257. Ice Castles

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Movie: Ice Castles

Release Date: December 31, 1978

Director: Donald Wrye

Starring: Lynn-Holly Johnson, Robby Benson, Colleen Dewhurst, Tom Skerritt.

Tag Lines: “The story of a girl who refused to forget she was once a champion.”

“A Genuine Miracle!Together they reached for the impossible.”

“When Tragedy Struck, Love Came to the Rescue.”

Relevance: In 1983, at the age of twelve and starting the seventh grade, I was given the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. What I really wanted to do was take voice lessons and learn the guitar, but since this was for the school orchestra I had to make another choice. So I chose the flute.

As a kid that was already bullied, it wasn’t the best instrument to choose, especially for a boy. (Insert “skin flute” joke here.) But I endured and I actually got pretty decent at it. I played from seventh grade all the way through high school and beyond, probably stopping around the age of twenty. I even made District Orchestra my Senior Year in High School. I haven’t picked up the instrument in years (You may insert another “skin flute” joke here if you feel the need), but I can still read music, have taught myself a little piano and guitar along the way and am grateful that I had the chance to express myself artistically at an early age.

One of the first songs we played in our grade school orchestra recitals was “Theme From Ice Castles (Through the Eyes of Love)” from the movie ‘Ice Castles.’ That song and “Nadia’s Theme (Theme from The Young and the Restless)” were two of my favorites to play. I should have known I was gay. I also should have known my orchestra teacher was gay. But I digress. Those songs, in my opinion, are just simple beautiful melodies and I loved playing them on my flute. I also used to listen to Melissa Manchester’s version of “Through the Eyes of Love” and belt it out along side of her every time I heard it. Yep…gay.

I don’t recall the first time that I saw ‘Ice Castles’ but I do know that it was a family favorite, especially for my mom. She was a huge romantic drama fan and this fell right into her wheelhouse. I remember watching the film many, many times, probably on HBO and liked the story more and more every time I watched it. My family also loved the Olympics, winter especially. My mom and I were very big figure skating fans. So the fact that the movie centered around a figure skater was pure icing (see what I did there) on the cake. As I type this now, how the hell did I not know I was gay. I guess hindsight really is 20/20. And yet again, I digress.

‘Ice Castles’ was one of those movies that seemed to never get old for me or my family. A simple love story with figure skating and a beautiful song doesn’t sound like fun for the whole family, but it was for us. At least that’s how I remember it. The fact that I knew the theme song to the movie on my flute just made it much more special.

Today’s Thoughts: I probably haven’t watched ‘Ice Castles’ since the last time I picked up my flute and played it. We are talking over twenty some years by now. That’s a long time, although it seems just like yesterday. So watching it today was definitely a long overdue treat for myself.

The movie now plays like a Hallmark channel Saturday night feature. No wonder my mom loved it, she was a huge fan of all of the Hallmark channels. I, however, am not a fan of those movies, but for some bizarre reason, I still enjoyed this film today. It’s simple, cliche, sappy and overly dramatic, but there is still something very sweet about it. It could be my fond memories attached to it that allowed me to be entertained by it today. And that’s okay.

The cast is absolutely fine. Robbie Benson is lovely and charming. Lynn-Holly Johnson skated well. Tom Skerritt and Colleen Dewhurst added their certain finesse to scenes that may have fallen flat in the hands of others. It is quite humorous that in the age of “quad jumps” Ms. Johnson’s character’s attempt at a “triple” is what led to her accident. But I guess that just shows the progress of how the sport of figure skating.

‘Ice Castles’ is a sweet film. It wasn’t a huge box office hit or popular with critics, but there has been a sort of cult following through the years. I did not watch the remake that was done in 2010, but there is really no need. For me, the only version of the movie I need is with Robbie Benson saying “We forgot about the flowers.”

Awards: Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, “Theme From Ice Castles (Through the Eyes of Love),” Marvin Hamlisch, Carole Bayer Sager (nomination), Golden Globe for New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture – Female, Lynn-Holly Johnson (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Song, “Theme From Ice Castles (Through the Eyes of Love),” Marvin Hamlisch, Carole Bayer Sager (nomination).

Ways to Watch: Vudu, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, DVD Availability.

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