Ten Scorching Films For Summer


Summer is officially here. We know because the white, hot, blistering sun is scorching us (and has been for about a week at least). I am certainly not complaining: as a Torontonian, we deal with enough winter nonsense. Instead, we’re going to embrace this warmth. I’m not looking at the films that take place in the hottest locations, or even necessarily the films that feel the hottest. I’ve picked out ten films that utilize heat in a very profound way. Yes, this will include some films in hotter climates, but the aim is just to find films that you can watch this summer that you can play along with. When characters sweat, you do too. When there is tension, you know what that feels like. Here are ten scorching films for you to experience this brilliantly hot summer.


10. Fallen Angels
What I like about this example, is that you never really even see the sun the entire film. Fallen Angels was originally a third story for Chungking Express that was cut; Wong Kar-Wai instead made the film a sister part, thus removing all of the sun (whereas the former film relied heavily on the sun). We experience heat through the delirious slow motion and overlaying of images, the warm colour schemes, and the nighttime city life activities (motorcycle rides, bar brawls, and more). This is a capsule of what summer is like during the darkest hours.


9. Summer with Monika
This excursion from everyday life is a nice case, because it feels like a getaway for you as well. I particularly love the reflection of the sun on the water that is often used, thus detailing the beauty of this destination. Reality hits, though, and we are removed from this remote island and sent back to a mundane Sweden. Our longing for this secret hideaway spot will resonate as much as it does for the young leads, who bit off more than they could chew.


8. The Before Trilogy
Pick any of these three films, and you will experience warmth in a variety of ways. Of course, the best course of action is to start from the beginning. The use of the sun, and the various time periods, takes full advantage of where the relationship between Jesse and Céline is at at that point. The locations of France, Austria, and Greece also help, because you get the perspectives of different parts of Europe and the best weather these places can offer.


7. Dog Day Afternoon
You don’t really leave the Brooklyn Savings Bank for most of the film, yet you cannot escape the summer temperatures in Dog Day Afternoon. You are trapped with the other hostages, and the bank robbers, as a showdown begins once the cops arrive. As frantic decision making has to commence, you will quickly notice how bothered everybody is. This is an uncomfortable position to be in anyway, but the August sun beating down inside of the bank does not help.


6. In the Heat of the Night
You will find films that incorporate racial tensions use heat as a device. Of course, a film titled In the Heat of the Night is no exception. Virgil Tibbs heads south to Mississippi to solve a case, and unfortunately has to encounter many bouts of racism as a result. Whether it is midnight or bright and early in the morning, Norman Jewison’s film permanently feels warm enough to require a fan due to its uncomfortable situations and the bright hot cinematography.


5. Call Me By Your Name
Not many films can place you in a hot European setting quite like Call Me By Your Name. The shots are so well placed, you can almost feel the salt in the air land on your skin. You may even think you can smell the fruits growing in the trees nearby. The film doesn’t leave the small Italian town for the most part, so you are allowed to wander around (like the leads) and get sun soaked. There haven’t been many films that take you to a hot spot quite like this one in recent memory.


4. Pierrot le fou
If you mixed two entries on this list (Summer with Monika and Call Me By Your Name), you would get Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le fou: an escape to a smouldering island. No matter what insane shenanigans are happening on screen, the majority of the film is stunning to look at, thanks to the natural landscape around the situations. Once things get heated (for the better, and the worse) between the two leads, Pierrot le fou becomes a boiling pot of varying emotions and images, ready to boil over.


3. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
We have to place at least one western here, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly seems like a wise choice. So many scenes feature the sun suffocating the titular three characters. We also have that dessert sequence where The Man with No Name is dehydrated almost to death, so there’s that. Once we’ve been on a winding adventure and reach the iconic climax, the sun reflects off the ground so much, you could swear we are about to melt if we stick around much longer.


2. Apocalypse Now
Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography has coated every shot with a vibrant orange, and that already makes these battles in Vietnam a bit difficult to handle. As we slowly witness soldiers get more and more hysterical, we can truly feel the unforgiving weather conditions. By the end, the sweat is streaming off of Willard’s skin, and we have to leave this war time hell once and for all.


1. Do the Right Thing
No film has utilized the sun in a better way than Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. A New York block is experiencing a heat wave, but it’s not serendipity that has caused the racial conflicts amongst the habitants and workers. The sun encourages tempers to flare, because patience is being tested. Hot colours are used to coax each scene to be as unbreathable and humid as possible. This is an uncharacteristically hot summer, but it’s a reflection on how bigotry and divide can only exist for so long before confrontation begins. It’s a powerful statement, and it all takes place amongst blood, tears, and tons of sweat.

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Andreas Babiolakis has a Masters degree in Film and Photography Preservation and Collections management from Ryerson University, as well as a Bachelors degree in Cinema Studies from York University. His favourite times of year are the Criterion Collection flash sales and the annual Toronto International Film Festival.