Sunday, January 10, 2010

#321: The Virgin Spring

(Ingmar Bergman, 1960)

Jeez, Bergman, why do you have to be so obscure with your references to religion and the questioning of God? (Irony!)

I've been reading the Bible. I never read it before, and I kind of feel like it's a good idea to read it all the way through, seeing as how so much of society and art is based on it. I only started in the last few days, so I just finished Genesis, and The Virgin Spring would fit right in. The story is so simple the movie could have easily been ten minutes: a young girl is raped and murdered, and her killers show up at the house of her family, which proceeds to take their revenge.

Obviously this movie is better made than, say, Saw. But is the plot so different? Because it's about God instead of carpe diem I'm supposed to think it's art not trash? I generally think it's bullshit that there seems to be a double standard when it comes to sex and violence, and in fact, Wes Craven cites The Virgin Spring as a major influence on The Hills Have Eyes, his deeply disturbing look at the average person's capacity for violence. Does the fact that Bergman uses God as a theme and takes his story from an old folk tale make his movie more interesting or relevant than Craven's? I think not.

At the end of the day, The Virgin Spring is just too simple to make any kind of impact. The scene in which the woman is murdered is obviously disturbing, and Bergman is a great enough director to make the scene in which her father enacts his revenge equally intense and disturbing without much difficulty. But I don't think this film can hold a candle to the truly great Bergman films, and it comes off more as an exercise than a masterpiece.

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