Feature Film, 1960

The Virgin Spring

An austere study of rape, evil and death, based on a 13th century folksong.

"At the time I'd thought it a good film, one hell of a fine film! I considered it one of my best films. I thought it was magnificent."
Ingmar Bergman

About the film

Based on a 13th century folksong, the screenplay was written by Ulla Isaksson. Bergman has often spoken of Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon as one of his favourite films. The Virgin Spring undoubtedly owes a debt to this work, as it also does to Victor Sjöström's cinematic studies of nature.


Shooting the film

The film was shot at various locations in Dalarna, including Styggforsen and Skattungby.

The original PR material contained a short piece written by Ingmar Bergman entitled: Pages from a Non-Existent Diary. He tells the story of a rainy morning in the late spring of 1959: 'All were active in order to keep warm. The temperature was about the freezing point, and now and then snowflakes appeared from the ice-grey mist.'

The crew struggled to get the ageing camera equipment working in the harsh weather, when suddenly the clouds parted and the sun shone through. Time for a take: 'However, as the rays of the sun penetrated and sparkled across the mysterious darkness of this water in the forest and through the transparent spring green of the Swedish birch trees, someone called out loudly and pointed to the sky.'

Two cranes were flying majestically over the treetops. Everyone stopped working to admire the scene. When the birds had disappeared, Bergman mused for a moment over how pleasant it would be to have a Hollywood-like setup at his disposal:

'[...] to have a camera track that was not buckled, a camera truck that does not creak, and it would be quite an event just for once to make a motion picture with a budget of over two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, just for the experience. However, despite all that I am turning down the American offer down flat. I felt a sudden happiness and relief. I felt secure and at home.'


Epilogue 

The scenes of violence in the film caused a heated debate in the press. The film censors were criticised for passing it without cuts, and one individual actually complained to the Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsman (who did not, however, see fit to take any action).

The film won several international awards, including an honoray nomination and the critics' award at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival. It also picked up the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film of 1960, presented on 17 April 1961.

Sources

  • The Ingmar Bergman Archives.
  • Stig Björkman, Torsten Manns & Jonas Sima, Bergman on Bergman, (New York: Da Capo P., 1993).

Collaborators

  • Max von Sydow
  • Birgitta Valberg
  • Birgitta Pettersson
  • Gunnel Lindblom
  • Axel Düberg
  • Tor Isedal
  • Allan Edwall
  • Ove Porath
  • Axel Slangus
  • Gudrun Brost
  • Oscar Ljung
  • Tor Borong
  • Leif Forstenberg
  • Ann Lundgren, in för Gunnel Lindblom och Birgitta Valberg
  • P.A. Lundgren, Art Director
  • Rolf Holmqvist, First Assistant Cameraman
  • Staffan Dalin, Boom Operator
  • Sven Nykvist, Director of Photography
  • Carl-Henry Cagarp, Unit Manager
  • Oscar Rosander, Film Editor
  • Marik Vos, Costume Designer
  • Aaby Wedin, Production Mixer
  • Ulla Isaksson, Screenplay
  • Erik Nordgren, Music Composer
  • Allan Ekelund, Production Manager / Production Coordinator
  • Lenn Hjortzberg , Assistant Director
  • Karl-Arne Bergman, Property Master
  • Ulla Furås, Script Supervisor
  • Börje Lundh, Make-up Supervisor
  • Ingmar Bergman, Director