Is revenge ethically, morally, or religiously justifiable? If God exists, why do bad things happen to good people? Should we or can we celebrate a deity in a world this fucked up? Filmmakers like Bergman aren't didactic enough to tell us the answers to these questions; instead, we get round characters who struggle with ethical dilemmas in intelligent and compelling ways.
Overall, Ingmar Bergman is rightly celebrated as one of the world's best for good reason.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

easily one of the most devastating films i've ever seen. an all time favorite. the images are penetrating and the film builds tension so well that every moment feels like the precursor to something bigger, and it always turns out to be. the themes of faith and morality take center stage and in the end we are reminded that kindness and innocence in this world are often rewarded with violence, darkness, and suffering. a deeply emotional film.

danny d

Super Reviewer


Ingmar Bergman's films are declarations. Declarations of doubt, declarations of fear. Somehow in his confrontation of death, he tries to find the meaning of life. In The Virgin Spring, Bergman revisits medieval times (as in 1957's "The Seventh Seal"). This time, the scene is a fourteenth century farm. Töre is the landowner and patriarch of his little family which includes wife Märeta and daughter Karin. The family, being devoutly christian, have an "adopted" family of farmhands and runaways, as well as one "fallen", heathen woman who is carrying an illegitimate child. It's with her the story begins as she prays for Odin to come and curse the daughter Karin. Karin is the perfect one, always getting her way, not having to do anything and getting spoiled by the masters of the house. So when she and Karin are sent to the church to deliver the candles for the virgin mother's mass, she gets her wish most brutally answered.

Watching Töre's penance towards the end of the film, you have to wonder about the level of ritualism and meditation that precedes an act motivated almost entirely by blind retribution. As observers, we can only feel sorrow at this destruction, regardless of what end it seeks to achieve. What can we take away from the Virgin Spring? That God, if he exists, works in mysterious ways? That life is cheap? That one's notion of existence can be swept away in one callous motion? It's not enough to just exist, you have to know why you are doing it. Once upon a time, we built churches to give our lives purpose, and to try and provide some higher understanding of why we were here. With The Virgin Spring, we have a film etched hard into the celluloid, an artistic rendition of the question that plagues our human nature.

Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

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