The Virgin Spring (1960) Script

THE VIRGIN SPRING Adapted from a 13th-century Ballad by ULLA ISAKSSON

Cinematography by SVEN NYKVIST


Odin, come!

Odin, come!

Come to my aid.

Heavenly Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, with all your hosts of angels, guard us this day and always from the devil's snares.

Lord, let not temptation, shame... nor danger befall thy servants this day.

It's Friday, the day of our Lord's agony.

So help me God, I nearly stepped on them out there in the dark.

You poor thing... live out your wretched little life, the way God allows all of us to live.

Where were you all night?

If you don't care where you sleep, you could at least come back for the milking.

I had to run around on these poor legs.

Jesus and Mary, you're a sight! What's wrong?

What's wrong? Nothing more than the usual... that bastards beget bastards.

Serves you right, the way you behave, spitting and snarling like a wildcat.

You should thank God on your bare knees for his mercy.

To come to a farm like this and stay in this house like a child of the family.

But you are, and always will be, a savage child.

The milk is still on the porch!

You'll have to ride to church with the candles for the Virgin.

Me? Yes.

Isn't Karin to take them? Karin's not well today.

She'll sleep through morning mass and then feel just fine.

I think she has a fever. Her skin was so warm.

She certainly burned with fever at the dance last night.

Watch your tongue!

I'm not afraid my daughter will walk in your filthy footsteps.

You two have always been as different as rose and thorn.

You've always pricked others and made them suffer!

You can't help yourself.

We should throw you out, after the mess you've gotten yourself into.

Lord, bless this, our daily bread. Amen.

Where's Karin?

Shouldn't she be leaving for church with the candles?

Karin's not feeling well today.

She didn't seem sick last night. She's fond of sleeping away the morning.

Nevertheless, she's sick now.

She can't suddenly be so sick that she can't ride to church.

Frida will have to take the candles.

You know tradition says a virgin must take the candles.

You're always so concerned with discipline and duty when it comes to Karin.

And you're always so soft and weak when it comes to her.

She's the only child I have left.

All the more reason to raise her properly.

I had bad dreams last night.

You shouldn't practice such harsh penance at night.

Now send Ingeri to wake Karin.

I'll go myself.

Yes, go and put some life into that loafer.

Ingeri will have to prepare a lunch for her.

Put some cheese in the wheat cakes.

And some mutton too.

Are you sick, Karin?

No, not sick.

Just sleepy.

Can't I have breakfast in bed today?

Father says you're to get up at once and take the candles to church.


If you're not well enough, Frida has to go.

I'm not sick. Then you have to go.

Then I want to wear the yellow shift.

My child, it's the middle of the week.

Then I won't go.

You're behaving like a little child.

If I'd used that tone of voice with my parents at your age, I'd have gotten a good thrashing and nothing to eat.

Then give me a thrashing and nothing to eat.

Give me berries with my bread instead of butter.

You know very well I can't be hard on you, though I ought to be.

You laugh... but Father's angry... and one day you'll bring shame down upon me.

Get out my yellow silk shift, and my Sunday skirt and blue cape.

Then I'll be happy, and you'll be happy, and Father as well.

Mother, I'll ride to church with such dignity, and Blackie will raise his hooves gently, like in a pilgrim's procession.

I'll look neither right nor left but straight ahead, thinking of the candles and of God's holy mother.

The white stockings too, and the blue shoes with the pearls.

This is certainly no everyday shift!

Fifteen maidens sewed this.

Calm down!

Was it really 15, all at one time?


Come sit down and I'll comb your hair.

No, I'll wear my hair down, since I have these fine clothes on.

If you always get your way, you'll give the devil such joy that the saints will punish you with boils and toothaches.

Why are you always talking about the devil?

Father never does.

Because the devil seduces the innocent and seeks to destroy goodness before it can blossom.

I always say my prayers, Mother.

Who did you dance with last night?

I danced with him... him... and him.

Why do you want to know?

I had such wicked dreams last night.

What did you dream, Mother?

I wish I had dreams too.

Big, wonderful dreams.

But I never do.

Now the skirts, Mother.

The blue one, and the bright one with gold thread.

Pull harder, or it won't puff out the way it should.

You forgot the necklace.

Leave the necklace for Sunday. This is quite enough already.

You're in my light.

That's your father. Now he's angry.

Sick, are you? Mother said some such thing.

Do I look sick to you?

Pale and frail and ill?

Is this proper, sleeping past sunrise?

Father, when I get to church, I'll kiss Father Erik's hand and beg forgiveness for not arriving in time for matins.

"Mother was sick," I'll say.

"And Father was sick, and Frida was sick, so they didn't wake me.

And the candles weren't yet dipped, and Blackie wasn't yet shod."

I'll ride into the mountains with this naughty girl, and I'll say...

"I won't have such a daughter.

Imprison her in the mountains for seven years until she's been tamed.

Then I'll come take her home again... maybe."

Let Ingeri come too, Father. She never gets away from the farm.

It's a shame it's such a long way to church.

A woman like you no doubt needs a confessional closer at hand.

Says the man who had to flee the country to save his hide.

I know all about you, Professor.

Now, now.

A bird on the wing finds something, while those who sit still find only death.

I've seen both women and churches.

What were the churches like? Tall as the sky.

And big.

Not of wood, but of mortar and stone.

With windows in every color of the rainbow.

You get to come too, Ingeri.

Father promised.

Now be on your way, or you won't get there until nightfall.

Hurry up, Ingeri.

Drink some warm ale.

It's a long journey, and you've eaten nothing.

I don't want it. Give it to Ingeri. She's coming along.

When was that decided? Father said so just now.

You could at least give me a farewell kiss.

Christ our Lord, bless this young life.

These cheese cakes and candles are for Father Erik from me.

Give him my best wishes and tell him they're for "you know what."

And he should say five Our Fathers and 15 Hail Marys.

So lovely an apple orchard I know A maiden with virtues so dear Her hair like spun gold does flow Her eyes like the heavens so clear The streams flow so merrily All under the verdant trees In springtime's breeze

The little bird, he soars so high And rides the wind on his wing It is such work, such work to fly And over high mountains to spring The streams flow so merrily All under the verdant trees In springtime's breeze

Does the baby hurt you, Ingeri? What's the matter?

You'll learn for yourself one day.

Then I'll be married, and mistress of my house with honor.

We'll see about your honor when a man takes your waist or strokes your neck.

No man will get me to bed without marriage.

And if he meets you in the pasture and pulls you down behind a bush?

I'll fight my way free.

But he's stronger than you.

You're too late for matins, you know.

But better to bloom on the road than wither in church.

I'm taking candles to church.

I see. In the Holy Virgin's honor, you've bedecked and bejeweled yourself like a bride for her groom.

No, because it's such nice weather, and because Mother was against it.

Not because I expected to meet you.

Thank you for last night.

There's nothing to thank me for. Really?

No, and you know that just as well as I.

What is it, Ingeri?

I saw you two in the barn last night.

I wanted to speak to him about you, about help for you and the child.

He probably said there'd be help if you offered him your mouth, and even more if you rolled with him in the hay!

You smiled at him... and took his hand in the dance.

I danced with anyone who offered me his hand.

Forgive me for slapping you.

Don't ask me for forgiveness!

Let's turn back. Why? We must get to church.

I'll take the candles and explain to Father.

Why? Mother and Father wouldn't like that.

The forest is so dark! I can't go on!

Don't cry so hard. You could hurt the child.

Are the young maidens frightened of the forest?

I'm not frightened. I'm going to church.

May she rest in your cottage until I come back?

Look here. This is enough for both of you.

Did you think I was going to slap you again?

Are you in labor?

Worse than that.

Come, I can help.

Sit down.

It's been so long since anyone sat with me in the seat of honor.

What's your name?

Nowadays I have no name.

This is a quiet, lonely place.

You're a long way from neighbors.

I hear what I want to hear and see what I want to see.

I hear what men whisper in secret and see what they think no one sees.

You can hear it yourself, if you wish.

Just listen.

What's that pounding outside?

Three dead men riding north.

It's been a long time since a woman made my chair narrower for me.

Here is a cure for your anguish.

Here is a cure for your woe.

Blood, course no more.

Fish, stop still in the brook...

and you, eagle, in the sky.

Here is the power.

You've taken human blood.

You've made an offering to Odin.

I recognized you at once on the path by your eyes, your mouth, your hands.

But you're afraid.

You mustn't be.

I will give you strength.

What a funny little mouth harp!

I inherited it from my father, who inherited it from his, who inherited it from his.

May I please see?

Who are you?

Three brothers who lost both father and mother too early.

Who takes care of you?

We drink from the creek and eat roots from the earth.

Mother gave me a lunch sack.

My brother says... Is your brother mute?

Evil men cut his tongue out of his throat.


But I understand him.

He says only if the proud maiden will keep us company can we accept such a gift.

I must ride to church with the Holy Mother's candles.

For matins? I'm too late for that.

I overslept.

But if matins are over, there's no great hurry.

And if your dear mother made a lunch for her proud maiden, she meant for her to eat.

My brother says there's a nice glade warmed by the sun, if only the proud maiden would join us there.

O blessed Jesus, God the Father's son, you are the living bread that from heaven comes.

You bless me with this bodily bread and save my soul from eternal death.

My brother's very curious: Where is the proud maiden's farm?

It's east of the mountain and west of the forest, and so large that you must press your neck hard against your back to see the battlements.

The proud maiden must be a king's daughter.

Father wears silk garments every day, and a golden helmet, and his lance flashes like gold in the sun.

And Mother's key ring is so heavy, she can't wear it on her belt.

A little maid follows behind her all day, carrying it on a pillow.

And you three could be enchanted princes under a wood nymph's spell.

And the goats could be bears and wolves that she has transformed.

My brother says the proud maiden has such white hands.

Because princesses needn't do the washing or make fires.

My brother says the proud maiden has such a pretty neck.

To make a princess's gold necklace shine all the brighter.

My brother says the proud maiden has such a narrow waist.

Cut this up and we can all have some.

But perhaps you have no knife?

These look like Simon of Snollsta's marks.

I'm on my way to church with the Virgin's candles.

Watch the goats till we come back.

Do as I say, or you know what will happen.

If you have something to say, speak up.

We have nothing to say except that... the night is cold and the road long.

Where are you from?

The north. The northwest.

How's the winter been there?

It's been hard, and there's been much sickness.

The people are faint with hunger and can hardly leave their cottages, while the cows sink down in their stalls.

So I've heard.

You've had a crippling winter.

Where are you headed? We seek work further south.

You may sleep in the manor hall. There will be frost tonight.

Good evening.

We met the master in the yard, and he invited us in.

Sit there until he comes.

Those shoes have been through a lot.

A day can start out beautifully yet end in misery.

Rarely have I seen a morning so full of promise as this morning.

The sun shone in all its fairness and made you forget winter's rages.

My legs wanted to dance for joy... but before nightfall she lay dead.

I saw the May Queen herself ride into the sun... but she never returned.

O blessed Jesus, God the Father's son... you are the living bread that from heaven comes.

You bless me with this bodily bread and save my soul from eternal death.

Did you finish? Yes.

The northern pasture has been fertilized and plowed.

My father used to say, "Feed the clay heavy, the sand light."

Please forgive my poor little brother.

Is he like this often?

Only when we've starved for a long time.

Rub his temples and hands with salt and vinegar, and place a warm wooden lid on his belly.

Thank you kindly, but there's no need.

The less fuss made, the quicker it passes.

There'll be work here on the farm.

But we can discuss that tomorrow.

You can keep the fire burning. It'll be bitterly cold.

Good night.


Come on.

Good night.

You say your prayers, don't you, even if no one keeps after you?

You poor thing.

But God is merciful, more merciful than you think.

Say your prayers properly tonight, and don't forget them from now on.

See how the smoke trembles in the roof hole?

As if whimpering and afraid.

Yet it's only going out into the open air, where it has the whole sky to tumble about in.

But it doesn't know that.

So it cowers and trembles under the sooty ridge of the roof.

People are the same way.

They worry and tremble like leaves in a storm... because of what they know... and what they don't know.

You... shall cross a narrow plank... so narrow you can't find your footing.

Below you roars a great river.

It's black... and wants to swallow you up.

But you pass over it unharmed.

Before you lies a chasm... so deep you can't see the bottom.

Hands grope for you... but they can't reach you.

At last you stand before a mountain of terror.

It spews fire like a furnace, and a vast abyss opens at its feet.

A thousand colors blaze there: copper and iron, blue vitriol and yellow sulfur.

Flames dazzle and flash and lash at the rocks.

And all about, men leap and writhe... small as ants... for this is the furnace that swallows up murderers and evildoers.

But the very moment you think you're doomed, a hand shall grasp you and an arm circle around you, and you'll be taken far away... where evil no longer has power over you.

If Karin doesn't come home tonight... she'll surely return tomorrow.

Calm down, Märeta.

How can you tell me to calm down?

That's all you ever say.

What would have become of us if I'd always done like you?

Never troubled or worried, never praying to God.

Open your fists, Märeta.

Open your fists!

I know you're worried about Karin.

She's all I have!

But she's stayed in the village overnight without permission before.

She's all I have.

She's the only one I have left.

They struck the boy.

I thought I heard the boy scream.

It was just an owl in the forest. We've heard it all night.

This silk shift... and what's in this bag is all we have left of our sister.

She died at Candlemas.

It's a precious keepsake... but need knows no law, and we thought we would offer it to you.

We see you are a lady who understands the value of beautiful things... and this is what our sister treasured most.

It's a bit torn and spotted... but look at the embroidery.

It's surely the work of nine young maidens.

Skillful hands like yours will know how to make it like new again.

I must ask my husband... what a fitting reward would be for such a valuable garment.

Now see that you get some rest too.

What's the matter, Märeta?

The herdsmen offered it to me for sale.

It's Karin's.

There's blood on it.

What are you going to do?

First I'll put the crossbar on the outer door.

It's already done.

Will you take the farmhands with you?

Be careful!

Tell me what you know.

Kill me first.

My guilt is greater than theirs.

I willed it to happen.

Ever since I became with child, I've hated her.

The very day I prayed for it, he did it.

It was him and me, not the herdsmen.

He possessed them, and they threw themselves on her like devils, all at once.

They fell upon her and held her down... and they took her.

You saw it?

I was in the forest.

I saw it... and willed it to happen.

I picked up a rock to throw at them, but I let it fall.

And when it was over, they beat her to death with a club.

I saw that too!

Heat up the bath.

I'll get some birch branches.

Bring me the butcher's knife.


God forgive me for what I've done.

We must find Karin.

I loved her too much, Töre, more than God himself.

When I saw how she favored you, I began to hate you.

It's me God meant to punish. I bear the guilt.

You're not alone, Märeta, and God alone knows where guilt lies.

You saw it.

God, you saw it!

An innocent child's death, and my vengeance.

You allowed it to happen!

I don't understand you!

I don't understand you!

Yet still I ask your forgiveness.

I know no other way to make peace with myself than with my own hands.

I know no other way to live.

I promise you, God... here, by the dead body of my only child, I promise that as penance for my sin, I shall build you a church.

On this spot I shall build it.

Out of mortar and stone...

and with these very hands!

O Lord, receive my soul

And grant me everlasting peace Grant me everlasting peace At your side, O Lord