Greetings from Banff, Alberta, where I’ve been skiing all week with my family in the stunning Canadian Rockies. My L.A. kid had never even seen snow in person, much less skied on it, prior to this trip. He’s having a blast — we all are — but naturally, the dramatic scenery got me thinking about movies, as most things do. (Thankfully, we’ve avoided “Force Majeure”-style, avalanche-as-metaphor antics during our vacation.)
So here’s a list of five great movies in which snow is a crucial factor. Bundle up and let’s go …
“Doctor Zhivago” (1965): David Lean’s Oscar-winning epic, set during the Russian Revolution, features Omar Sharif and Julie Christie in a seriously dramatic love affair with some seriously dramatic costumes. So. Much. Fur. Plus, you have 3 1/2 hours to kill, right?
“The Shining” (1980): It doesn’t snow for the entirety of Stanley Kubrick’s Stephen King adaptation, but the icy, frigid backdrop of the labyrinth chase makes the film’s climax especially haunting. Just try to un-see the look on Jack Nicholson’s face here.
“For Your Eyes Only” (1981): Perhaps THE greatest James Bond chase scene ever. Nothing this stressful (or athletic) has happened to us during our vacation, but Chris just mentioned to me that every time we go skiing, he gets the iconic Bond theme song stuck in his head at least once a run.
“Fargo” (1996): The snow is so essential to “Fargo,” it almost feels like a character itself. The unforgiving bleakness of the surroundings sets a pervasive tone, and it provides a striking backdrop for the film’s violent, bloody moments. Easily one of my favorites from the Coen brothers.
“A Simple Plan” (1998): As in “Fargo,” the snow heightens the sense of dread and isolation in Sam Raimi’s great (and greatly underappreciated) crime thriller. If you found a giant bag of cash in the dead of winter near a plane crash in middle-of-nowhere Minnesota, wouldn’t you keep it, too?
UPDATE, Jan. 3: A frequent visitor to my Facebook page, Shannon Nutt, astutely points out that I completely spaced “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980). Because, Hoth. This is embarrassing as the parent of a “Star Wars”-obsessed child, so I’m going to break my own rules here and add a sixth movie to the list, with my thanks to Shannon for the great pick. Enjoy.