The Ice Storm

Ang Lee, USA, 1997o


Thanksgiving 1973 in a small town in Connecticut: 16-year-old Paul returns from boarding school for the holidays and finds nothing the way it was. His parents have just broken off a couples' therapy, his father has an affair with the neighbor, his younger sister ends up in the bed of a neighbor - nobody says so, but everyone is overwhelmed. The daily process of uneasy change condenses into a magical and tragic night, when the whole city freezes in an ice storm.

Wie die Mitglieder einer kleinstädtischen amerikanischen Mittelstandsfamilie mit sexuellen Auf- und Ausbrüchen, Drogen und neureligiösen Strömungen experimentieren und dabei mit leiser Verstörtheit spüren, dass der Zusammenhalt schwindet, wenn alle sich mehr von den neuen Freiheiten nehmen: Angesiedelt 1973 und herausgekommen 1997, ist The Ice Storm der Film einer ganzen Generation. Indem er ein Vierteljahrhundert zurückblickt auf die Zeit der Miniröcke und Maxikragen, erfasst er mit einem genialen Verfremdungseffekt, was die neunziger Jahre und was uns bis heute beschäftigt: die Kehrseiten der allseitigen Liberalisierungen, das Schwinden hergebrachter Sicherheiten und Gewissheiten durch die beschleunigte Dynamik des Wandels. Er tut dies mit einer Genauigkeit und einem Gespür für jedes atmosphärische Detail, die umso erstaunlicher sind, als Ang Lee selbst erst 1975 von Taiwan in die USA einwanderte. Mitentscheidend für diese Stimmungsdichte sind zwei Dinge: Ang Lees Nachsicht mit den Figuren, die sein ganzes Werk durchzieht, und eine Besetzung, die in diesem Fall traumhaft harmoniert. Ob staunend wie Toby Maguire, trotzig wie Christina Ricci, herb wie Sigourney Weaver oder melancholisch wie Joan Allen und Kevin Kline – alle erzählen sie vom Gefühl der Verlorenheit, das mit dem Pakt der Moderne einhergeht: mehr Handlungsspielraum um den Preis der Unbehaustheit.

Andreas Furler

Ang Lee, the Taiwanian director of Pushing Hands, The Wedding Banquet and Eat Drink Man Woman, rises to the challenge of his second English-language film, following Sense and Sensibility, with unfailing grace and humor. Working with longtime collaborator James Schamus, whose keenly observant script is a model of astute adaptation, Lee deftly tweaks the conventions of the period — wigs, whips and double-knit polyester — and connects public deceits to personal ones without compromising the feelings of the characters. (...) This emotional climax of the film, with its warring glints of despair and hope, typifies the stunning achievement of The Ice Storm and confirms Lee as a director of the first rank. Few scenes in recent cinema are as profoundly moving as the one after Ben catches Wendy, wearing a Nixon mask, sitting astride Mikey’s crotch in the Carver basement. Outraged by betrayals, including his own, Ben demands that Wendy leave with him. On the walk home in the snow, there is silence, then reconciliation. Father asks daughter if he might carry her home, like he did when she was a child. Wendy, dropping her guard, agrees, and in this single, transitory moment, Lee links the ’70s and the ’90s by distilling the timeless tension between the necessity and the heartbreak of growing up. Like all great films, this one takes a piece out of you.

Peter Travers

What makes The Ice Storm hold up 25 years after its release isn’t its faithful recreation of Americana, but the way in which Ang Lee portrays its prickly cast of characters. It’s a signature approach of the director, one that employs empathy and warmth towards the members of a single family unit, but most importantly it sympathetically understands how heavily our lives are dictated by the world around us.

Kevin Bui


Little White Lies, 10/12/2022
All rights reserved Little White Lies. Provided by Little White Lies Archiv
The New York Times, 9/25/1997
All rights reserved The New York Times. Provided by The New York Times Archiv, 10/16/1997
All rights reserved Provided by Archiv
The Criterion Collection, 7/22/2013
All rights reserved The Criterion Collection. Provided by The Criterion Collection Archiv
Spiegel Online, 12/14/1997
All rights reserved Spiegel Online. Provided by Spiegel Online Archiv
All rights reserved Süddeutsche Zeitung. Provided by Süddeutsche Zeitung Archiv.
Symposium: Ang Lee and the Art of Transnational Cinema
/ Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies | Harvard University
en / 2/26/2014 / 160‘28‘‘

Interview with Ang Lee
/ Manufacturing Intellect
en / 7/20/2016 / 17‘43‘‘

Review by A.O. Scott
/ The New York Times
en / 11/30/2010 / 04‘17‘‘

Movie Datao

Other titles
Der Eissturm DE
Ice Storm FR
Running time
108 Min.
Original language
ØYour rating7.6/10
IMDB user:
7.3 (59785)
7.7 (14)
9.0 (3) q

Cast & Crewo

Kevin KlineBen Hood
Joan AllenElena Hood
Tobey MaguirePaul Hood


Symposium: Ang Lee and the Art of Transnational Cinema
Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies | Harvard University, en , 160‘28‘‘
Interview with Ang Lee
Manufacturing Intellect, en , 17‘43‘‘
Review by A.O. Scott
The New York Times, en , 04‘17‘‘
Review Little White Lies
Kevin Bui
Review The New York Times
Roger Ebert
Essay: Baby, It's Cold Outside
The Criterion Collection / Bill Krohn
Review Spiegel Online
Cristina Moles Kaupp
Review Süddeutsche Zeitung
Michael Althen
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