Article Title

The Virgin Spring and The Seventh Seal: A Girardian Reading


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Of his more than forty films, Ingmar Bergman has set two in the Middle Ages-The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet, 1956) and The Virgin Spring (Jungfrukiillan, 1959), the latter based on an early ballad and utilizing a screenplay that he co-authored with Ulla lsaksson-which together form an instructive pair. The former, of course, represents his breakthrough as a director of international reputation. Though heralded by the powerful Sawdust and Tinsel from 1953, The Seventh Seal was his first unquestionable masterpiece. It was a film that to Bergman's own amazement "swept like a forest fire across the world."1 Today it continues to maintain its preeminent position with both audiences and critics. The Virgin Spring, however, is a different matter. Compared to his best work as a director, it has been judged a relative failure, first and foremost by Bergman himself. Initially elated by the film,2 he later became sharply critical of it. In an interview from 1970, he stated: "Now I want to make it quite plain that The Virgin Spring must be regarded as an aberration. It's touristic, a lousy imitation of Kurosawa."3 And in his autobiography, The Magic Lantern, he neglects even to mention the film4 and thus tacitly removes it from among the works by which he evidently wishes to be recognized as a director.

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