An unsung talent in her lifetime, director, professor and Fulbright scholar Nietzchka Keene’s stark, stunning debut feature The Juniper Tree is loosely based on a Brothers Grimm fairy tale of the same name, and stars Björk in her first feature film performance.
Set in medieval Iceland, The Juniper Tree follows Margit (Björk in a riveting performance) and her older sister as they flee for safety after their mother is burned to death for witchcraft. Finding shelter and protection with Johan and his resentful young son, Jonas, the sisters help form an impromptu family unit that’s soon strained by Katla’s burgeoning sorcery.
Photographed entirely on location in the stunning landscapes of Iceland in spectacular black-and-white by Randy Sellars, The Juniper Tree is a deeply atmospheric film, evocative of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Day of Wrath and Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, and filled with indelible waking dream sequences (courtesy of legendary experimental filmmaker Pat O’Neill). — Arbelos