A white silence proposes itself as an appropriate empty space for us to wait in until the story begins. We are in transition; we are given a few moments to clear our minds of anything likely to interfere with our enjoyment of this movie. As long as it doesn’t go on too long, whiteness can be a tranquil metaphor for unwanted things fading out.
It’s interesting how this mental activity of fade-out and clearing away as we wait for something to happen coincides with the breaking awareness that the image is already full and that our eyes must adjust to its dazzling turbulence. There is an undeniable pleasure in such deception. Our ability to take notice is suddenly called upon in a manner that makes us reflect on it. . . .
And indeed as we grasp the snowstorm as a reality we have not only seen, but imagined, for ourselves, it strikes us first as a thing of beauty. . . . We have undergone an awakening, a jubilant awakening to the fact that snow is presently there to contemplate. And for the time spent catching the drift of whiteness, it is like we are being let in on a wonderful secret.
Toles, George. A House Made of Light: Essays on the Art of Film. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2001.