The Big Chill (film)
|The Big Chill|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Lawrence Kasdan|
|Produced by||Michael Shamberg|
|Written by||Lawrence Kasdan |
|Starring||Tom Berenger |
Mary Kay Place
|Music by||Meg Kasdan|
|Editing by||Carol Littleton|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Release date(s)||September 28, 1983|
|Running time||105 minutes|
The Big Chill is a 1983 American comedy-drama film directed by Lawrence Kasdan, starring Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, and JoBeth Williams. It is about a group of baby boomer college friends who reunite briefly after 15 years due to the suicide of a friend. Kevin Costner was cast as the dead character Alex, but all scenes showing his face were cut.
The Big Chill was filmed entirely on location in Beaufort, South Carolina and was shot at the same antebellum house used as a location for The Great Santini. The soundtrack features ten late '60s/early '70s pop/rock songs, including "The Weight", "Good Lovin', "In the Midnight Hour" (the Young Rascals version), "You Can't Always Get What You Want", "I Heard It Through the Grapevine (the Marvin Gaye version)", "A Whiter Shade of Pale", "My Girl" (the Temptations version), "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" and "Joy to the World" (the Three Dog Night version).
Harold Cooper (Kevin Kline) is bathing his young son when his doctor/wife, Sarah (Glenn Close), receives a phone call at their Richmond home telling her that their friend, Alex, has committed suicide by slashing his wrists in the bathtub of their guest house in South Carolina.
At the funeral Harold and Sarah are reunited with college friends from the University of Michigan in the 1960s. They include Sam (Tom Berenger), a famous television actor now living in Los Angeles; Meg (Mary Kay Place), an unhappy chain smoking former public defender who is now a real estate attorney in Atlanta, who wants a child; Michael (Jeff Goldblum), a sex-obsessed People journalist; Nick (William Hurt), a Vietnam veteran and former radio host who suffers from impotence; Karen (JoBeth Williams), a housewife from suburban Detroit who's unhappy in her marriage to her advertising executive husband, Richard (Don Galloway), an outsider. Also present is Chloe (Meg Tilly), Alex's much-younger girlfriend at the time of his suicide.
Everyone goes from the cemetery to Harold and Sarah's house, where they are invited to stay for the weekend. During the first night there, a bat flies into the attic while Meg and Nick are getting reacquainted. Sam later finds Nick watching television and they briefly talk about Karen. The two then go into the kitchen and find Richard, her husband, making a sandwich, and the three make small talk which turns into a discussion about responsibility and adulthood.
The next morning Harold and Nick go jogging. where Harold tells Nick that his successful company sells running shoes, and that he's about to become rich. And Harold confides with Nick that Sarah and Alex had an affair five years earlier. Nick comforts Harold by saying, "She didn't marry Alex."
Richard returns home to look after his and Karen's kids, but she decides to stay for the weekend. Nick, Harold, Michael and Chloe go for a drive while Sam and Karen go shopping. Meg reveals to Sarah that she wants to have a child, and that she is going to ask Sam to be the father, knowing now that Nick can't.
Harold listens to Michael's plans to buy a nightclub. Chloe takes Nick to the abandoned house that she and Alex were going to renovate; she tells him that he reminds her of Alex, to which Nick replies, "I ain't him."
During dinner Sarah starts tearing up over Alex as the group talks about him. Harold puts "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" by The Temptations on the stereo and everyone dances while cleaning up the dishes. While the others sit around and get high, Meg asks Sam to father her baby, but he declines.
The next morning Nick, Sam, and Harold go jogging, and the subject of Alex's suicide comes up again. Harold's surprise arrives - sneakers for everyone to wear during the upcoming Michigan football game. The group, minus Nick, watches the game on TV while Sarah tells Karen about her brief affair with Alex and how it affected their friendship negatively. She is subtly warning Karen to rethink her plans to have an affair with Sam.
During the game Michael offers to father Meg's child, alluding to the fact that they had sex many years ago during college. At halftime everyone goes outside to play touch football. Nick returns with a cop following him. He said that Nick ran a red light and was belligerent, but that he would drop the charges if Sam would hop into Nick's Porsche like his TV character, J.T. Lancer, always does. Sam is unsuccessful and hurts himself, but the officer drops the charges anyway and apologizes to Harold.
Karen later tells Sam that she loves him, wants to leave Richard and live with Sam and her two sons. When they kiss, Sam pulls away and tells Karen not to leave Richard, as she will regret it in the long run. He confesses that it was "boredom" that caused his own marriage to fail, and he doesn't want her to make the same mistake. Karen feels misled and angrily storms into the house.
Harold is on the phone with his daughter, Molly, and lets Meg talk to her. Observing their interaction on the phone, Sarah decides to let Harold impregnate Meg, but does not tell him yet.
The group once again discusses Alex. Nick says, "Alex died for most of us a long time ago," but Sam disagrees and leaves. Karen follows him and the two have sex outside. Sarah tells Harold about Meg's situation while Chloe and Nick go to bed together, even though he warns her of his condition. Meg and Harold then have sex – she says "I feel like I got a great break on a used car" – while Michael and Sarah joke around and interview each other with a video camera.
In the morning while Karen is packing her clothes, she subtly tells Sam that she has decided to stay with Richard. At the breakfast table Harold reveals that Nick and Chloe will be staying in the guest house for a while, then Michael sarcastically states, "Sarah, Harold. We took a secret vote. We're not leaving. We're never leaving." They all laugh and "Joy to the World" plays as the credits roll.
- Tom Berenger as Sam Weber
- Glenn Close as Sarah Cooper
- Jeff Goldblum as Michael Gold
- William Hurt as Nick Carlton
- Kevin Kline as Harold Cooper
- Mary Kay Place as Meg Jones
- Meg Tilly as Chloe
- JoBeth Williams as Karen Bowens
- Don Galloway as Richard Bowens
- James Gillis[disambiguation needed] as Minister
- Ken Place as Peter the Cop
- Jacob Kasdan as Autograph Seeker
- Patricia Gaul as Annie
- Kevin Costner as Alex (scenes deleted)
- Muriel Moore as Alex's mother
Critical response 
|“||These Americans are in their 30s today, but back then they were the Now Generation. Right Now: give me peace, give me justice, gimme good lovin'. For them, in the voluptuous bloom of youth, the '60s was a banner you could carry aloft or wrap yourself inside. A verdant anarchy of politics, sex, drugs and style carpeted the landscape. And each impulse was scored to the rollick of the new music: folk, rock, pop, R&B. The armies of the night marched to Washington, but they boogied to Liverpool and Motown. Now, in 1983, Harold & Sarah & Sam & Karen & Michael & Meg & Nick—classmates all from the University of Michigan at the end of our last interesting decade—have come to the funeral of a friend who has slashed his wrists. Alex was a charismatic prodigy of science and friendship and progressive hell raising who opted out of academe to try social work, then manual labor, then suicide. He is presented as a victim of terminal decompression from the orbital flight of his college years: a worst-case scenario his friends must ponder, probing themselves for symptoms of the disease.||”|
Vincent Canby of The New York Times argued that the film is a "very accomplished, serious comedy" and an "unusually good choice to open this year's festival in that it represents the best of mainstream American film making."
Roger Ebert stated, "The Big Chill is a splendid technical exercise. It has all the right moves. It knows all the right words. Its characters have all the right clothes, expressions, fears, lusts and ambitions. But there's no payoff and it doesn't lead anywhere. I thought at first that was a weakness of the movie. There also is the possibility that it's the movie's message."
The film was parodied by T. Coraghessan Boyle in his short story "The Little Chill." The story begins, "Hal had known Rob and Irene, Jill, Harvey, Tottle, and Pesky since elementary school, and they were all 40 going on 60."
According to various industry websites (such as www.Hollywood.com), The Big Chill was somewhat similar in its basic "friends reuniting to reminisce about the good old days" premise to John Sayles' earlier independent movie, Return of the Secaucus Seven, but has several major story and character differences.
Kasdan had planned to use The Big Chill to showcase his actor friend, Kevin Costner, but circumstances forced him to almost completely cut the actor from the release print. (He's seen only in the opening sequence, and only in the form of specific body parts — i.e. hair, his wrists — as they are being prepared for a funeral.) Kasdan made it up to Costner by casting him in a plum role in his next directorial effort, Silverado (1985), a rousing return to the Western genre which Kasdan and most others his age knew well.
Fans have long clamored to see Costner's footage for several sequences showing Alex's life prior to his suicide, but in documentaries and interviews since, Kasden has never shown anything more than still photographs from the location shoot. He has also refused to do any sort of "director's cut," saying that the version of the film as it has stood since 1983 is his director's cut and will not be augmented.
Kasdan has approved the release of additional footage, including elongated parts of other scenes that were cut for brevity or other reasons, as bonus material on DVD, but to date none of the Costner footage has ever been released or seen by those outside the production.
In High Fidelity (film), Dick and Barry are talking about the Rolling Stones' song, "You Can't Always Get What You Want" when Dick immediately disqualifies it for inclusion in their compiled suggestions for Top 10 Songs About Death, evidently because they dislike the film. Dick disqualifies it for its use in The Big Chill soundtrack, a guilty by association exclusion.
The Big Chill won two major awards:
- Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice Award
- Writers Guild of America Award Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen
It was nominated for three Oscars:
- Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Glenn Close)
- Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
- Best Picture
Other nominations include:
- Directors Guild of America Award
- BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay
- Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
- Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay
The first ten from Original Motion Picture Soundtrack are heard in the film, and the remainder of the film's songs (aside from the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want") were released in 1984 on More Songs from the Original Soundtrack.
In 1998, both albums were re-mastered, the first without the four additional songs, which had also appeared on More Songs and were left there. In 2004, Hip-O Records released a Deluxe edition, containing not only sixteen of the eighteen songs from the film ("Quicksilver Girl," by The Steve Miller Band, was curiously unavailable), but three additional film instrumentals. A second "music of a generation" disc of nineteen additional tracks was included as well, some of which had appeared both on the original soundtrack and the More Songs release.
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 
|The Big Chill|
|Soundtrack album from the film The Big Chill by Various Artists|
|Released||September 8, 1983|
1998 reissue cover
- Side One
- Marvin Gaye (1968): "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (extended version) (Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong) – 5:03
- The Temptations (1965): "My Girl" (Smokey Robinson, Ronald White) – 2:55
- The Young Rascals (1966): "Good Lovin'" (Rudy Clark, Arthur Resnick) – 2:28
- The Miracles (1965): "The Tracks of My Tears" (Robinson, Warren Moore, Marvin Tarplin) – 2:53
- Three Dog Night (1970): "Joy to the World" (Hoyt Axton) – 3:24
- Side Two
- The Temptations (1966): "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" (Whitfield, Edward Holland Jr.) – 2:31
- Aretha Franklin (1968): "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" (Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Jerry Wexler) – 2:41
- Smokey Robinson and The Miracles (1967): "I Second That Emotion" (Robinson, Al Clevland) – 2:46
- Procol Harum (1967): "A Whiter Shade of Pale" (Keith Reid, Gary Brooker, Matthew Fisher) – 4:03
- The Exciters (1963): "Tell Him" (Bert Berns) – 2:29
- Extra CD tracks
- The Four Tops (1965): "It's the Same Old Song" (E. Holland, Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland) – 2:45
- Martha and The Vandellas (1964): "Dancing in the Street" (Marvin Gaye, William "Mickey" Stevenson) – 2:38
- Marvin Gaye (1971): "What's Going On" (Gaye, Clevland, Renaldo "Obie" Benson) – 3:52
- The Marvelettes (1964): "Too Many Fish in the Sea" (Whitfield, E. Holland) – 2:26
|1983||Billboard Black Albums||40|
|1983||The Billboard 200||17|
|RIAA – USA||Gold||December 12, 1983|
|RIAA – USA||Platinum||March 29, 1984|
|RIAA – USA||Double Platinum||September 27, 1985|
|RIAA – USA||4X Platinum||July 20, 1998|
|RIAA – USA||6X Platinum||October 15, 1998|
More Songs From The Original Soundtrack 
- Side One
- Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Bad Moon Rising"
- The Beach Boys - "Wouldn't It Be Nice"
- Four Tops - "It's The Same Old Song"
- Percy Sledge - "When A Man Loves A Woman"
- Martha and the Vandellas - "Dancing in the Street"
- Marvin Gaye - "What's Going On"
- Side Two
- The Young Rascals - "In the Midnight Hour"
- Steve Miller Band - "Quicksilver Girl"
- The Spencer Davis Group - "Gimme Some Lovin'"
- The Marvelettes - "Too Many Fish in the Sea"
- The Band - "The Weight"
Deluxe Edition 
- Disc 1
- Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through The Grapevine (extended version)
- The Temptations - My Girl
- The Young Rascals - Good Lovin'
- The Miracles - The Tracks Of My Tears
- Three Dog Night - Joy To The World
- The Temptations - Ain't Too Proud To Beg
- Aretha Franklin - (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman
- Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - I Second That Emotion
- Procol Harum - A Whiter Shade Of Pale
- The Exciters - Tell Him
- Creedence Clearwater Revival - Bad Moon Rising
- Percy Sledge - When A Man Loves A Woman
- The Young Rascals - In The Midnight Hour
- The Spencer Davis Group - Gimme Some Lovin'
- The Band - The Weight
- The Beach Boys - Wouldn't It Be Nice
- Bert Kaempfert - Strangers In The Night
- The Rolling Stones - You Can't Always Get What You Want (church version)
- J.T. Lancer Theme
- Disc 2
- Four Tops - It's The Same Old Song
- Martha & The Vandellas - Dancing In The Street
- Marvin Gaye - What's Going On
- The Marvelettes - Too Many Fish In The Sea
- Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing
- Jimmy Ruffin - What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted
- Jr. Walker & The All Stars - Shotgun
- Doobie Brothers - Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While)
- The Supremes - Ask Any Girl
- Lesley Gore - You Don't Own Me
- Spanky & Our Gang - Like To Get To Know You
- The Mamas And The Papas - Monday, Monday
- Moody Blues - Nights In White Satin (The Night)
- Joe Cocker - Feeling Alright
- Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders - Game Of Love
- James Brown - I Got You (I Feel Good)
- Blues Magoos - (We Ain't Got) Nothing Yet
- The Zombies - Time Of The Season
- Howard Tate - Get It While You Can
See also 
- Emmanuel, Susan. "THIRTYSOMETHING". Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved 2008-05-08.
- Corliss, Richard (1983-09-12). "Cinema: You Get What You Need". Time. Retrieved 2008-05-08.
- SCREEN: 'THE BIG CHILL,' REUNION OF 60'S ACTIVISTS
- Ebert, Roger (1983-09-30). "The Big Chill". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved 2008-05-08.
- "The Big Chill (1983)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-05-08.
- Boyle, T. Coraghessan (1989) "The Little Chill," in If the River Was Whiskey. New York: Viking.
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- The Big Chill at the Internet Movie Database
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