The Juniper Tree

1990

The Juniper Tree

Critics Consensus

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100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 17

59%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 739
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Movie Info

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 on-screen performance. The film premiered to glowing reviews at the Sundance Film Festival in 1991 and led Keene to further direct Heroine of Hell (1996) starring Catherine Keener and Barefoot to Jerusalem (2008), the latter completed after her tragically early death in 2004. Set in medieval Iceland, The Juniper Tree follows Margit (Björk in a riveting performance) and her older sister Katla (Bryndis Petra Bragadottir) as they flee for safety after their mother is burned to death for witchcraft. Finding shelter and protection with Johan (Valdimar Orn Fygenring), and his resentful young son, Jonas (Geirlaug Sunna Pormar), 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). A potent allegory for misogyny and its attendant tragedies, The Juniper Tree is a major rediscovery for art house audiences.

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Critic Reviews for The Juniper Tree

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (17)

  • Keene complicates our feelings about the characters in subtle and useful ways, treating Katla in particular as something more intriguing than a garden-variety evil stepmother, even when she's serving up stew with a cannibalistic secret ingredient.

    July 12, 2019 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • "The Juniper Tree" is absorbing enough to make one rue there weren't more.

    April 16, 2019 | Full Review…
  • The Juniper Tree can be a bit sluggish and redundant...but it only grows richer and more revolutionary as it goes along...

    March 15, 2019 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
  • The movie has a style that doesn't partake of the anticipated influences - you might expect resonances of Ingmar Bergman or Carl Dreyer, but "The Juniper Tree," which was shot in English, has a voice all its own.

    March 14, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Keene films the supernatural tale of timeless rusticity with fanatical attention to the barren and craggy seaside setting; her stunningly spare yet phantasmagorical images fuse the forces of nature with the spirit of mystery.

    March 11, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Made in stark black and white to further emphasize this sense of desolation, Keene produces some stunning compositions.

    February 18, 2020 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Juniper Tree

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