Ten years before she stunned audiences and critics alike with her Cannes award-winning performance in Dancer in the Dark, Bjork made her film debut in The Juniper Tree. Bjorkophiles rejoice! The film is finally getting a proper theatrical release.
A stark, stunning tale of witchcraft adapted from a Brothers Grimm story, Tree has been given a 4K restoration by the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research with funding from The Film Foundation and The George Lucas Family Foundation and was recently screened at the AFI FEST in Los Angeles. The film will receive a North American theatrical release via distribution company Arbelos and will be available on digital platforms shortly thereafter.
According to the Tree synopsis provided by the AFI FEST, a 20-year-old Bjork stars as as Margit, “who escapes with sister Katla when their mother is killed for practicing witchcraft. To ensure their protection, Katla casts a love spell on a young widower, but his son is not so easily persuaded. In this insightful interpretation of the Brothers Grimm tale, (director Nietchka) Keene subverts a folkloric obsession with women and witchcraft to underscore the uncertain safety of women in a male-dominated society. Its dynamic score and rich, black-and-white cinematography imbue the sprawling Icelandic tundra with a delicate strangeness, obscuring the boundaries between reality and illusion, the living and the dead.”
Bjork shot the film in 1986 during her stint as lead singer with the Sugarcubes, years before she launched her solo career with the brilliant album, “Debut.”
Bjork won the Best Actress Award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival for Lars von Trier’s controversial Dancer in the Dark. Last year, Bjork posted on social media that the director had sexually harassed her, a claim he vehemently denied.
Her music videos remain some of the most gorgeous, envelope-pushing clips ever created. A full-scale retrospective of her work was held at the New York Museum of Modern Art in 2015.