Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB .
Iceland, 1990. Screenplay by Nietzchka Keene. Cinematography by Randolph Sellars. Produced by Nietzchka Keene. Music by Larry Lipkis. Production Design by Dominique Polain. Costume Design by Nanna Luisa Zophaniasdóttir. Film Editing by Nietzchka Keene.
This dark and moody fable is loosely based on a Grimm Brothers fairy tale of the same name, benefiting greatly from the gorgeous Icelandic scenery captured in haunting black and white by director Nietzchka Keene. Two sisters, the younger of them played by pop singer Björk, leave their home village after their mother is executed for witchcraft, afraid of the same fate themselves. Wandering the landscape in search of safety, they find a widowed farmer living alone with his young son who has never emotionally recovered from his mother’s death. Older sister Bryndis Petra Bragadóttir casts a spell to make the farmer fall in love with her, thereby giving her and her sister somewhere to live, but the magic doesn’t work on the young boy and he and his new stepmother are constantly at odds. Things go from dark to grim as this conflict is never resolved, while Bjork does what we expect her to do, wandering the fields having visions that she can’t explain to anyone with any clarity. It’s a small film in a minor tone, its images will last in your mind much longer than its narrative content and it is certainly not something the kids will like, but it has its moments.