Director Ingmar Bergman’s 1959 retelling of a Swedish folk tale, set in 14th century Sweden, about a spring appearing where a young woman is killed makes for a chilling and compelling film. It won the 1961 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
The same group of goat herders who have brutally raped and murdered the young virgin unknowingly ask for food and shelter from the girl’s wealthy land-owning parents. Her half sister has invoked a pagan curse. Discovering the truth, the parents set out for appalling revenge.
Max von Sydow is commanding as the murdered virgin’s avenging father. Bergman eerily realises the dark medieval atmosphere and brings out all the most sombre and powerful elements of the fable. And ace cinematographer Sven Nykvist creates chillingly beautiful images.
It is laden with a full cargo of Scandinavian doom and gloom, and sometimes obscure metaphors as well. But it is a highly rewarding experience as well as acknowledged world cinema masterpiece.
©Derek Winnert 2014 Classic Film Review 665
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