The Juniper Tree (1990): Björk stars in Little-Known Icelandic witchcraft film you need to see
Made in 1990, The Juniper Tree is a dark fairytale of magic and witchcraft, shot in black and white and featuring Björk, aged twenty at the time. It is slow and haunting and sensuous and weathered and rooted and dark.
Björk plays teenager Magrit in a mesmerising Icelandic tale of two sisters. Margit and her older sibling Katla flee their homeland after their mother is killed for practicing witchcraft. Magrit can see things that others can’t. Needing a place to stay, Katla casts a spell over a young farmer named Jóhann which makes him fall in love with her.
It’s an incredibly low budget film, but on its release in 1990 (by which time Björk was already a substantial musical star) it was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim. In many film circles, the film is now all but forgotten, but it’s one of the great witchcraft films of the ages.
The Juniper Tree, directed and written by Nietzchka Keene, is a retelling of the classic story by The Brothers Grimm. Made in 1993, it stars Björk, (in her first film role), Bryndis Petra Bragadóttir, and Valdimar Örn.
Watch the trailer below these sumptuous stills to immerse yourself in the delicately eerie atmosphere of the film, and find the full version wherever you can.