Friday, December 23, 2011

The Virgin Spring (1960)

A flower that loses its preservation

This is a picture with a gradual flow that one can truly feel as it happens. It evolves step by step: working its way up and then deconstructing itself down. What also helps lock in a viewer is a share of the film isn't scored but instead lets natural sounds and pictures of nature speak through black and white imagery that way to develop a certain ambiance. The style of direction feels loose when there's emotion to evolve and then in others it can be deliberate and calculated in the way no detail is frivolous or unaccounted for.

"The Virgin Spring" starts out like every other day in this small Swedish town in the Middle Ages, though as it moves along it slowly turns more and more devastating due to an event that caught everyone by unawares. These simple folk come from a different era with different customs and professions, though they get hit with a tragic set of circumstances that can still translate and relate to the modern day person wherever a viewer comes from.

Life is here one moment, gone the next. Our time on Earth is about survival, as the chaotic ways of our environment can give and take at anytime. Letting your guard down is something that we all wish we could do, but the moment we get bit we'll be covering up in preparation for the next time, just in case. What makes this film so sad is that it shows that even the most treacherous occurrence can happen to those full of heart and passion. Being innocent, unselfconscious and a free spirit should be things that we should all be able to openly enjoy and experience. Though as most adults learn: there are those that are willing to take advantage and step on what you've built up in the blink of an eye.

Karin, a young, blonde maiden, is one such person who's prospects are far reaching with possibilities. She's a rare type that gives off a radiating spark to brighten those around her. The father is protective of Karin, while the mother softer due to it being her only child. As a result the girl is somewhat spoiled, fanciful and naive: ultimately not ready for the harsh realities of the outside world. She wakes up late and is given the small task of bringing candles to the church as per a virginal ceremony with her servant Ingeri. During her trek through the woods, Karin meets three brothers who look poverty stricken and from hard times. Expect they have an ulterior motive even when she offers to give them food and have a picnic. In the flash of a tranquil moment, things turn for worst as they want her for her body and belongs instead as Ingeri looks on as a silent witness from afar. When the three brothers seek shelter, they stumble into the last people they want to meet: Karin's relatives.

This has a fairly quick rape scene compared to what's to come with films in the '70s that would make a formula out of this and turn it into the rape/revenge subgenre. It's ugly and manipulative, sure, but it's also an impulsive, spur of the moment action. That way to concentrate more so on the after effects from putting little forethought into the selfish act on the rapist's part and also the servant who willed it at first but became panic stricken when actually played out. Max von Sydow rightfully plays the master of the house named Tore with a looming stance and stern face that commands when needed. His actions and expressions are subtle enough to translate what his thoughts are without having to say it outright. Gunnel Lindblom, as Ingeri, has the most complex role in the film. She's the black sheep of the family, always expected to do wrong and never appreciated when actually doing right: so what's the point of making an effort? The result is she acts misplaced and never really part of something with a sense of security.

"The Virgin Spring" is a challenging tale that unveils beauty and then breaks down the meticulous ruination of it. The film shows some of the effects of not having restraint, whether it's with hate, physical attraction or violence. It deals with choice: whether to swallow your pride and move on or easily give into current emotions and instant desires. It involves opposing ideals about forgiveness and revenge, as the family is turning towards Christian ways as opposed to traditional Pagan. This begins without a bad guy, gains a few in the middle and by its close the film will have you questioning whether the good ones that got thrown into the horrible situation are any more right in how they wrapped it up. This is an incredibly well-done and poignant picture, though not something to watch lightly even if it reveals a glimmer of hope that can be passed on. This was expertly paced, acted in a natural fluidity--like graceful stage actors than typical cinema performers--as well as the period decoration puts one there to live and feel as these basic people did, so when the events take place, it made them that much more powerful.

Rating: 10/10

Director: Ingmar Bergman (Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal)
Stars: Max von Sydow, Birgitta Pettersson, Gunnel Lindblom, Birgitta Valberg
Link: IMDB

No comments:

Post a Comment