It’s, like, a requirement to have seen at least one Ingmar Bergman movie before graduating from film school. That being said, Bergman doesn’t tend to captivate a whole lot of people except the serious cinephile. Even though I’m a fan of a lot of his ideas, something never really translates from me as the idea is brought to life. The perfect example is his 1960 film, which even went so far as to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, The Virgin Spring.
A lot of you may be familiar with it, but may not know it just yet. It was the inspiration for Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left. However, unlike the horror film, The Virgin Spring left me with practically no emotion. I’d read descriptions about this haunting, tragic, and beautiful movie, but was never once affected by any of these descriptors. In fact, the girl who is raped and killed in the movie is perhaps the most annoying character. I felt for the parents’ grief, but I didn’t care about the girl in the slightest, which kind of creates a problem.
In fact, most of the characters were less than likable. I understand it could’ve been an attempt to shows that “we are all human” but when you’re relying on their pain and suffering to emotionally affect the audience, a little more time spent with these characters might be helpful.
However, this is far from Bergman’s fault. I can’t help but blame Craven. Is Last House on the Left the know-all end-all of movies? God no, but the violence and depravity of it, which may have been in The Virgin Spring for audiences in 1960, has pretty much left me de-sensitized to its source material. As disturbing as it may sound, had there been more focus on the heinousness of the act, rather than the 2 minutes it takes up on screen, maybe I could have felt the outrage that was supposed to be felt.
Finally, The Virgin Spring is a religious film. It’s not indoctrination or propaganda, but religion plays a crucial role in the film. That being said, I have no qualms with the fact that I am not a religious man. Therefore, some of the instances where religion is directly addressed left me even more uncomfortable than the scenes of violence. Others were scenes where the references simply went over my head.
The Virgin Spring should be noted as a film of importance. The other films it has inspired alone, cement its status as an important film. That being said, although I’m glad I saw it, it remains one of those films that’s better studied in a film class than it is watched in a casual viewing.