Christine Champ December 1, 2010
Snow days, snow nights, snowing ice sculptures … in the spirit of the frosty season we’ve rounded up 10 spellbinding cinematic spectacles of snow (in no particular order).
Let the Right One In
Softly falling flakes illuminate the still blackness of a seemingly endless night like descending specters. This brooding Swedish vampire horror-romance is haunted by the loveliness of its snowy landscape — arguably the film’s most compelling character. Though the American remake isn’t quite as alluring, its snow-shadowed tableau is equally arresting and creepy.
When Christopher Nolan’s psychological thriller nears the apex of its mind-bending arc it summons a storm of relentless, blinding powder to ignite the final fuse. The hostile weather mirrors and amplifies the treacherousness and urgency of Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and crew’s mission, and the ferocity of the forces that seek to stop them.
A car, a desperate woman, and a river shrouded in snow and ice make for a frozen, desolate, and dangerous borderland. Single mom Ray (Melissa Leo) must traverse this merciless continent again and again to save herself, her home, and her child — a continent you suspect, like most of the other threats she meets, could swallow her up in a silent instant and leave no trace of her behind.
Drab communist uniforms, homes in disrepair, a forest of barren winter branches … the Bolshevik Revolution doesn’t intuitively seem the ideal setting for star-crossed romance. Yet stunning snowy surroundings and a grand house abandoned by humans but embraced by a jewel-like veneer of ice — inside and out — make Doctor Zhivago a dramatic and dazzling fairy tale.
Winters are pretty brutal in North Dakota — dontcha know, yah! Eerie mists, mysterious tracks and mounds … snow gives this kooky thriller a chilling ambiance.
30 Days of Night
It’s evident we’re fond of flakes and flurries, and apparently so are vampires (Swedish or not), especially when they’re accompanied by 30 days of night. Director David Slade and cinematographer Jo Willems transform an ominously lovely snowbound arctic outpost into a ghoulish bloodsucker stalking ground.
Hell is a snow-covered hedge maze — the kind where if your possessed daddy hacked you to death with an ax, no one would hear you holler. Hazy, luminous corridors of snow, fleeing powder-formed footprints, and gruesome drift-buried bodies all make The Shining‘s finale hauntingly unforgettable.
Is a snow shower sculpted by scissor hands any less magical than an atmospherically manufactured winter wonderland? The look on flaxen-haired Kim’s (Winona Ryder) face as she joyfully twirls says definitely not.
Snow Falling on Cedars
Snow-frosted cedars and white-blanketed earth are just two of many nature brushstrokes this tender-hearted movie uses to tell its thrilling romantic tale. They echo with poetic soul and sensibility, and imbue everything with a palpable sense of place and passion.
The Empire Strikes Back
The only way to truly experience the beauty of a blizzard is from the gutted belly of a tauntaun. And if you’re looking for a location for a laser-firing galactic showdown, you can’t go wrong with a snow-crusted alien planet.
Don’t let the title mislead you. Snow Angels is another film that spotlights the cold, unforgiving, deadly despair of a world entombed in snow, and human hearts strangled by sorrow and regret.
And these are only the tip of the movie snowscape iceberg. Did we miss any of your flurry-filled faves? Let us know!
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