RoosterVision: Nietzchka Keene’s THE JUNIPER TREE, blu-ray edition (Arbelos)

An ongoing series of articles spotlighting movies, music, art, comics, and other assorted media.

…an ongoing series of articles spotlighting movies, music, art, comics, and other assorted media that we at Rooster Republic Press find ourselves enjoying. Once a week, on Thursdays, we will showcase new and old works and, hopefully, help spread the word on great stuff you might otherwise miss out on.

RoosterVision was previously the name of our non-fiction imprint, and since those titles and that line of books are no longer, we have decided to resurrect RoosterVision for the purpose of this showcase. Enjoy!

For our second entry in our “RoosterVision” articles, we’ve decided to spotlight the restoration of Nietzchka Keene’s THE JUNIPER TREE, available on Blu-ray from Arbelos. Originally released in 1990, this 2019 4K restoration should see the extraordinary film find a much wider audience.

THE JUNIPER TREE is a breathtaking entry in the world of arthouse cinema. The cinematography is quite arresting, shot in a stark black and white that leans heavily into the story’s fairy tale roots, undoubtedly enhanced by the Icelandic landscapes. The film is a visual feast, short on dialogue, but long on atmosphere. Stronger for it, in our opinion.

Loosely based on the Brothers Grimm story of the same name, Nietzchka Keene’s film is a revisionist fairy tale, exploring a young woman’s fears after her mother’s death, witchcraft as an excuse for misogyny, and is perhaps best known as the acting debut of Björk, who is wonderful throughout the film.

Arbelos is fairly new to the scene of physical media distribution, and their catalogue consists of only 3 titles, thus far, but each release is impressive. The Criterion Collection has been positioned for many, many years as the leading voice in world, arthouse, and experimental cinema, but Arbelos stands to give them a real run for their money. Besides THE JUNIPER TREE, their restoration and release of SÁTÁNTANGÓ is essential, in our opinion, and we will likely talk about that film (and book) at a later date. Arbelos is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

The Blu-ray release of THE JUNIPER TREE also includes a 14-page booklet, consisting of thoughtful essays and recollections of making the feature. Unfortunately, Nietzchka Keene passed in 2004, and there was a real danger of the film slipping from memory, a point noted in the booklet’s closing essay, wherein Amy Sloper notes the film’s “powerful evocation of the cultural isolation of visionary women.”


We cannot recommend this film enough!

Please, check out the Arbelos site HERE.

And, as always, thanks for reading!

See you next Thursday for our next RoosterVision entry!

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