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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Melodrama > Violence > Sweden > The Virgin Spring (1960/Criterion Collection Blu-ray)

The Virgin Spring (1960/Criterion Collection Blu-ray)

Picture: B+ Sound: B+ Extras: B Film: B

Max Von Sydow stars in Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring (1960) that now gets the deluxe treatment on Blu-ray disc thanks to the good people at Criterion in advance of a massive Blu-ray box set the label is issuing in late 2018 to celebrate the director's centennial. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in its year of release, the film is a bit of a downer but is important to cinema history regardless.

The story is set in a darker time in medieval Sweden (the 14th Century) innocent virgin girl Karin (Birgitta Pettersson) and her family's pregnant servant are sent to send candles to a church. On the way, the women get attacked and raped (one dying) very ugly all around, but then an unexpected twist happens with profound ramifications. All the while, the film is a commentary on paganism and Christianity in this time period.

At this point, Bergman was a huge international success, breaking wide with Smiles On A Summer Night (1955), The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries (both 1957), all classics that assured that all of his future theatrical films for the rest of his career were considered not just his latest films, but major events that would deliver a major, personal, groundbreaking vision of life and living few directors would ever achieve. That has him in powerful form early on and this became his next classic.

The Virgin Spring is presented in 1080p high definition with its original 1.37:1 full frame aspect ratio in black and white. Remastered in 2K from its original film elements, the sound mix is an uncompressed monaural soundtrack that captures the film like never before and offers remarkable playback that fans and even non-fans will be shocked by. The film looks magnificent here on Blu-ray and is a definite must for Bergman fans or film scholars.

Special Features include...

Audio commentary from 2005 by Ingmar Bergman scholar Birgitta Steene

Interviews from 2005 with actors Gunnel Lindblom and Birgitta Pettersson

Introduction by filmmaker Ang Lee from 2005

Audio recording of a 1975 American Film Institute seminar by Bergman

Alternate English-dubbed soundtrack

PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by the great film scholar Peter Cowie and screenwriter Ulla Isaksson and the medieval ballad on which the film is based

Cover by Eric Skillman

If you're a fan of the film, then you'll definitely enjoy this release, so in advance of more Bergman Blu-rays, including two excellent earlier films of Bergman's. We not only recommend Criterion's amazing Blu-ray of Autumn Sonata, but their Blu-ray releases of Summer Interlude and Summer With Monika, both covered at this link...


Also try our coverage of Criterion's Blu-ray of Bergman's Cries and Whispers here...


- James Lockhart



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