719. Snow Cat – Sheldon Cohen

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SUMMARY: A lonely girl who lives in an isolated cabin wishes for a pet to keep her company. Her wish is granted by the North Wind but the result is a snow cat, who can never be permitted to enter her warm cabin.

WHY IT’S HERE: Sheldon Cohen’s beautiful adaptation of the children’s story by Dayal Kaur Khalsa is a magical little creation with many layers. Bookended by colourful sequences in which a grandmother tells her granddaughter the story, ‘Snow Cat’ never loses the cosiness of these framing portions of the narrative, particularly with Maureen Stapleton’s warm delivery of the narrative, and yet the story itself is rendered in chilly white line drawings against a black background. Cohen uses these white images ingeniously. The world outside the cabin is icy white and you can feel the chilliness in every frame, while inside the cabin the crackling fire plays against the white lines in a way that makes you feel toasty warm. The story itself is a terrific metaphor for coming to terms with death. It was written by Khalsa when she was beset with both her father’s suicide and her own diagnosis of terminal cancer. She used her final years to write many children’s books, including the wonderful ‘Snow Cat’ which deftly weaves the themes of death into its story without making it too devastating. Children should pick up on the main themes but perhaps in an abstract way that will become clearer to them as the memory of the film re-emerges in later life.

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