Movies to Get You through Winter
Relief from the Winter Blahs
As I sit in my living room in Central Ontario, having endured one of the snowiest winters in recent memory, I am encouraged knowing that “this too must pass”. Winter can't last FOREVER, can it?
I have suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder ever since I can remember. In my 16th year, I went to the Bahamas in October. Big mistake. It rained the day after I returned and I sat in my room and cried. I swore to myself that someday I would move there permanently.
Well, 38 years later, I'm still dreaming of the day I can leave winter behind. Until then, I cope. I discovered that I could turn up the heat, put on some coconut sunscreen and pop in a movie, set in a warm climate, and escape for a couple of hours.
I've put together a list of movies that have helped me through the winter blahs. Here they are in no particular order.
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
(Loosely based on the book by Frances Mayes) and starring Diane Lane, Sandra Oh, Raoul Bova
Setting – Various location in Italy
In the aftermath of an unexpected and painful divorce, Frances is given a trip to Tuscany where, on an impulse, she purchases a 200-year-old villa. The movie chronicles the trials and tribulations of restoring the house, falling in love, making new friends and finding a place to call home.
Frances is played by Diane Lane, Sandra Oh is Patti and Raoul Bova is Marcello but the real star of the movie is Italy. From the vineyards, olive groves and the fields of sunflowers to the villas and piazza, Under the Tuscan Sun is a beautiful place to be.
Key Largo (1948)
Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Lionel Barrymore and Edward G. Robinson
Setting – Key Largo, FL
Humphrey Bogart plays Major Frank McCloud, a World War II veteran who travels to Key Largo to visit the father and wife (played by Lionel Barrymore and Lauren Bacall) of one of his men who died in combat. With a hurricane on the way, McCloud walks into a tempest of another kind stirred up by Rocco (Edward G. Robinson), a gangster who is back in the U.S. after having fled the law.
The oppressive heat and the tension of the approaching hurricane only heighten the conflict that comes to a head inside the hotel as the storm rages outside. Despite the majority of the movie being filmed on a soundstage, John Huston's incredible talent as a director, the outstanding cast and excellent screenplay leave you feeling as though you've survived the storm yourself.
Captain Ron (1992)
Kurt Russell, Martin Short, Mary Kay Place
Setting – The Caribbean
Martin Harvey (played by Martin Short) inherits a sailboat from a long-forgotten uncle. He is determined to have a “spontaneous” adventure, so the family flies to Ste. Pomme de Terre to sail the boat back to Miami, skippered by Captain Ron (Kurt Russell). Various mishaps and misadventures ensue including one hilarious scene involving a flare gun.
The five actors have great chemistry and play well off one another. Even though it is not Oscar material and much of the plot is predictable, it is one of my favourite movies because of the setting – the Caribbean. Every time I watch Captain Ron I get the urge to book a flight to the islands and maybe sign up for my own sailing adventure.
The Bounty (1984)
Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Liam Neeson
Setting – South Pacific
The Bounty is a retelling of the events leading up to, during and after the famous mutiny. Mel Gibson plays Christian Fletcher and Anthony Hopkins is Captain Bligh. The tension between the crew and their Captain, the unbearable conditions on board and the beauty of the South Pacific all contribute to the events depicted. You can understand the men's desire to remain and the inevitable mutiny. Although the location is real and the scenery stunning, attaining paradise is never a possibility.
Viewer warning – topless Polynesian women (not gratuitous).
Blue Hawaii (1961)
Elvis Presley, Joan Blackman, Angela Lansbury, Roland Winters, Howard McNear
Setting – Hawaii
Elvis Presley plays Chad Gates, a soldier returning home after his service in Europe. Chad's parents, played by Roland Winters and Angela Lansbury (at her comedic best), have decided that Chad has taken enough of a break and pressure him to join the Great Southern Hawaii Fruit Company. Chad has other ideas and is determined to make his own way.
Joan Blackman (with the bluest eyes I've ever seen) is Maile, the girl who welcomes Chad home. Howard McNear plays Mr Chapman, Maile's boss and steals every scene he is in.
This movie is a trip back in time that captures the beauty of Hawaii with its gorgeous beaches and scenery. Add to that a fun storyline and a great soundtrack and Blue Hawaii will wash away your winter blahs.
Le Grand Bleu (The Big Blue) (1988)
Jean-Marc Barr, Jean Reno, Rosanna Arquette
Setting – The Mediterranean
The Big Blue is a story about free diving, friendship and love. It is about feeling like you don't belong and struggling to come to terms with never attaining what you long to be.
Jacques Mayol (played by Jean-Marc Barr) and Enzo Molinari (Jean Reno) are both free divers who grew up together in Greece. They are as much at home in the water as they are on land. Johana (played by Rosanna Arquette) is sent to Peru to investigate an insurance claim where she meets Jacques. She cannot get him out of her mind.
Set in various locations around the Mediterranean, The Big Blue is a feast for the eyes. The photography both above and underneath the water is stunning. The opening shot of the sun reflecting off the water sets the mood for the entire movie. It would be especially good on a big screen.
The Quiet Man (1952)
John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond
Setting – Ireland
“...a fine soft day in the spring it was, when the train pulled into Castletown, three hours late as usual, and himself got off.” “Himself” is Sean Thornton, played by John Wayne, a retired boxer who returns from America to buy back the family cottage. He's come home and home he is going to stay.
There is a reason why they call Ireland the Emerald Isle – because it is so green! John Ford was a master when it came to bringing out the colours of the countryside – a myriad shades of green, the bluest sky and Maureen O'Hara's red hair.
The Quiet Man is an amusing story of returning to your roots, to a place to call home and finding love on the way.
Born Free (1966)
Virginia McKenna, Bill Travers
Setting – Kenya
Born Free is a true story about an orphaned lion cub that is raised by Joy Adamson and her husband George. “Elsa” matures beyond the cute kitten stage and the possibilities of both personal injury and Elsa being mistakenly shot as a wild lion force Joy and George to come to a decision. Joy cannot bear the thought of Elsa going to a zoo and is determined to reintroduce her to the wild.
Africa in the midst of summer, with the golden grass of the savannah, lions panting in the sun and the air shimmering from the heat all making an atmospheric movie with a great ending. As a bonus, Andy Williams sings the theme song.
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The list is never ending
Well, there you have it. I hope this list helps you make it through this long, cold winter. Any suggestions of other movies that have helped you?