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Miss Julie (The Criterion Collection)

4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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The Criterion Collection
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Swedish filmmaker Alf Sjöberg s visually innovative, Cannes Grand Prix winning adaptation of August Strindberg s renowned 1888 play (censored upon its first release in the United States for its adult content) brings to scalding life the excoriating words of the stage s preeminent surveyor of all things rotten in the state of male-female relations. Miss Julie vividly depicts the battle of the sexes and classes that ensues when a wealthy businessman s daughter (Anita Bjork, in a fiercely emotional performance) falls for her father s bitter servant. Celebrated for its unique cinematic style, Sjöberg s film was an important turning point in Scandinavian cinema.


New, restored high-definition digital transfer

New video essay by film historian Peter Cowie

Archival television interview with director Alf Sjöberg

A 2006 television documentary about the play Miss Julie and author August Strindberg

Theatrical trailer

New and improved English subtitle translation

PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by film scholars Peter Matthews and Birgitta Steene


The caged finch that figures in Miss Julie's credit sequence sums up August Strindberg's tragic heroine all too well--she may be "jewel of the house", but she's also trapped. In Alf Sjöberg's expressionist adaptation, Anita Björk plays the high-born Julie to Ulf Palme's laborer's son Jean (with her feline features, Björk resembles a fair-haired Vivien Leigh). As much as the controlling aristocrat and social climbing valet detest each other, desire cannot be denied. Other impediments include the times (late-19th century Sweden), the ever-present staff (notably Max von Sydow's lusty groom), and Jean's upright fiancée (Märta Dorff). Unlike the thematically similar Lady Chatterly's Lover, their affair blooms and withers over the course of a single Midsummer's Eve, though Sjöberg's dissolves to dreams and memories lends their brief encounter an epic dimension (Jean has been smitten with Julie since childhood).

Like his protégé Ingmar Bergman, Sjöberg divided his time between stage and screen--the same as his theatrically trained leads. Though they remain fully clothed, suggestions of sado-masochism led American censors to ban the film in 1951. Shot by August's descendant, Göran Strindberg, the Cannes Grand Prize winner bears the otherworldly look of Bergman's The Magician combined with the hothouse atmosphere of Elia Kazan's A Streetcar named Desire. As Peter Cowie notes in the illuminating video essay, Strindberg's stormy marriage to a baroness inspired his masterpiece (not for nothing did he title his autobiography The Son of a Servant). In the booklet, Birgitta Steene puts the playwright's career in further perspective, while Peter Mathews does the honors for the director. The supplements conclude with a short Sjöberg interview from 1966, a moving made-for-TV documentary from 2006 (Miss Julie: 100 Years in the Limelight), and the US theatrical trailer. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Anita Bjork, Palme, Von Sydow
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Restored, Subtitled
  • Language: Swedish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: January 22, 2008
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000XPSC0W
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,432 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Miss Julie (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
Some films are so utterly faultless and brilliantly made that one is almost at a loss to find enough superlatives with which to praise them, and yet, at the same time keep it credible. MISS JULIE is one such film, and it seems entirely fitting that one of the greatest Swedish films ever made should be based on the work of one of Sweden's greatest writers. Every single aspect of this film is perfect; the black and white photography, the wonderful musical score by Dag Wiren, the acting from all the cast, but in particular from Anita Bjork who sets a standard in playing Miss Julie that could hardly be bettered. The play which provides the screenplay is of course devastating with the inexorable interplay between class and rank, and human desire and lust overlapping and intertwining, and too, the now almost forgotten concept of "duty" and "honour". If you like movies that make you think, eat away at your heart and memory long after you have seen them, then I cannot recommend MISS JULIE more highly. In the fifty years since it was made, its brilliance has not diminished one jot. A masterpiece and a film to truly treasure. My one regret with the VHS print is that although the sequence is intact, the lettering from the original credit titles has disappeared.
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Format: DVD
Even though by using the expression "Age of Glamour" people usually refer to the period between two great European wars, in the cinema world the age of glamour, I think, came around mid 1960's. Surely during the first half of XX century scores of cheap B&W melodrama movies were produced, but after the "new wave cinema" and "kitchen sink realism" have petered out it became more and more difficult to produce anything serious even in the indie niche market, and since late 80's the whole movie industry essentially became more and more children-oriented.

Films like "Fröken Julie" bring us back to the years when the movies were still created "in earnest" and watched not "for fun" or "for kicks" or to get thrilled or because of the "special effects" - but to feel empathy and to understand other human beings. Film is based on August Strindberg's play, which was written, like many of his works, to express his frustration and spite he felt towards women. While this attitude won't find too many open supporters today, it's difficult to deny Strindberg's work its seriousness and expressive power.

The film "Fröken Julie" is definitely a match to the play in every sense. It's very realistic, showing life in Sweden with love and knowledge of detail, but also - with uncompromising frankness. Strindberg play's burning misogyny is fully transferred to the screen. Countess Berta, miss Julie's mother (Lissi Alandh) is shown as a live monstrosity, destroying the life of her husband and making her daughter insecure, manipulative and cruel towards everybody and anybody.

Alf Sjöberg, the director, did not produce a commentary to the play, his approach was - to be true to the Strindberg's letter and spirit. The film was produced in 1951, and its influence on Bergman's "Wild Strawberries" (1957) is beyond doubt.
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Format: VHS Tape
Strindberg seemed to anticipate the ontological loneliness, the boredom, the immature frivolity and the no sense of living around a impetuous young who having been rejected by her fiancée decides to flirt and eventually seduce her servant.

If you watch this film with the glasses of the actual society, you will find it something dated, but if you observe from another perspective, you will find interesting clues that may lead you to link the essence of the Existentialism (Think in Albert Camus The foreigner) and three outstanding films released after: Joseph Losey ` s The Servant, Bergman 's The silence and Bertolucci `s Last Tango based on Alberto Moravia.

It's a crime to arouse a passion only to satisfy a caprice.
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Format: DVD
The best ever version by a man who both directed plays and films.The plays central location in the kitchen is opened up into the surrounding landscape.The two chief characters are brilliant,both vulnerable and vying for the upper position.In a survival of the fittest only one can win.The brilliant use of flashback,dream sequences,people from different times in the same scene.The subtle use of lighting to heighten the psycho-drama,the beautiful fluidity of the cinematography,great movement and framing.There are scenes here that Orson Welles must have raided for his 2 best films,Citizen Cane and The Magnificent Andersons.The film depicts the gender politics and class consciousness of this forerunner of DHLawrence.What is especially interesting is the way images dissolve into other images bringing to the fore(more than in the play) memories of the past of the two lead characters.There is a good dream sequence where she(Bjork) is on a high rock,can't move,fears falling,then falls;his(Palme's) dream is of a man always climbing to the top most branch and can never reach the fruit.He longs to be loved by her,longs for the unattainnable.She knows that sex is the great fall.Bergman followed on and overtook Sjoberg as the magus of Swedish cinema but this film has the structure of a well made play with a mercurial swiftness of image and the conveyance of emotion that could have taught the younger man,his protege, a few things.
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