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Somewhen in the 1300s: Naive and spoilt young Karin (Brigitte
Pettersson) is told by her father Töre (Max Von Sydow) to bring candles
to the church which is many miles away - and she insists to wear her
Sunday dress, and insists that her pregnant adopted sister Ingeri (Gunnel
Lindblom) - the daughter of a prostitute who is now pregnant without being
married, a big no-no in the 1300s - comes with her. However, at about half
the way, Ingeri has some premonition and refuses to go any further.
With not a care in the world, Karin rides on, and meets three brothers
- two herdsmen (Axel Düberg, Tor Isedal) and a boy (Ove Porath) - whom
she befriends and shares her food with. As a thank you however, the two
men rape her and kill her ... with Ingeri watching the whole thing.
Later, the three borthers stop at, of all places, at Karin's parents'
house and ask for a place for the night - which Töre and his wife Märeta
(Brigitta Valberg), not knowing yet about the fate of their daughter,
gladly offer. Then though one of the brothers offers Märeta of all things
Karin's Sunday dress, and all of a sudden, Märeta knows what has happened
and tells Töre ... who gets himself in such a rage that he kills the
three brothers, even the little boy who very obciously had nothing to do
Only then does Töre set out to look for the body of his daughter, led
by Ingeri, who blames herself for what had happened because she thinks she
cursed Karin, whom everyone always preferred to her, especially in her
pregnant state ...
Only when Töre sees the dead body of his daughter is he overcome by
grief, and by remorse that he killed the three brothers and had thus been
no better than them, and he vows to build a church right on the spot his
daughter was killed to redeem for his sins ...
The Virgin Spring is a very grim portrayal of the Middle Ages,
far away from tales of knights and chivalry that usually dominate the
lore, instead it puts the dark back into the Dark Ages, a time when
superstition prevails and even the way tot he church could be leading into
death. And while the film was apparently made on the cheap, it's
nevertheless one of the most impressive portrayals of the time.
By the way, the key plot elements of the story - rapists and killers
visiting the parents of the girl they just raped and getting their just
dessert - would regularly pop up in trash and sex-and-crime films, first
and foremost of course Wes Craven's Last
House on the Left.