The Virgin Spring [Director-Approved Special Edition] [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1959]

Ingmar Bergman's powerful tale of brutality and revenge as Medieval Sweden is torn between paganism and Christianity has been given a typically fine presentation on DVD in this release from The Criterion Collection. The Virgin Spring was Bergman's first collaboration with cinematographer Sven Nykvist, and while the director would later make greater use of Nykvist's striking palate of light and shade, this transfer looks striking indeed; presented in the film's original 1.33:1 full-frame ratio, the grey scale is superb and the picture is sharp and rich throughout. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono and sounds crisp and well-detailed; the original Swedish-language soundtrack is accompanied by a dubbed English track, and another alternate track includes a stiff but well-researched commentary track from film historian Birgitta Steene. The disc also includes a question and answer session Bergman conducted for film students at the American Film Institute in 1975 (unfortunately available in audio form only), as well as interviews with two of the film's actresses, Gunnel Lindblom and Birgitta Pettersson, and an introduction from filmmaker Ang Lee, who talks about its influence on his own work. The booklet that accompanies the disc features an essay by Bergman expert Peter Cowie, notes from screenwriter Ulla Isaksson, a letter from Bergman regarding the censorship of the film's rape scene in the United States, and a translation of the Medieval ballad that inspired the story. The Virgin Spring earned Ingmar Bergman an Academy Award for "Best Foreign Film" in 1960, and this DVD release from Criterion is essential viewing for serious film fans.
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Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Audio commentary by Ingmar Bergman scholar Birgitta Steene
  • Introduction by filmmaker Ang Lee
  • New video interviews with actresses Gunnel Lindblom and Birgitta Pettersson
  • An audio recording of a 1975 American Film Institute seminar by Ingmar Bergman
  • Optional English-dubbed soundtrack
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • A 28-page booklet featuring essays by film scholar Peter Cowie and screenwriter Ulla Isaksson, the medieval ballad on which the film is based, and a letter from Bergman on the film's controversial rape scene


The Virgin Spring
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 question the efficacy of a God that would allow his daughter's death, then permit so bloody a retribution. Then, a fresh, virgin spring bubbles from the ground where his daughter had been lying a few moments before. Taking this natural phenonenon as a sign from above, Von Sydow vows to erect a church on the spot where Birgitta met her doom. The winner of the "best foreign picture" Academy Award, The Virgin Spring currently exists in several versions of varying lengths; the longest, and most graphic, is the original Swedish cut. Believe it or not, this hauntingly beautiful film served as the basis of The Last House on the Left (1972). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Max von Sydow
    Max von Sydow - Herr Tore
  • Birgitta Valberg
    Birgitta Valberg - Mareta Tore
  • Image coming soon
    Brigitta Pettersson - Karin Tore
  • Gunnel Lindblom
    Gunnel Lindblom - Ingeri
  • Image coming soon
    Axel Duberg - Thin Herdsman
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