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SMILLA'S SENSE OF SNOW

SYNOPSIS:
Based on Peter Hoeg’s best selling thriller, the investigation of a young boy’s death takes Smilla (Julia Ormond) a reclusive female geologist on a dangerous expedition from Copenhagen to her native Greenland, as she discovers a corporate plot to mine a meteorite that contains a unique substance. The story begins 100 years ago as an Innuit seal hunter stands upon a Greenland ice flow preparing to make a kill. A sudden, spectacular event abruptly ends his life. The story jumps to a modern-day Copenhagen apartment building when a six-year-old Inuit boy plummets from the top of the six-story apartment block; the police shrug off the death as accidental. The case is therefore closed for all but Smilla Jasperson, raised in a small northern Greenland village with her Inuit mother; she has an uncanny understanding of snow. She examines the murder scene and determines from the boy's footprint in the snow that his death was not accidental. A downstairs neighbour (Gabriel Byrne) offers to help, but turns out to be an enigmatic player in the deadly game.

"Julia Ormond has oodles of it - that elusive thing called ‘Star Quality’. And Ormond’s star quality, in this beautifully made, intriguing thriller, is the key to its fascination. Compelling from the onset, with stunning images of vast icy lands and seals swimming under the frozen surface, and where huskies are the most effective transportation, this is a thriller which does not rely on major action and stunts. Instead, we have an unusual story unravelled with care and mystery. Ormond is serene, spontaneous, forthright, complex and seriously beautiful. Her relationship with the little boy with the face like an angel is from the heart and touching. There is a lot of psychology at work here, and the complexity of the characters propels the film credibly. Stunning cinematography, a moody music soundtrack and a solid supporting cast give strength to this ambitious Bille August film, which is sure to capture audiences everywhere. While the script may sag slightly in the second half, it is not enough to detract from the film’s charms. Smilla is resplendent with images of an icy land and a culture that is beguiling. It may not draw the numbers that the big action flicks pull, but will entice and satisfy many who are bewitched by a fascinating tale."
Louise Keller

"Occasionally a film creeps up on an unsuspecting audience which is so absorbing that time or place seem to dissipate. The chilling novel Smilla's Feeling for Snow has been exquisitely brought to the screen by Billie August, and is certainly one of the most captivating and awe-inspiring thrillers of the year. Stunningly photographed, the film is an intricate puzzle, a deliberately plotted multi-layered gem that takes the viewer on a fascinating journey. This is not a film about heroes, and the character of Smilla is a cold, complex fish attempting to unravel a painful mystery. It's understandable why many American critics were dismissive of the film: it doesn't follow the rules. It isn't an easy, mainstream film with identifiable heroes and villains. This is a complex yet hypnotic work, and one that truly envelops one in its mystery and scenario. Shaking away her glamorous image, Ormond has been given a script worthy of her depths as an actor. She gives a skillful, methodical performance, one that is masterful as it reaches its emotional climax. It's her best work to date, devoid of the trappings of Hollywood glamour. It's Ormond's film and she is superb. Under Billy August's assured and visually sharp direction, Smilla's Feeling for Snow is a masterpiece of the genre, a fascinating and enthralling work that succeeds in keeping one guessing, without the need to conform to mainstream expectations of what a thriller should contain. Hopefully, it's power and intelligence will be discovered now, and for those who love a good, unpredictable yarn, this is a movie to devour."
Paul Fischer

"Yes, I’d have to say I enjoyed it as much as Louise and Paul, swept away by the story, the characters and the whole cinematic trip. It’s engrossing and powerful, moving despite Smilla’s cool characteristics (they do sometimes melt a bit) and ultimately meaningful as an exploration of how humans deal with their human frailties. The plot, although cleverly contructed, is not unqiue in its premise. Where I feel the film shows its anticedents (a novel) is the sometimes clipped transitions and lack of expoisition. These jumps ( I won’t spoil things by pointing them out) simply fleck the surface of the film, without doing any serious damage: in short, the film is taut, tense and terrific, with that generous European sensibility. Oh yes, the language is English (no subtitles) but the the accents aren’t that even."
Andrew L. Urban

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SMILLA’S SENSE OF SNOW (M)
(German/Danish/Swedish - in English)

 

CAST: Julia Ormond, Gabriel Byrne, Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave, Robert Loggia, Jim Broadbent, Mario Adorf, Bob Peck, Tom Wilkinson, Emma Croft, Peter Capaldi, Jurgen Vogel, Clipper Miano, Agga Olsen

DIRECTOR: Bille August

PRODUCER: Bernd Eichinger, Martin Moszkowicz

SCRIPT: Ann Biderman (based on the novel by Peter Hoeg)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jorgen Persson

EDITOR: Janus Billeskov Jansen

MUSIC: Harry Gregson-Williams, Hans Zimmer

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Anna Asp

RUNNING TIME: 121 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 28, 1997







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