Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Juniper Tree

The Juniper Tree is a 1990 Icelandic film with a small cast of five actors, Björk, Bryndis Petra Bragadóttir, Guðrún S. Gísladóttir, Valdimar Örn Flygenring and introducing Geirlaug Sunna Þormar. It was written and directed by Nietzchka Keene and based on the fairy tale "The Juniper Tree" collected by the Brothers Grimm.

The film was shot in Iceland with an extraordinary 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 screened for the "Grand Jury Prize" at the Sundance Film Festival. Rhino Home Video released the film on VHS in 1995 and on DVD in 2002.

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 S. 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.

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
Editing by Nietzchka Keene
Distributed by Rhino Home Video
Release date(s) USA: 10 April 1990
Iceland: 12 February 1993
Running time 78 min approx.

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