Weekend Reccos: Pop Culture Picks on Stories Set in Wintry Landscapes

Fate bringing lovers together in a New York swaddled in snow, an explorer's tale of survival in the frosty American West and a motely crew of eight holed up against a blizzard in Wyoming—team NGTI handpick extraordinary tales set in the backdrop of a wintry landscape.

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A still from The Revenant.



The Revenant (2015)

The year is 1823. Explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is on a quest to chart the uncharted terrains of the American West. The path leading to the unknown often poses its own set of challenges. Blankets of snow bury the wilderness in frost. And a landscape so pristine can only be marred by a deadly tale of betrayal and survival. Shot in outwardly unspoiled tracts in Canada and Argentina, the script demanded the cast and the crew to brave cruel weather conditions. The efforts, however, did not go unnoticed as the Alejandro G. Iñárritu-directorial swept three Oscars that Academy season.

— Pooja Naik


Cool Runnings (1993)

“I’m freezing my royal Rastafarian nay-nays off!” Disney’s sports comedy based loosely on Jamaica’s bobsledding foray into the 1988 Winter Olympics in Canada is an avalanche of such throwaway lines. The audience is first greeted by island vistas of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios in Jamaica (shot on location), and later the snowy kingdom of Calgary’s Olympic Park (also shot on location). It’s a classic underdog flick that has made children and adults from all over the world joyfully chant, “Feel the Rhythm! Feel the Rhyme! Get on up, it’s bobsled time!”

—Julian Manning


Serendipity (2001)

Fate, love, a beautiful Kate Beckinsale, a beautiful John Cusack (I said it), and New York City swaddled in December snow—speaking strictly for the guiltless mush-mongers, there is little in the 2001 romance that is not beautiful. Cosmic lovers Jonathan and Sara meet when the stars are still misalligned, in the buzzing chaos of a Christmas-eve Bloomingdales and then over a hot cocoa in a cafe named Serendipity. Shaken by the kind of vibrations lesser mortals can only hope for, but tethered to worldly commitments, the kindred strangers decide to part ways, leaving it up to fate to lead them back to each other. What follows is a story filled with unmillenial whimsy and wonder, dreamy New York to glamorous San Francisco, and back. Personally, NYC remains the protagonist, the promised stage for all things magical, a relay of locations—Central Park, Manhattan, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Wollman Rink, Newark Airport—looking ethereal under twirling silver flakes. Bap Kennedy and Nick Drake’s lullabyesque background score infuses more magic into the mix. And even if for 91 minutes, it seems fair we believe.

— Sohini Das Gupta


The Hateful Eight (2015)

Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece is set in the dead of a Wyoming winter. A decade or so after the Civil War, a bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) set out towards a town called Red Rock, where Ruth is to bring Domergue to justice. However, their paths cross with Major Marquis Warren (Samuel Jackson), another infamous bounty hunter who was a former black union soldier, and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), who says he is the town’s new sheriff. A powerful blizzard forces the party of four to take refuge at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a stopover on the mountain pass. Here, they meet with four more nefarious characters from another stagecoach. Holed up together with the wintry outdoors inaccessible, will the hateful eight make it to Red Rock in the end?

— Sanjana Ray


Doctor Zhivago (1965)

In David Lean’s adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s book, Russia and romance—with a capital, adult R—are mounted on an epic frame. The more frozen landscapes and a repressive regime try to stifle young medic Yuri Zhivago’s (Omar Sharif) passion for revolution, poetry and his soulmate: a luminous, already off-the-market blonde named Lara (Julie Christie), the stauncher he gets. Winter stars as an inescapable metaphor in Yuri’s life and his attraction to Lara. Lean shot the film in Finland and Spain yet manages to paint Russia’s bleak wonder in grand flourishes: a frosted window pane from Yuri’s childhood, a locomotive tearing across snow-swept plains, ice crystals transformed as pretty blossoms. Sentimentalists will lap up the story, of course, however the sheer force of Zhivago’s ardour will thaw even some hard-headed sceptics.

— Lakshmi Sankaran



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