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The Virgin Spring This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Ingmar Bergman certainly has a way with morbid filmmaking. Oftentimes, his films are depressing, faith-questioning, and tragic in a variety of ways. The Seventh Seal, for instance, was a slow-moving and deeply philosophical film about the existence of God and the meaning of human life. That's some pretty heavy subject matter. This film, The Virgin Spring, is definitely no exception to Bergman's darker storytelling. Inquisitive on themes like religion, occultism, sexual purity, and the corruption of youth, The Virgin Spring is able to ask these difficult questions while providing a tightly-wound narrative set within medieval Sweden.

The film follows a prosperous Christian, Tore, whose daughter, Karin, has been appointed to bring candles to their small church. It should be an average ride for Karin, who's accompanied by her pregnant foster sister, as she's taken candles to the church on a numerous amount of occasions. Ingeri, Karin's foster sister, only begrudgingly accompanies Karin, however, as she heavily detests her sister and secretly worships the Norse deity Odin. Along the way, the sisters discuss life, meet strange men at a small mill, and more. Before the day ends, though, a horrific tragedy will occur that will change the lives of the entire family.

From the get-go, the film's very character-orientated. We get to know Karin and her entire family - aunts, sisters, and all - in the span of 20 - 30 minutes. This may not seem like much time, but the character interaction and script is so amazing that Ingmar Bergman doesn't need too much time for a brilliant introduction. In this short amount of time, I was able to identify with, adore, and really enjoy the company of these interesting people. Karin, for instance, is a charming and imaginative young woman whose sweetness and love for life cannot be matched. The characters are so enthralling and interesting that the film left me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.

The visuals, as always for an Ingmar Bergman film, look fantastic. The brightness of the outdoors and the solemn darkness of the indoors sets a fascinating mood that's all the more fascinating due to Bergman's use of black-and-white. The camerawork's brilliant and fluid, never missing a beat in this emotional and thought-provoking film.

The themes consist of some heavy material as well. What I adore about Bergman's work is that he can interweave these themes very subtly into his films. They don't bludgeon you in the head or directly speak of any of the film's core themes. Instead, the film's mellowness and intellectual dialogue allows for independent thought, which in turn allows for independent interpretations. The Virgin Spring explores religion, paganism, ritualism, purity vs tainted, the value of human life, vengeance, and many other important concepts. What's even better is the fact that the film's narrative can be just as great without these elements. Even if you ignore the hard questions and religious discussions, the film can still be enjoyed in a story-based way. This is a thinker's film, though, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

The Virgin Spring is, in the simplest of terms, a perfect film. It's got fantastic characters, lovely visuals, a brilliant narrative, and a catalog of philosophical concepts. What more could you want?



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