Top 7 Films Set During A Heatwave

It’s a commonly known fact that summer is the warmest season of the year. Therefore, I would think it natural for warmth during this season to be expected. However, year in year out, we are constantly bombarded with news headlines such as ‘Breaking News: Summer is hot’, and slight variations on it, of course. Truth be told, though, these last few days scored particularly high on the warmth scale, which stretched from ‘let me grab my sunglasses, just in case’ all the way to the ‘my sunglasses just melted, this is not funny anymore’ point.

This calls for a celebration! Well, not necessarily a celebration, but more like something to make the heat a bit more bearable. And what better way to do this than watch virtual characters struggle with heat-related problems too? Here are seven very good films which are centred around a heatwave, in no particular order. Grab an ice cream, switch on the fan and enjoy!

1. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

What would normally happen when a hostage situation occurs within a bank? Well, it’s a long and laborious process, as far as I imagine, but it quite rarely involves crowds gathering in front of the bank to cheer the hostage takers. However, this is exactly what happens in Sidney Lumet’s masterpiece starring Al Pacino. It also reminds me of the topic on which the song ‘Sonne’ by German band Rammstein is based. Make no mistake, the sun definitely f***s with our brains.

2. Barton Fink (1991)

One of the Coen Brothers’ earlier projects, watching ‘Barton Fink’ should definitely raise your body temperature a bit. Which is not particularly what you should be looking for during summer, I guess, but anyways. In here, the main character, a playwright, has to navigate a pathway rather reminiscent of Dante Alligheri’s Inferno – heat is prevalent in the run-down environments which later burn down – all clever metaphors about creational processes and, why not, Hollywood.

3. It Came From Outer Space (1951)

Have you perhaps noticed that people are generally more prone to anger and violence when of all things, the temperature also decides not to give them a break and is rather intent on staying absurdly high? If the answer is yes, then that’s a very solid observation on your account. Please consider continuing your research on the topic – a good further source of inspiration is none other than this SF from the 50s, which asks the following question: “Did you know that more people are murdered at 92 degrees Fahrenheit [33 degrees Celsius] than any other temperature? I read an article once. Lower temperatures, people are easy-going, over 92 and it’s too hot to move, but just 92, people get irritable.”

4. 12 Angry Men (1957)

Another entry, another Sidney Lumet film. Was this legendary director such a fan of high temperatures? Well, perhaps, perhaps not, but he certainly used the premise to great effect. In what is perhaps his most acclaimed film, Lumet’s parallel between the cool-headed objectiveness of a jury panel and their actual state of mind, altered by the barely endurable heat, which almost rushes them into a wrong decision, is certainly a sight to behold.

5. Dazed and Confused (1993)

Ah, Richard Linklater, the undisputed master of dialogue and teen flicks made with fine taste and smart humour. As opposed to most other teen flicks out there. Anyways, in this masterpiece of a comedy also starring young Matthew McConaughey, Mila Jovovich and Matt Damon, a group of high school students enjoy the arrival of summer, which comes with newfound liberties but also with the necessity to endure a certain thing called heat. This, coupled with the consumption of industrial quantities of beer, leads to some of the film’s most savoury moments.

6. Rear Window (1954)

‘Rear Window’ is certainly a solid example of Alfred Hitchcock at his best, and likewise a very potent example of how a film based on a heatwave should be conceived. The protagonist is a photographer who had suffered a leg injury, and therefore finds himself pinned to a wheelchair. The insufferable heat pretty much forces all his neighbours to keep their windows and curtains open at all times, giving him the perfect opportunity to pass the time by snooping around and making startling discoveries in the process.

7. In the Heat of the Night (1967)

As previously discussed, temper is inversely proportional to temperature: the hotter it gets, the shorter one’s temper. In this fantastic crime thriller set in a racist southern US town and starring Sidney Poitier, the heat acts as the main catalyst in the racially-motivated rows which occur and call for an investigation.

Article written by Julian A. Leu for The Monthly Film Festival
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7.8.2017
 

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