Margit and her older sister, Katla, flee their homeland in Iceland after their mother is killed for practicing witchcraft. Needing a place to stay, Katla casts a spell over a young farmer ... See full summary »
Margit and her older sister, Katla, flee their homeland in Iceland after their mother is killed for practicing witchcraft. Needing a place to stay, Katla casts a spell over a young farmer named Jóhann which makes him fall in love with her, ensuring the wellbeing of herself and Margit. Jóhann's son, Jóhas, sees through Katla's plan and pleads for his father to make her go away. To help Jóhas in his struggle, Margit's mother appears to Margit in visions and provides a magic amulet of protection for the boy. Will Jóhas be able to rid his family of Katla or will she continue to control them with her witchcraft? Written by
Where did she go?
She became ashes and left with the wind.
And her soul?
Her soul... was tied with the heart of a bird.
And the tread will hold forever?
Until the bird's heart breaks.
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The Juniper tree is a tale based on whether or not witchcraft exists, and its also based on a tale by the same title written by the Brothers Grimm. It's a pretty nifty little movie, unknown by many, found by only Björk fans most likely, but its really good, and a great insight into Icelandic living. In fact, it was Bryndis Petra Gradadóttir who told director Nietzchka Keene that this movie captured pure and realistic Iceland culture.
Its a film about two daughters who flee their homeland after their mother is stoned and burnt for being a witch. Margit (Björk) and Katla (Bryndis Petra Gradadóttir) find a man by the name of Jóhann (Valdimar Örn Flygenring) and casts a spell on him that will make him fall in love with Katla. Jónas (Geirlaug Sunna Þormar), the son of Jóhann gets suspicious that Katla is a witch, and thinks Katla is trying to destroy the everlasting spirit of the deceased mother to Jónas spirit inside Jóhann. Meanwhile Jónas befriends Margit, and Margit is seeing visions of her mother's ghosts. Trust me, if the names were like John and Beth it would be a lot more coherent than what I just wrote.
Performances from the entire cast are great, well not astonishing but good enough for such a low budget film. Björk, Bryndis and Jónas particularly do great performances, of course the lovely Björk is a little weird in this movie, but isn't she always in real life too? So there is no difference between reality and this film when it comes to Björk's personality. Which is funny, because when asked about this she says it was much of a dream because she was just two weeks after pregnancy with Sindri, and her "out of it" self at the time works well with her character of Margot. So her character is somewhat incidentally made into a mysterious young, kind hearted witch because she was so deluded at the time.
It is also really well written, not so much the pacing but dialogue and characters are well placed in the film. I like the simple lines used when the entire cast has conversations with one another, as they are simple and atmospheric lines, and Björk does a great job on making her sad lines sound as they are supposed to "She didn't mean to hurt him, let her go" which is pretty eye watering.
The tale, in a way, ends in tragedy, but it doesn't leave you completely bleak. It is a confusing movie, it took me three viewings before I completely understood this film, but I love it either way. It's a bit muddled mainly because we as the western world are so unfamiliar to such culture and witchcraft like this. Either way, the movie is very good and works well with what it orbits around.
Although this is a quite film and its only recognition is Björk, it is a great movie, although will bore some with it's slow pace movement, but it is a very beautiful country it is filmed in, Iceland, and deserves everlasting shots on such a wonderful country. I highly recommend this film to anyone who likes Björk, because whether or not you're bound to like it with her acting.
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