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Jungfrukällan (The Virgin Spring)

Jungfrukällan (The Virgin Spring) (1960)


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Critic Reviews: 3
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 1



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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


Drama, Horror, Art House & International

Ulla Isaksson

Jan 24, 2006

Criterion Collection

Watch It Now


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All Critics (17) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (15) | Rotten (1) | DVD (18)

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

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop 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.

May 9, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Times | Comments (7)
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop 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.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

June 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Film Threat
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.

February 14, 2008 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Masterfully directed by Sweden's Ingmar Bergman.

December 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Winner of the Foreign-Language Oscar Picture, the film represents the first peak of Ingmar Bergman's creativity, released right after The Seventh Seal and before Through a Glass Darkly, all three masterpieces.

October 21, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

[Auds] will be rewarded by the depth of the director's moral and religious questioning, the emotional power of the story and acting, the haunting and symbolic imagery, and the excellent black-and-white photography of Sven Nykvist.

August 29, 2006 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Although the 'jiggery-pokery' does mute the 'actual, horrible story,' Bergman still poses worthy questions, offering no answers, a key difference between art and baloney, or spirituality and dogmatism.

April 5, 2006 Full Review Source:

It is also a crucial film because it was the first to be shot entirely by Sven Nykvist, who would become Bergman's longtime cinematographer and would be largely responsible for shaping the visual aesthetic of his later works.

March 18, 2006 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

The master guides us through this heartbreaking tale with a delicate hand and a gorgeous, poetic touch. It's actually one of his simplest and most moving works -- a film to be savored and pondered.

February 16, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Represents the primary nexus between Bergman's austere but accessibly recherché works of the 1950s and his downright ascetic 1960s cinema.

January 23, 2006 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Brutal and miraculous.

June 9, 2004
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Troubled, dark ambitious and highly intelligent film from the great Swedish director.

May 27, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4

Although the story plays straightforwardly, greater enjoyment comes through pondering the meanings behind Bergman's symbolic tapestry.

December 26, 2002 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews
Old School 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.
July 11, 2014
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.
December 30, 2013
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.
March 29, 2012
Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

Remade twice (both times under the title The Last House on the Left), this is a drama set in medieval Sweden about a deeply religious man who seeks revenge after his daughter is raped and murdered. Unlike the remakes, this is more of a drama than a horror film, although the events that take place are horrific. The way they are handled is makes it distinct.

The big push here is this film's focus on themes of religion, forgiveness, faith, heavy questions about the nature of crime and punishment. In a way, and I'm not trying to diminish the film here, you could possibly call this (if you had to) an arthouse exploitation film. Because really, it is art, it just happens to be punctuated byt two very strong (but surprisingly tasteful (as it were)) scenes of violence.

I loved this movie because it has Bergman's traemark playing around with light and shadows, and gorgeous cinematography, and the participation of his long time collaborator Max von Sydow (who is excellent). It has wonderful atmosphere, and everything is made more effective and unsettling due to the lack of a soundtrack (most notable during the violence) and the fact that the film doesn't ever go out of its way to see creepy or frightening. Everything is very peaceful, quiet, and serene, and that is far more intense than being overtly gritty.

The version I watched had an introduction by Ang Lee, and he really does a great job of explaining the film as being so powerful and moving because of the things I've mentioned above, and because the film is an overall classy affair despite the subject matter. Now, I'm giving this the same rating I gave to the first The Last House on the Left, but that doesn't mean the films are equal. In fact, you really can't put them in the same league, despite their similarities. They are both great in their own way. One just happens to be an artsy film with strong symbolism and heavy themes awhile the other is a gritty, disturbing, and unrelenting exploitation thriller (yet still has some subtext). As a film overall though, I think this one is better, as I see the other working better as more of an experience than as a movie.

You should definitely give this one a watch, It's some great stuff.
October 24, 2011
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • The Virgin Spring (Jungfrukallan) (DE)
  • The Virgin Spring (Jungfrukallan) (UK)
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