“Winter’s Tale”, 2014

Grand Central Station on book cover of "Winter's Tale" by Mark Helprin 1983

Book cover of “Winter’s Tale” by Mark Helprin 1983

I enjoyed Winter’s Tale.

Mark Helprin is a writer I have a hard time finding the right adjectives for. His writing is beautifully captivating, magical yet true.

I was at once excited to see this movie, yet almost expecting that I might dislike it. It is the danger of seeing a movie made of a favorite book that one re-reads, that carries strong visual imagery that is at once from the author and from within; thus, hard for someone else to recreate, hard for someone else’s vision not to disappoint.

So I went in knowing that the movie was focusing only on the Peter Lake centric part of the story, that much would be left out and that the brave folks taking this book on had a Herculean task to turn it into a movie. I went to see it having dropped any expectations of a scene-for-scene, line-for-line adaptation. I’m glad I did because it enabled me to enjoy it on its own. I even could forgive the occasional overly done upwelling of emotional music that seems prevalent in Hollywood movies today. I understand the critics’ criticism, but don’t judge this movie so harshly. I went to see a movie made by someone who loved Helprin’s story and wanted to share some of its magic.

They made up a lot of stuff and left a lot out, but it felt like it was in the service of getting the story across within set span of time for movie goers. To tell the whole tale would be masterful but would require breaking it apart into two or three movies or at the very least require the days when audiences were used to longer feature films with an Entr’acte. Casting William Hurt as Isaac Penn was genius and his performance brilliant.

Listo as Athansor, The White Horse or The White Dog of Afghanistan was a fittingly beautiful animal that I easily believed was magical and otherworldly yet wholly of the earth.

Director: Akiva Goldsman
Cinematographer: Caleb Deschanel

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