Five Movies Set in Cold Climates

Scott Wallace
5th Dec 2016

Summer is upon us, and while for many that is an absolute joy, others have far less tolerance for the heat. One way to escape the summer heat without having to travel to the other side of the world is to take in one of these chilly movies. Full of images of snow and ice, foggy breath in chilly air, and characters decked out in winter gear, lose yourself in these cold cinematic climates.

Doctor Zhivago (1965)

David Lean’s adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s iconic novel is an epic adventure through early 20th Century Russia. While it was filmed in Spain, the film finds stars Omar Sharif and Julie Christie wrapped in furs to ward off the near-Arctic chill. Lean does for the Russian landscape the same thing he did for the desert a few years earlier in Lawrence of Arabia, and along with composer Maurice Jarre’s tinkling icicles of melody, creates an intimate and misty ambience throughout.

The Thing (1982)

Either the 1951 original The Thing from Another World, or John Carpenter’s better-known 1982 remake will give you the relief you need. This inventive sci-fi horror movie set in and around an Antarctic research base will make you shiver in more ways than one. The “Thing” of the title is an extra-terrestrial being, parasitic and out for blood, terrorising the research base’s inhabitants to the point where freezing on the tundra may be a more welcome prospect.

Fargo (1996)

The Coen Brothers’ crime-comedy classic is named for the North Dakota town that is mentioned within it in passing. The story takes place during the whitest of white winters, to the point where the ever-present cold feels like a character unto itself. Come for the atmosphere, but what will keep you around are the brilliant performances of William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi and especially Frances McDormand in this cold-blooded comedy classic.

Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2002)

The first film ever made to be entirely in the Inuktitut language of far north Canada’s original inhabitants, Atanarjuat understandably takes place in some very icy locales. Set in the ancient past, much of the story occurs in igloos and in the frozen wilderness, centred around an Inuit tribe and the titular character. Running for nearly three hours and telling a tale of love and betrayal, Atanarjuat recreates with exacting detail how the Inuit people of ancient times really lived.

Force Majeure (2014)

An avalanche is the catalyst for this remarkable family drama from Sweden. On holiday in the French Alps, Tomas, his wife Ebba, their daughter Vera and son Harry find their idyllic ski trip interrupted by a controlled avalanche that causes momentary panic. While no one is hurt, Tomas's reaction to the avalanche throws their familial bonds into doubt, and casts a pall over the rest of their trip. In this movie, the only thing frostier than the scenery are the interactions between the finely drawn and nuanced characters.