Wednesday, February 01, 2006

What hue is Red in Black and White?

Being none to well versed in Bergmanese, I shall nevertheless attempt at a review of the recently issued Criterion disc of The Virgin Spring or JungfrukÀllan for all of you Swedes out there. I am not a huge Bergman fan. This fact does, in no way, derive from the fact that I do not like his films. I hold no contempt for the films of Igmar Bergnam (or, at least, the few I have seen). In them, I recognize an impeccably tight directorial style, script, aesthetic and cast. A solitary act in a Berman movie can hold the weight of the universe in the slightest gesture. The Virgin Spring is no exception. It holds not one miscellaneous moment or tacked on scene. You just have to pick your favorites, and Bergman does not resonate with my like he might with many, many other Cinefiles out there.

The Virgin Spring begins and ends like a spell. We are conjured into this world as the animalistic Pagan Ingeri blows life into the flames of a fire. This plume in effect lights the scene and the story begins. As we end, Christianity conjures our miraculous closer. I won't delve too far here, suffice to say, the final act of this God is both miraculous and conversely cynical.

Accenting the slew of how-really-sweet-is-revenge movies du jour, where I'm certain The Virgin Spring was violently shocking to most viewers in 1960, it holds a far greater appreciation for the life which is being dispatched as quickly as you can say, "I've learned my lesson." And there are wicked subtleties abound. After Karin has been raped and killed, the young brother scatters a thin layer of dirt over her face. After Von Sydow wreaks hisvengeancee, he looks at his hands in amazement. What he has just done is just as insufficient as that thin layer of dirt covering the poor girl's face. Does such a simple task truly make up for all that has been done? Does it not make matters worse? And what of God? Does this act offer retribution for a neglect payed to him? Would a true servant of God have done such a deed? These are the questions at Bergman's table. They are not simple questions. Bergman never for a moment allows his spectator a simple thought. Yet the glowing magnificence of his images are so breathtaking because of their obligation to that word. Simple.


Blogger J said...

This is actually a very beautiful assessment of 'The Virgin Spring'... and strangely fitting with your last post. I hope 'The Virgin Spring' can help you into a greater appreciation for truly one of the greats of cinema.

8:46 PM  

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