Snowstorms - My Favorite Cinematic Backdrop
In honor of Snowstorm Stella and as most of us have been given a day of work, I am looking back at some of the greatest movie scenes set during a snowstorm.
I think we can agree that snow and especially snowstorms offer the most dramatic cinematic backdrop without needing much manipulation. Furthermore, in their inherent harshness and their inherent unlikeliness of human survival, if caught in one, they become a powerful story tool, and many great movies have used it from the Shining to Fargo to Day After Tomorrow.
Arguably the most famous and most successful snow storm scene is the Maze Scene at the end of The Shining:
Of course, I am featuring Fargo where snow and the blizzards are such an integral part of the movie and they story. And it does not mean that the characters need to be inside the storm or the cold as in the last scene when Marge remarks on what a nice day it is:
I would have listed Fargo, the TV show, before Fargo, the movie, if I had been able to find the full scene from Season 1 Episode 6 with my favorite snowstorm scene when Molly chases Malvo and is shot by Gus by mistake. However, I found the beginning of that scene in which the snowstorm adds to the cinematic drama and value:
Obviously, snowstorms and blizzard can and are used often more plainly as the protagonist of the film and are what the hero has to battle. The Day After Tomorrow’s Super Freeze is one of the best examples of our characters having to fight for their survival:
Also, in McCabe & Mrs. Miller the snowstorm is used for its brute deadly force, but also as a powerful juxtaposition to the town fighting a fire. This combination of snow and fire is also used in a quite different movie, Die Hard 2:
I am listing Hanna’s opening scene less because there is a snowstorm, but because of snow’s scenic quality. The scene is by far one of my favorite opening scene in a movie, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that it is just incredibly beautiful to look at because of the wintery landscape:
Another great combination is the snowstorm and a ski chase as in the destruction of the snow fortress in Inception:
And since I am listing the ski chase in Inception, I am going to list my favorite ski chase of all times, which is in James Bond’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service which does not include a snow storm but lots of snow.
But snow and snowstorms are also magical! And the blizzard in Legend is a clear outward representations of the inner tumult and transformation of the central characters:
In the Empire Strikes Back, the snowstorm not only acts as enforcing how far the rebels are willing to go to fight the evil empire by hiding on a planet that is completely inhabitable and how they can actually have a chance since they can survive there, but it also delivers a great opening to a movie:
And I will leave you with one that is much less sad but equally as magical, the snowstorm created my Edward in Edward Scissorhands:
So, if you don’t still have to do work remotely today, why don’t you catch one of the movies above. Might be the last time this winter since we know by tomorrow it could already be 70 degrees again. Enjoy being snowed and stay warm!