Ingmar Bergman was inspired by a 14th-century ballad [Tore’s Daughter in Wange] of innocence, rape, murder and revenge for this film. Christianity had moved into Sweden, but the people were still in the grip of heathendom in many ways. Bergman and scriptwriter Ulla Isaksson (a Swedish novelist who also wrote the screenplay for Brink of Life/So Close to Life) have made a film rich with details which sometimes are boring.
Karin (Birgitta Pettersson) is to make the virgin’s ride to church. A spoiled child, she also persuades her father, Tore (Max von Sydow), to let Ingeri (Gunnel Lindblom), who is bearing an illegitimate child, join her part of the way.
The two girls ride to the edge of the forest, from where Karin rides on alone against Ingeri’s protests. Karin encounters herdsmen in the forest, who rape her while their little brother looks on.
Tore seeks revenge, murdering the herdsmen as they sleep. He turns to God, wondering why he allowed the rape and murders.
Spring is loaded with the theme of guilt. And there is no main character. Bergman has carefully mixed Christianity with Odin’s raven, a toad, and heathen figures and symbols. Sven Nykvist’s photography of the forest is excellent. The acting is superb.
This is an extremely powerful film. However, it lacks the human warmth of Wild Strawberries and the majesty of Seventh Seal.
1960: Best Foriegn Language Film