The Juniper Tree (film)

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The Juniper Tree
The Juniper Tree.jpg
DVD cover
Icelandic Einitréð
Directed by Nietzchka Keene
Produced by Nietzchka Keene
Written by Nietzchka Keene
Starring Björk Guðmundsdóttir
Bryndis Petra Bragadóttir
Guðrún Gísladóttir
Valdimar Örn Flygenring
Geirlaug Sunna Þormar
Music by Larry Lipkis
Cinematography Randolph Sellars
Edited by Nietzchka Keene
Distributed by Rhino Home Video
Release date
  • April 10, 1990 (1990-04-10) (US)
  • February 12, 1993 (1993-02-12) (Iceland)
Running time
78 minutes
Country Iceland
United States
Language English

The Juniper Tree is a 1990 Icelandic fantasy art house drama film directed and written by Nietzchka Keene. Based on the fairy tale "The Juniper Tree" collected by the Brothers Grimm, it stars a small cast of five actors, Björk, Bryndis Petra Bragadóttir, Guðrún Gísladóttir, Valdimar Örn Flygenring and Geirlaug Sunna Þormar. The film was selected to compete for the Grand Jury Prize – Dramatic at the 1990 Sundance Film Festival.


The Juniper Tree is set in Iceland and portrays the story of two sisters, Margit (Björk Guðmundsdóttir) and her elder sister Katla (Bryndis Petra Bragadóttir), who escape their home after their mother (Guðrún Gísladóttir) is stoned and burned for witchcraft. They go where no one knows them, and find Jóhann (Valdimar Örn Flygenring), a young widower who has a son called Jónas (Geirlaug Sunna Þormar). Katla uses magical powers to seduce Jóhann and they start living together. Margit and Jónas become friends. However, Jónas does not accept Katla as his stepmother and tries to convince his father to leave her. Katla's magic power is too strong and even though he knows he should leave her, he can't. Margit's mother appears to her in visions and Jónas' mother appears as a raven and to bring him a magical feather.

Production and release[edit]

The Juniper Tree was shot in Iceland with an extraordinarily small budget in the summer of 1986, but because of financial problems later on in the editing room, it was not released until 1990, when it competed for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

The film was shot in black and white to highlight its dramatic content and as a resource to place the story in the Middle Ages. Some scenes were filmed in the Seljalandsfoss, Iceland.


Greg Muskewitz of gave the film "B" from A+ to F scale, and praised Björk's performance, stating "Björk is adorable to watch, so self-consciousless, fearless and unaffected. There is nothing factitious about her innocent, unadorned performance."[1] Dan Willard from Films By The Year gave the film a seven out of ten.[2]

This film has become famous among Björk's fans after she gained international renown by the early 90's.[citation needed]

Home media[edit]

Rhino Home Video released the film on VHS in 1995 and on DVD in 2002. It was also released on DVD in 2003 in Japan.

As of April 2016, The Juniper Tree is available to rent on DVD from Netflix.


External links[edit]