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Film / In the Region of Ice

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In the Region of Ice is a 1976 short film (37 minutes) directed by Peter Werner.

Sister Irene (Fionnula Flanagan) is a nun who teaches a class on Shakespeare at an unnamed Catholic university. One day she is surprised to find in her class one Allen Weinstein, who is sitting in. Allen is an intense, driven young man who surprises Sister Irene with his quick mind and intellectual depth. The Catholic nun and the garrulous young Jewish man soon form a friendship.

However, there is something a little off about Allen. He's a little too intense. He seems to be following Sister Irene around. Eventually she gets a letter from him...sent from a mental institution.



  • Curse Cut Short: When talking about how another professor didn't like his thesis, Allen says "When this bas—excuse me, this professor...."
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Shot in black and white for that independent art-house look.
  • Diegetic Switch: The Measure for Measure monologue that Allen recorded starts out playing on a tape recorder at the school as Sister Irene listens, and continues to play as the movie cuts to the next scene with Sister Irene driving away.
  • Downer Ending: Sister Irene fails to help Allen, who winds up killing himself.
  • Driven to Suicide: Allen got off the bus to Canada prematurely, walked off into the woods, and was found dead of hypothermia. His mother, who delivers this crushing news, says that the authorities believe he did it on purpose.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Sister Irene unpins her hair before going to bed in the convent. It comes off as an intimate gesture, since she goes on to read the erotic poem that Allen wrote for her.
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  • Literary Allusion Title: The title comes from this monologue from Measure for Meaure, in which Claudio compares death to "a thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice".
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: A defeated Sister Irene walks off down the hallway to class, after learning that Allen killed himself.
  • Precision F-Strike: Allen, who is obviously highly disturbed, asks Irene to give him money for a bus trip to Canada. When she refuses (for starters, she doesn't have any money, because she's a nun), he flies into a rage and says "You bitch!". She slaps him and he storms out.
  • Self-Harm: Allen tells Sister Irene that instead of cursing and screaming at the people in the mental hospital, he drove his rage inward by sticking himself with pins.
  • Shout-Out: Sister Irene teaches a Shakespeare class. The Merchant of Venice and Measure for Measure are discussed at length, and the title of the film comes from a Measure for Measure quote.
  • Title Drop: The speech contest tape that Allen sends Sister Irene is him reading Claudio's monologue about death from Measure for Measure.
    Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
    To lie in cold obstruction and to rot;
    This sensible warm motion to become
    A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
    To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
    In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice...
  • Voiceover Letter: How the audience learns what's written in Allen's letter from a mental institution. His reference to the character of Claudio in Measure for Measure convinces Sister Irene that he's having suicidal thoughts.

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