It’s a cold world out there. Your heating may not be working and your toes might be about to fall off… but allow us here at FilmSoc to entice you with an eclectic list of icy films this London snowfall has brought to mind.
1. Amarcord (1973)
Let’s start this right. In 1930’s Fascist Italy. Oh, El Duce, I remember, a m’arcord. This film is one of Fellini’s finest and most beautiful. It is entertaining and captivating while boasting some strong resonant moments. The coming of Spring. The first snow of Winter. The film is ripe and fresh and sucks you into its changing seasonal climate through the lens of some classic Fellini characters. The young boy, the buxom town tart. A master filmmaker.
2. Ice Age 1, 2 and 3 (2002, 2006, 2009)
But of course! The polar ice sheets are expanding, growing even! The Earth’s surface is slowly coating itself in a supreme, clean, cocaine white. You’re in bed, wondering whether to leave or stay. Protect your shelter or migrate to a warmer habitat where you’ll last this icy cold winter. If only you had a rag-tag team of lovable extinct animals to keep you company and inevitably leave you to be with their own kind. Ice Age is a tale of togetherness and determination. Something you show your kids to teach them morals.
3. Fargo (1996)
We’re almost glad that it’s sub-Arctic levels outside because it gives us a reason to put Fargo on this list! Am I watching a static screen or am I watching the Coen brothers’ cult-classic? Who knows. Fargo is a black-coffee-on-a-snowy-morning comedy. It’s violently bonkers and darkly funny. The film boasts some seriously snowy visuals, so you won’t be disappointed. Even if it had no snowy visuals, you won’t be disappointed.
4. The Shining (1980)
If you’re in the mood for a beautiful psychological horror (terror) you know you should watch because you’re tired of nodding when people bring it up, Kubrick’s masterpiece will leave you exacerbated.
5. Dead Poet’s Society (1989)
A beautiful, heartfelt schoolboy drama, a tribute to the creative spirit and working against the established order, it also features a very young boyish Ethan Hawke bawling his eyes out in the snow in one of the few instances of realistic film ‘crying’, which is alone worth the price of admission.
6. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Where do you go when you’ve just blown up a Death Star? A freezer, apparently. Shiver along with Luke and Han on the ice planet of Hoth while enjoying the best Star Wars film since, well, the first one.
7. Frozen (2013)
Just two sisters, two princesses, Elsa and Anna. One sister has cryokinetic powers capable of manipulating water into ice. The other sister is Rapunzel. Oh wait…that’s Tangled. Anyone else make that mistake? Anyway, it’s topical! Watch with your freakish doll-looking friends.
8. Snowpiercer (2013)
An attempt to turn back the clock on global warming backfires extraordinarily – the world is frozen, all life extinguished. All life but the passengers on the Snowpiercer, a state-of-the-art train set on an endless course, circumventing the world again and again. But all is not well on this locomotive, with the rich living it up at the front and the poor languishing at the back. Chris Evans has had enough, and what better way to warm him up than a bit of cold-blooded class warfare. The snow will turn red.
9. Ikiru (1952)
Possibly the most underseen of Akira Kurosawa’s masterpieces, featuring at its centre the story of Takashi Shimura’s Kanji Watanabe, a meek, mundane, depressed government bureaucrat is diagnosed with cancer and blindly pursues some will and meaning to his existence. A touch too bleak for casual viewing, one might think, but the film’s most iconic scene of Shimura in the snow on a swing, completely earns this tough viewing experience.
10. Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001)
Surprisingly enough, the Arctic is not the place to look for beaches and pina coladas. The first film ever made entirely in Inuktitut adapts the Inuit legend of Atanarjuat who, as the title suggests, must run – through miles upon miles of gorgeously-shot snow and ice.
11. Scott Pilgrim vs The World (2010)
Who else thinks that Michael Cera managed to carve out a space for himself and his awkward teen-cum-man vibe? It wasn’t a type before he made it one. Anyway, Scott Pilgrim (Cera) must battle 7 deadly ex-boyfriends to win the heart of his pink haired manic-pixie-dream-girl, Ramona Flowers. Videogame themes and graphics feature. Heavily.
12. Citizen Kane (1952)
‘Rosebud’ mutters an old and decrepit Charles Foster Kane before taking his last breath. What could it mean? We are supposed to be wondering. The film takes us back and shows us Kane’s rise and fall. From an innocent young boy ripped away from his mother to an idealistic wide-eyed yuppie to a business mogul churning out salacious news for a hungry audience to an old recluse. Kane builds a palace, Xanadu, to live in and segregates himself from the world that destroyed his innocence. A classic film that everybody should watch. At the very least, to say you’ve seen it.
13. McCabe and Mrs Miller (1972)
Like many a revisionist Western, McCabe and Mrs Miller swaps out the sunbeaten deserts of the classic cowboy flick for the frozen wastes of Washington State. In an effort to warm the frigid denizens of McCabe’s new locale he sets up a brothel, and what follows is a stirring examination of masculinity and its ice-like fragility. Especially impressive is Zsigmond’s hazy photography, emphasising both the cosy warmth indoors and the sharp frost beyond. But besting even this is Warren Beatty’s enormous coat. Doubling his width, it probably encompasses the hide of an entire bear, and looks as cumbersome as that sounds. But boy does it look warm.
14. Transsiberian (2008)
Take me back to the Winter of 2009, watching this icy thriller with my mother in our living room. An American couple composed of sharp, cold Emily Mortimer and dad-esque Woody Harrelson take the Transsiberian train from China to Russia. They befriend another couple on the train, your typical freaky druggy shady Europeans. Funny how snow can make everything seem sinister, like being trapped on a train with a very psychologically damaged duo. Tensions are high and they stay high and cold like the taught strings of a frozen guitar, ready to crack and snap. An hour and a half later, I emerged, a hardened eleven-year old girl.
15. Napoleon (1972)
16. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
You’ve seen this one! Have you not? Have you at least seen those stills of Johnny Depp with the crazy black hair and the huge metal nail clippers where his hands should be? Directed by Tim Burton (duh), Edward Scissorhands is a darkly Romantic Gothic film. It’s the Frankenstein of the 90’s set in snow-covered American suburbia. It’s every girl’s teen dream. Did anyone else grow up fantasising about Johny Depp stroking your soft warm face with his cold sharp metallic hands, the same hands that you know will never touch you anywhere else? Sign me up for a tetanus shot!
17. Dumb and Dumber (1994)
A film so dumb it’s kind of great. It also imparts some valid lessons for our current weather: avoid Harry’s mistakes and don’t get your tongue stuck licking any icy metal poles (I know it’s a big ask). Also… A Christmas Story, anyone?
18. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
I know, I know, of all things, here’s a film about “global warming”. Clearly a lie fed to us by the government to make us conscious of our impact on this “Earth”. Surely if this “global warming” were real I’d be letting my scantily clad thighs melt into the hot felt seats of the tube by now? Anyway, Dennis Quaid plays a palaeoclimatologist (?) who just might be the one to save the world from this “global warming” induced catastrophic melting of the polar ice caps and subsequent flooding of the earth’s entire surface. The film is kind of terrifying, perhaps because it could actually happen. Meanwhile, Jack’s son, Sam, played by Jake Gyllenhaal is an anxious and adorable teen on his way to complete an academic decathlon as gigantic storm hits New York City.
19. The Hateful Eight (2015)
A blizzard roars over rural Wyoming. Seeking refuge from the cold, a wide variety of characters find themselves in a remote haberdashery, with four wooden walls and a door that won’t stay shut between them and the elements. But maybe some company is worse than a minor case of frostbite. Though it isn’t the witty dialogue or escalating drama that that comes to mind when thinking of this film. No, it’s the image of a man walking through the tundra, completely naked. Now that’s frosty.
20. The Gold Rush (1925)
Despite being over 90 years old, The Gold Rush remains intimately relatable. A snowstorm is raging outside, a fierce wind howling in its wake. You’re locked tight in your room – you don’t have a boiler, but you’re making do. You’re about ready to wait out the storm. But then you realize your fatal mistake. The cupboards are bare, the stocks exhausted. There’s no going outside, but your roommate’s hungry eyes are starting to take an unsettling interest in you. There’s only one solution; it’s shoes for dinner.
21. The Thing
Heralded by critics as “instant junk”, “a wretched excess”, and a “barf-bag movie,” The Thing is the perfect movie to watch during this god-forsaken barrage of snow. The movie follows a group of researchers in Antarctica (snow!) as they encounter an evil alien parasite they cleverly call “Thing.” The team eventually succumb to paranoia as they realise any one of them could be the Thing and that trusting people never works out. Rob Bottin, who designed the creature and largely handled special effects, was hospitalised for exhaustion, double pneumonia and a bleeding ulcer because of his production workload, only to be torn apart by critics and gain nothing from the experience. The Thing is one of the most disgusting movies you’ll ever see – happy watching!
22. Gangs of New York
If you’re one of those chics who’s screensaver is a doll-faced Leonardo DiCaprio, this is the film for you. Also if you’re a fan of seasoned director, Martin Scorsese, this film is also for you. Set in 19th Century Manhattan in the slum neighbourhood of ‘Five Points’, Leo plays a sexy badboy named Amsterdam newly returned to his childhood hometown with a score to settle. He will avenge his father’s death by killing Bill, the Butcher (Daniel day Lewis) in an gang war. Leo has an Irish “accent” and in one scene he wears his hair in a low Samurai-style bun. I’m into it. Watch out for snowy scenes in a New York setting you’ve never seen before.
23. Willow (1988)
Doesn’t the snow chase scene from this fantasy classic just make you want to hop onto a sled? In this weather, it’s also easy to spiritually identify with Val-Kilmer-As-A-Snowball.
24. SLC Punk! (1998)
Sean’s bad acid trip makes for great comedy. Snow features for a brief but iconic moment in this American cult film as he sits under-dressed and intoxicated on his front lawn.
25. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)
So much snowiness in this childhood gem! From Lucy’s first magical forray through the wardrobe into the realm of Narnia, to the evil iciness of Tilda Swinton’s Snow Queen, our current weather phenomenon is showcased in all its forms.