|Directed by||Donald Wrye|
|Produced by||John Kemeny|
|Written by||Gary L. Baim
|Music by||Marvin Hamlisch|
|Edited by||Michael Kahn
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|December 31, 1978|
|Box office||$9.5 million|
Ice Castles is a 1978 American romantic drama film directed by Donald Wrye and starring Lynn-Holly Johnson and Robby Benson. A paperback novelization of the screenplay, by Leonore Fleischer, was released in conjunction with the film. It is the story of Alexis "Lexie" Winston, a young figure skater, and her rise and fall from super stardom. Tragedy strikes when, following a freak accident, Lexie loses her sight, leaving her to hide away in the privacy of her own despair. She eventually perseveres and begins competing in figure skating again.
The work was filmed on location in Colorado and Minnesota. Its theme song "Through the Eyes of Love" was made famous by Melissa Manchester and was nominated for the 52nd Academy Awards (April 1980).
A remake also directed by Wrye, was released direct to video in 2010.
Alexis "Lexie" Winston is a young girl from a small town in Iowa who dreams of becoming a champion figure skater. Her boyfriend, Nick Peterson, dreams of being a hockey player.
Coached by a family friend and former skater, Lexie enters a regional championship over her father's protests. There she is discovered by an elite coach who sees her potential despite a lack of training and a relatively advanced age for figure skaters. Over her father's objections, Lexie moves from her home in Waverly, Iowa to train at the legendary Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She becomes unpopular with the other female skaters in training because of the attention lavished on her natural talent and the media attention her coach obtains for her in an effort to make her known to the skating world. Lexie proves and enhances her skating abilities and qualifies for the senior championship level. Lexie's life changes drastically in the process. She becomes a star, alienates her boyfriend and begins dating an older man, Brian, who is a television broadcaster, following her training.
Lexie becomes uncomfortable with the changes in her life and in herself. Lexie leaves a party for skating sponsors and goes down to the outdoor rink nearby to skate. Her coach and the party goers notice her, and are watching through the windows as Lexie skates. She attempts a difficult triple jump, but lands off the ice onto a set of tables and chairs that are chained together near the edge of the rink. Lexie suffers a serious head injury, with a blood clot in her brain that robs her of her eyesight. She can see only light and blurry shapes. The doctor is uncertain if her injury is permanent.
Lexie goes home and becomes a recluse. Nick, who still resents her affair with Brian, demands that she get out of the house and back onto the ice. Despite their mutual resentment and Lexie's depression, they work through their estrangement and rediscover their love for each other. With help from Nick, her father Marcus and original coach Beulah, Lexie begins to believe she can still fulfill her dreams. She is virtually blind, but can still see the boards at the edge of the rink, so she learns how to skate around her disability. She enrolls in the sectional championship and competes once again. Lexie presents a flawless, beautiful program and wins an enthusiastic standing ovation from the crowd. Her ruse, however, is discovered when she trips over the roses, thrown onto the ice by adoring fans after her performance, and falls to the ice. Nick rushes to her side and says, "We forgot about the flowers," as the crowd realizes that she has not recovered from her injuries but has risen above them.
Cast and characters
- Robby Benson as Nick Peterson
- Lynn-Holly Johnson as Alexis Winston
- Colleen Dewhurst as Beulah Smith
- Tom Skerritt as Marcus Winston
- Jennifer Warren as Deborah Mackland
- David Huffman as Brian Dockett
- Diane Reilly as Sandy
- Craig T. McMullen as Doctor
- Kelsey Ufford as Ceciel Monchet
- Leonard Lilyholm as Hockey Coach
- Brian Foley as Choreographer
- John-Claude Bleuze as French Coach
- Theresa Willmus as Annette Brashlout
- Diana Holden as X-ray technician
- Michelle McLean as Skater
- Carol Williams as Television producer
- Kevin Heinen as Man in green jacket throwing rose
The film holds a 44% "Rotten" rating on aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 9 reviews, with an average score of 5.3/10. (The site's audience review rating was higher, at 68% and with an average of 3.5 of 5 stars.)
A movie reviewer for Variety wrote, "Ice Castles combines a touching love story with the excitement and intense pressure of Olympic competition skating" and praised the performances of Dewhurst and Skerrit.
Roger Ebert disliked the sentimentality of the movie, writing, "Call me Scrooge; stories like this make me cringe. I don't deny the bravery of the characters being portrayed -- I just object to the emotional bankruptcy of the people making the movies... One of the melancholy aspects of Ice Castles is the quality of talent that's been brought to such an unhappy enterprise. Lynn-Holly Johnson, who plays the figure skater, is an appealing young woman who actually happens to be a good skater who can act. Robby Benson, as her boy friend, is always an engaging performer... The supporting cast includes the irreplaceable Colleen Dewhurst... There's also a brief role (as a hard-boiled coach) for the fascinating actress Jennifer Warren, who was electrifying in Night Moves and never seems to get the roles she deserves. They all act well together, and the direction by Donald Wrye tries to get beneath surfaces, to show plausible people in actual situations, to give some notion of the pressures on young athletes. The girl's small town is colorfully painted, the family's home life is drawn in a nice offbeat way, and the details of competitive ice-skating are worked in casually."
Reviewer Austin Kennedy also gave a lukewarm review, though praised the acting as "the better part of this movie. Real life skater Lynn-Holly Johnson is charming and does a fine job as the innocent starlet."
Common Sense Media, which advocates on child and family issues, gave the film 3 stars out of 5 and wrote, "Parents need to know that 16-year-old Alexis is thrown into a world too fast and big for her. As a consequence, she makes some self-destructive decisions... With a plot that will engage romantics young and old, this Academy Award-nominated film is an excellent illustration of what happens to a girl when she becomes successful too soon."
Janet Maslin, in The New York Times, complained that she found the movie "amazingly hard to follow," "confusing," and "baffling;" she writes, "Wrye's bungling renders the story sob-proof." The (unscientific) response of readers of The Times gave higher praise, at a 4.5 of 5 stars.
The website "Spirituality and Practice" called the movie "a totally affecting story" and a "melodrama that really works, thanks to the sure-handed directing abilities of Donald Wrye. He never lets it slip into sloppy sentimentality. And there are several very strong performances."
Director Donald Wrye filmed a remake of the film in 2009. The film, starring Taylor Firth and Rob Mayes, was released as a direct-to-DVD title on February 9, 2010, shortly before the 2010 Winter Olympics.
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