Sunday, April 21

Special Engagements ArchiveStaff Picks (past events)

The Juniper Tree

Special Engagement

New Restoration!

Friday, April 19 – Sunday, April 21

Amy Sloper, Collections Archivist at Harvard Film Archive, will discuss the restoration project at Saturday’s 7pm screening.

1990 • dir Nietzchka Keene w/Björk, Bryndis Petra Bragadóttir, Valdimar Örn Fygenring, Geirlaug Sunna Þormar • 78 min • DCP

We are excited to welcome back this haunting Icelandic supernatural fairy tale/witchcraft drama – 25 years after it first premiered in Boston at the Brattle. An unsung talent in her lifetime, director, professor, and Fulbright scholar Nietzchka Keene’s stark, stunning debut feature is loosely based on a Brothers Grimm fairy tale of the same name, and stars music and fashion icon Björk in her first on-screen performance. The film premiered to glowing reviews at the Sundance Film Festival in 1991 and Keene went on to direct just two more features before 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 (Bragadottir) as they flee for safety after their mother is burned to death for witchcraft. Finding shelter and protection with Johan (Fygenring), and his resentful young son, Jonas (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, 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 in this new restoration by the Wisconsin Center for Film & Theater Research and The Film Foundation, with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation.

Staff Pick: Greg, Erica – “I saw this restoration while at the AMIA conference at the beginning of last December and it was haunting and beautiful and bizarre.”

“Keene is doing the right kind of critical revisionism, adding rather than subtracting—reframing the uncanny, contorted alien logic of folktales within a politically updated dynamic, offering her own interpretation of an old story while honoring its lingering richness.”
– Mark Asche, Film Comment

“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.”
– Richard Brody, New Yorker

More reviews →

Ticket Information:

Click a showtime to purchase tickets:

Friday 4/19
at 5:15, 7:00 PM
Saturday 4/20
at 1:00, 3:00, 5:00, 7:00 PM
Sunday 4/21
at 1:00, 3:00 PM

Brattle passes accepted. Special, Usher, and Producer members may reserve seats in advance [instructions]. Regular & Dual Members may redeem passes at the box office pending availability.