The Ice Storm script
The Ice Storm (1997)
Synopsis: The Ice Storm is a 1997 American drama film directed by Ang Lee, based on the 1994 novel of the same name by Rick Moody. The film features an ensemble cast of Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, Katie Holmes, Glenn Fitzgerald, Jamey Sheridan, and Sigourney Weaver. Set during Thanksgiving 1973, The Ice Storm is about two dysfunctional New Canaan, Connecticut upper-class families who are trying to deal with tumultuous social changes of the early 1970s, and their escapism through alcohol, adultery, and sexual experimentation. The film opened in the United States on September 26, 1997. Its release was limited and it ultimately grossed US$8 million on a budget of US$18 million. A special two-disc DVD set was released as part of the Criterion Collection on March 18, 2008.

EXT. TRAIN - DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN

Suburban Connecticut, outside of New York City, 1973. The

still after a terrible storm. Trees dripping, their branches

torn, the air warming just before the break of a new day. The

train lies dark and motionless, a few flashing yellow

emergency lights up front, as a work crew removes debris from

the track.

INT. TRAIN. PRE-DAWN

Various passengers, huddled uncomfortably, cold, asleep.

On Paul Hood, 15-and-a-half, stoner-preppie look, hunched up

in his seat under the faint emergency exit light. He reads

his Fantastic Four comic book by the pale light of the

emergency exit sign.

Suddenly, the lights begin to flicker on and the hum of the

train's engines returns.

The conductor enters the car, blasting forth in his classic

nasal voice.

CONDUCTOR:

Good morning ladies and gentlemen --

He sounds like a baseball announcer.

PASSENGERS:

(mumbling, ad lib)

What ladies?

CONDUCTOR:

-- this train originating at New

York's Grand Central Station is

back in service - next stop will be

New Canaan, Connecticut. New

Canaan, Connecticut, next stop!

He moves on to the next car.

The train begins to move.

Paul rubs his elbow against the window and looks out into the

still-dark early morning.

He looks back down at his comic book.

On the comic book: Reed Richards (also known as Stretch) has

zapped his young son with a cosmic ray gun to neutralize the

destructive energy that Annihilus has implanted in him.

The Thing, Medusa, Flame, and Richards' wife Sue Storm look

on, stunned.

"THEN YOU'VE TURNED HIM INTO A

VEGETABLE. YOUR OWN SON." "DON'T

YOU SEE, SUE? HE WAS TOO

POWERFUL... IF HIS ENERGY HAD

CONTINUED TO BUILD, HE WOULD HAVE

DESTROYED THE WQRLD!"

Paul looks up again, thinking.

PAUL (V.O.)

In issue number 141 of The

Fantastic Four, published in

November 1973, Reed Richards has to

use his anti-matter weapon on his

own son, who Annihilus has turned

into a human atom bomb. His son is

the result of Richards' coupling

with the earthling Sue Storm, and

the problem is that the cosmic rays

that infused Richards and the rest

of the Fantastic Four on their

aborted moon mission have made

young Franklin a volatile mixture

of matter and anti-matter.

EXT. TRAIN BRIDGE. PRE-DAWN

The train moves slowly through a suburban, semi-forested

landscape.

PAUL (V.O.)

And that's what it is to come from

a family, if you analyze it

closely. Each of them is negative

matter for the other ones. And

that's what dying is -- dying is

when your family, which is in fact

your personal negative matter from

which you emerge -- it's when the

family takes you back, thus hurling

you back into negative space...

INT. TRAIN. CONT'D.

On Paul, as the sun breaks over the horizon. His face glows

warmly in the yellow light. He looks down idly at the comic

book.

PAUL (V.O.)

So it's a paradox -- the closer

you're drawn back in, the further

into the void you're thrown.

EXT. CONRAIL STATION. EARLY MORNING

The train slowly pulls in.

The train doors open, and Paul, weary from the long night,

emerges. He sees his family gathered at the other end of the

platform -- Ben, 40, a bit worse for wear but still retaining

traces of his boyish looks; Elena, 37, distant and elegant

even in her oversized sweater; and Wendy, 14, a sullen

suburban Lolita.

He pauses, regarding them.

They stand, silent, even dignified, awaiting him.

EXT. ST. PETER'S SCHOOL. MORNING

To establish. A typical New England prep school.

INT. PAUL AND FRANCIS'S DORM ROOM. MORNING

Cramped, a mess, but quaint. Paul shares the room with

Francis Davenport IV, a dissolute, smart-ass son of money.

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James Schamus

James Allan Schamus (born September 7, 1959) is an American award-winning screenwriter, co-founder of Good Machine production company, and the CEO of Focus Features, the motion picture production, financing, and worldwide distribution company, until its merging with FilmDistrict. more…

All James Schamus scripts | James Schamus Books

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