The Virgin Spring

Bergman went to a medieval wellspring, a folk song whose simplicity and stark violence he recreated in purely visual terms, for his first collaboration with cinematographer Sven Nykvist. A girl in the bloom of innocent sensuality, the apple of her father (Max von Sydow)'s eye, is raped and murdered. A young boy who watched his brothers perform the act suffers along with them the father's terrible revenge. Bergman's medieval forays derive their strange beauty from the fact that early Christianity seems foreign and mythic to contemporary viewers. Yet no film in his oeuvre could be more modern in terms of its Freudian overtones, and the agnosticism it provokes in the viewer.

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