Horror giant Wes Craven reportedly claimed that the violence of his debut feature The Last House On The Left (1969) is a reaction by his generation to the horrors of the Vietnam war. While this justification seems a trifle pretentious and self-serving, it does raise the issue of why it is that depictions of violence in film need to be justified at all.
Why is it that Richard Curtis never feels compelled to speak about how the goings on in Darfur dictate that he must produce sentimental comedies involving smug upper class people? Is the production of a third Ice Age film a direct reaction to the death of Baby P? Were it not for the death of Princess Margaret, would Woody Allen ever have made Vicky Christina Barcelona?
A lot of the time, the way in which we justify things is only as interesting as the fact that we feel obliged to justify them at all. This is the issue that Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring (1960) seeks to address.