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The Juniper Tree

A teenage Björk stars in this Brothers Grimm adaptation, which finds witchcraft thriving in the wilds of medieval Iceland.

Dir-Scr Nietzchka Keene
Prod Nietzchka Keene, Patrick Moyroud
With Björk Guðmundsdóttir, Bryndis Petra Bragadóttir, Valdimar Örn Flygenring
USA
1990
78min
Sales Arbelos

When their mother is killed for suspected witchery, sisters Katla and Margit go searching for a new home. Soon Katla entrances a shepherd widower and becomes his wife, while Margit spends her days in nature and begins to experience visions of her own. Opening with a T.S. Eliot quote, The Juniper Tree is suffused with a literary sensibility in the form of poetry, songs and bible readings. This Bergman-esque folk tale was the feature debut by Nietzchka Keene, a female director who made two more films before dying of cancer, aged 52, in 2004. As Margit, the young Björk is a major presence and the film shows a strong connection – in its mythic storytelling and its evocation of landscape as rough, tangible and salty – to the drama and themes of her subsequent art and music.

Kate Taylor

Additional information

Restored by the Wisconsin Center for Film & Theater Research and The Film Foundation, with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation.

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