Synopsis: As a frigid winter storm descends upon the upper-middle-class Elysium of 1970s New Canaan, Connecticut, during Thanksgiving weekend, the climate within each immaculate home is equally chilly.
Director Ang Lee's main concern is a subtle examination of family life that he began with THE WEDDING BANQUET and EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN. With THE ICE STORM, Lee creates a truly American period film that is equally concerned with family relationships, set in 1970s New England. It is Thanksgiving, 1973, and the Carvers and the Hoods are two prototypical suburban families seemingly living the good life in New Canaan, Connecticut. Behind their New Age philosophies and polyester fashions, however, lies deep discontent. One husband carries on an unsatisfying affair with the other family's wife, while his teenage daughter experiments sexually with both of the neighbor's boys. When a winter storm descends upon their upper middle class neighborhood, buried resentments bubble over, leading to a tragedy neither family will ever forget. An intense, well-acted drama based on the novel by Rick Moody, THE ICE STORM is a masterly depiction of the frigid emotional life of suburbia. Great care was taken to accurately recreate the fashion, philosophy, and music of the 1970s without devolving into camp. Sigourney Weaver, Kevin Kline, and Joan Allen all excel in their roles, but it is the younger actors (Christina Ricci, Tobey Maguire, Elijah Wood, Adam Hann-Byrd) who steal the show.
Theatrical release: September 27, 1997 (N.Y.); October 17, 1997 (national). Estimated budget: $18 million. Ang Lee didn't come to the country until 1978, so he didn't really experience the 1970s in the United States. He hired researcher Jean Castelli, who wrote thousands of pages about culture of the 1970s to assist the crew. Lee also relied on the personal memories of his cast and crew. As he has done in several of his films, he assigned books for the cast to read, and handed out a questionnaire for the cast to complete in character. "I felt [THE ICE STORM] was just the opposite of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. In SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, the social code wants you to be rational and good and the characters want to be bad; in THE ICE STORM the social code wants you to be bad, and actually they're not so bad after all--they still want to be good."--Ang Lee, in an interview on THE ICE STORM Web site. Rick Moody's novel was brought to the attention of screewriter James Schamus by his wife, Nancy Krikorian, who is a literary scout. "I told Mark Friedberg and Carol Oditaz, the costume designer, that whereas art direction usually supoports the acting, I wanted them to build a look that would work against the acting. Human nature in this movie is working against the look."--Ang Lee, in an interview on THE ICE STORM Web site. Vermeer paintings served as an inspiration for SENSE AND SENSBILITY; photorealistic paintings served as an inspiration for the look of THE ICE STORM. "There's an empty, de-focused feeling to those paintings," Ang Lee explained on the THE ICE STORM Web site. "We used a lot of reflective and transparent material to get that effect: mirrors, chrome, and glass, which we later build out into the ice effect and shatter." Cubism was another influence on the film. "The structure of the film resembles Cubism, many facets put together in a narrative way so that you can watch it from many angles and they all mean something," Ang Lee said on THE ICE STORM Web site. "By the early Seventies Cubism had come almost to an end and simplified into just patterns." "The first time I saw the film with all of its images of freezing and ice, I immediately thought of the sound of the Gamelan Ensemble, a group of brass and wood instrumments from Indonesia. It's actually quite paradoxical because the Gamelan comes from a tropical region, but the sounds of this instrument are quite icy."--Composer Mychael Danna, in an interview on THE ICE STORM Web site.
Special Features: *Audio Commentary - Ang Lee - Director; James Schamus - Screenwriter
Featurettes - "Lee & Schamus at New York's Museum of the Moving Image"
Interviews - Joan Allen, Kevin Kline, Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood - Stars
Trailers - Theatrical Trailer