Review: Jungfrukällan (The Virgin Spring, 1960)

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The Ingmar Bergman train keeps on a rolling. I wonder if a pregnant woman should really be riding a horse, doesn’t seem that smart to me!

Written By: Ulla Isakkson
Directed By: Ingmar Bergman

If there is a God then how can there be such brutality in the world? This is the question that permeates the actions of Jungfrukällan, and in an angle I didn’t expect it is a question that is answered at the end of the film. Make no mistake about it, Jungfrukällan is a very brutal and gruesome movie, especially for its time. There is no stylized violence present in this Ingmar Bergman offering. We are given raw violence and raw revenge with none of the typical Hollywood trappings of murder present. This is where Jungfrukällan makes it mark and it’s adherence to a brutal reality is why it works so well. Why does the virgin have to die, because that is how life works. We are human and therefore we will lie, murder, cheat and steal. Even if there is a God that wouldn’t change for one second. This is the overriding message in Jungfrukällan, we live our lives and we are responsible for our actions, not some unseen God.

Where does God come into play then? He/she comes into play with a miraculous stream that sprouts from nowhere at the end of the movie. God may not play a role in our lives as we choose to live them, but he/she is still there and balances our actions with his/her creations. The stream sprouts from the place where Karin has died because the water is life. Her life has been taken but now the stream has arrived to give life and to cleanse the lives of those that are present. It is a powerful bit of symbolism, and it is handled is a reverential fashion that only adds to its power.

Power is at the heart of Jungfrukällan, the power that violence holds over people. The movie begins with comedy and this is the best way to offset the oncoming violence. Because once the violence starts it now has power over you. The killers hold power over Karin and then Töre holds power over them because of the violence he wreaks. The film holds power over you because of how brutal it is in its depiction of violence and how superb Max von Sydow is in his portrayal of a man that has lost his source of power, his faith. Power follows the movie until its very end when God reasserts his/her power with the miraculous stream.

Jungfrukällan is a powerful movie and I would expect no less from Ingmar Bergman. It continues his tradition of creating incredible settings and imbuing them with fantastic imagery, strong characters and thought provoking ideas. In a time where religion is paramount and the belief in any God is a major issue, a movie like Jungfrukällan should be required viewing for anyone.

Rating:

***1/2

Cheers,
Bill Thompson

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One response to “Review: Jungfrukällan (The Virgin Spring, 1960)

  1. Pingback: Postulating & Pontificating: Horror Bonanza! | Bill's Movie Emporium

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