Scott Hicks's film Snow Falling on Cedars and Peter Hoeg's novel Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow Both Scott Hicks's film Snow Falling on Cedars and Peter Hoeg's novel
Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow create images of natural beauty and
purity and also of power and destruction with the same motif: snow.
The snow obviously shapes Smilla's world in a very conscious way, it
is her ally in her struggle; whilst Ishmael's world is under attack
literally and symbolically from this powerful natural force. The
flickering lights of the courthouse capture the fragility of human
reason and decency as the snow beats against the roof. Yet in both
endings the snow comes to represent freshness and purity, and it is
through the stories of Smilla and Ishmael that Hoeg and Hicks explore
this transition. The snow falling in Smilla's world is quanick, large,
light and magical and the fog obscuring Karl's world, possesses an
equally mysterious quality. From these points of departure, both
Hoeg's novel and Hicks's film begin to create worlds characterised and
shaped by formidable weather. Both stories are powerfully conveyed by
the vivid imagery of their settings. Hoeg opens his novel with a
powerful prologue, set at a funeral; Smilla instantly informs us that
weather, the seemingly limitless "December darkness", has influenced
her mood. Smilla's connection with her environment is stressed
throughout the novel and is strikingly apparent in the conclusion. She
is left alone on a pure-white glacier, in the freshly fallen snow. The
natural order has returned, inviting her to a new beginning. Ishmael's
journey also concludes with falling snow, he walks away as the snow
falls gently around him, the storm has been confronted and he
survives, he walks away a free man.
Hoeg begins his novel with explicitly detailed descriptions of
Smilla's surroundings. The language effectively captures the play of
light off the snow, the freshness in the air, the coldness of death is
observed ironically with the funeral for the boy, "who will never
again feel the cold." This description then leads into Smilla's
reading of Euclid's Elements which further establishes Smilla's
affinity with the natural world and galvanises an image of Smilla as a
natural ice-queen in the heated hustle and bustle of the modern world.
This juxtaposition of elemental images is also used effectively in
Snow Falling on Cedars to define the world of San Pietro. The strong
natural emphasis in the wording of the title Snow Falling on Cedars
establishes the fact that nature and natural events will be vital to
the story. Most obviously the opening credits draw the viewers'
attention to the power of nature, present in the fog and the power of
accident. The cut from this surreal green...