Criterion Corner: The Ice Storm 1997

The Criterion Collection for years have been releasing the best versions of movies on DVD and Blue Ray.  They are hands down the ultimate praise a film can receive,and while many claim  the Oscar to be  the ultimate recognition.  Having the work and praise that goes into a Criterion edition.  Shows that it was put together by film lovers for film lovers.  This section is going to be dedicated to some of the great movies in this growing collection.


Ang Lee has been a director that never stayed in one genre.  He has made quirky comedies like “The Wedding Banquet” and “Taking Woodstock” and lush period dramas including “Sense and Sensibility” and “Crouching Tiger,Hidden Dragon“.   He’s been both praised for his work (“Brokeback Mountain“) and shunned for it as well (“Hulk“), but has never made a movie half assed.  He works incredibly hard at bringing to the screen his unique vision and no matter what the final result is. The journey is still worth the price we pay.

The Ice Storm” came out after “Sense and Sensibility” which was a huge hit, and everyone was surprised that Mr. Lee took on this as his next project.  Based on the novel by Rick Moody.  This story takes place in the suburbs of Connecticut 1973 involving two families.   Elena and Ben Hood (Joan Allen, Kevin Klien)  are going through some problems in their marriage .  Mainly the one involving Ben’s affair with Janey Carver(Sigourney Weaver).   Meanwhile the Hood’s daughter Wendy (Christina Ricci) becomes sexually involved with both brothers of the Carvers(Elijah Wood, Adam Hann Byrd) while her brother Paul(Tobey Maguire) tries to make a move on an upstate girl(Katie Holmes).  All of their dramas come into light during  the night of a horrific ice storm.

The only thing I got from this movie is how fucked up these people’s lives are.  I don’t mind movies with flawed characters and Ang Lee does try his best to make them all somewhat sympathetic.  Especially the character of Ben Hood who according the author had more emotional depth then in the book.  I just never fully cared about what happened to any of them.  They all make bad choices,and it’s not real clear if anyone learned anything.  I’m  guessing maybe that was the point of it, but I could be wrong. The actual storm in this felt like it was trying to be both a plot device and a metaphorical statement at the same time.  It would have made a stronger impact in my eyes to call it “The Ice Storm” without having it be set in winter.  Still it is fascinating to watch these young actors  like Ricci and Maguire hold their own with seasoned pros like Allen and Klien.  Every performance is top-notch as well as the direction and script.

Like all great Criterion features.  “The Ice Storm” comes with a lot of great extras.

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Ang Lee and director of photography Frederick Elmes
  • Audio commentary featuring Lee and producer-screenwriter James Schamus
  • New documentary featuring interviews with actors Joan Allen, Kevin Kline, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Sigourney Weaver, and Elijah Wood
  • New video interview with novelist Rick Moody
  • Deleted scenes
  • Footage from an event honoring Lee and Schamus at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image
  • Visual essays featuring interviews with the cinematographer, production designer, and costume designer
  • Theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A new essay by film critic Bill Krohn


About The Vern

I love movies and I enjoy writing about them too. They both go pretty much hand in hand with each other and it's fun to discover new classics. I co host the podcasts The Film Pasture, ScreenTrax, and soon Cinema Recall. While also contributing reviews and articles to other great sites when I can.
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4 Responses to Criterion Corner: The Ice Storm 1997

  1. ninvoid99 says:

    This is my favorite Ang Lee film. It’s also in my Criterion DVD wishlist along with Ride with the Devil and so many other films.

    • The Vern says:

      Thank you very much for the comment. I liked the perfromances but couldnt get into the story. It’s worth the watch still

  2. mistylayne says:

    I saw this eons ago and loved it. I should revisit it.

    • The Vern says:

      Ang Lee does a great job with the material, but I wanted more from the story. Didn’t fully hate the movie, and would watch again, but not something I want to buy. Thanks for the comments

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