In the last scene of the film, Altman employs a type of shot that uses the light and atmospheric conditions of the northern landscape to play with our perception and disorient us. The closing shot, which lasts more than two minutes, shows Essex disappearing into the landscape. It is impossible to determine at what moment we loose sight of him. In an experimental video work made in the same year, Chott el-Djerid (A Portrait in Light and Heat), Bill Viola recorded on video a similar and now classic scene during a blizzard in rural Saskatchewan. In this scene, the figure walks towards the camera; we are not at first aware of his presence, blurred by the cold and snow, and cannot say when we first see him.
In Images de surface Christine Ross writes of this scene, 'Comme le remarque Gene Youngblood, les prairies enneigées de la Saskatchewan sont géographiquement sans limites et se présentent visuellement comme des espaces sans profondeur qui minent la perspective quattrocentriste. D’emblée, les yeux se cognent contre une surface sans repère constituée par la confusion mimétique de la neige et de l’écran' (Ross 1996, 84; my translation, 'As noted by Gene Youngblood, the snow-covered prairies of Saskatchewan are without geographical limits and appear as a depthless space contradicting Renaissance perspective. The eye is confronted with a picture plane lacking any indication of depth or scale. This lack of perspective is caused by the surface of the screen mimicking that of the snow').
As well as being a characteristic quality of the electronic image of video art, the lack of depth of field that the Saskatchewan snowscape presents us with in Viola’s video is the effect of the cold and the winter landscape on our perception. Capturing this blurring of perception was a reason Altman was interested in shooting in the cold.