The Juniper Tree

Iceland/USA 1990. Dir: Nietzchka Keene. 78 min. DCP

“Distinctive, ambitious, and genuinely poetic.”
KEVIN THOMAS, LOS ANGELES TIMES

NEW RESTORATION! Icelandic musical phenom Björk vowed to never act again after her heartrending, Cannes-winning performance in Lars von Trier’s devastating Dancer in the Dark. It feels like a miracle, then, that her ethereal onscreen presence can be experienced anew thanks to the rediscovery and re-release of The Juniper Tree, her first feature-film role. Written and directed by the late, unsung American filmmaker and Fulbright scholar Nietzchka Keene, and based on the eponymous Brothers Grimm fairy tale, this medieval-set fable concerns a pair of sisters who flee their Icelandic village after their mother is burned for witchcraft. They find refuge with a widower and his resentful young son, who suspects the eldest sister of sorcery. Shot entirely on location in the primordial landscapes of Iceland in exquisite black-and-white, Keene’s remarkable and mystical debut — now gorgeously restored — is a potent allegory of misogyny that evokes Dreyer’s Day of Wrath and Bergman’s The Virgin Spring.


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REVIEWS

“A feminist interpretation of the Brothers Grimm fairytale that underscores the uncertain safety of women in a patriarchal society.”

AFI FEST | full review