The Tale of Two Tales: My Thoughts Concerning Winter’s Tale (The Motion Picture)

by the other theo

Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a motion picture called Winter’s Tale.  This is how it ended:

Peter Lake, a thief and mechanic mysteriously transported from Manhattan at the turn of the 20th Century to present day Manhattan by falling from the Brooklyn Bridge into the East River, fights his former patron Pearly Soames, crime boss and (secretly) demon in league with Satan (played by Will Smith), in front of the Summer Cottage of the Penn family at the Lake Of The Coheeries in Upstate New York.   Peter defeats Pearly by driving a lump of metal through his skull, and lays a recently deceased Abigail Gamely in a special bed in the house constructed by Willa Penn to save Peter’s true love Beverly Penn (Willa’s sister) a century earlier from consumption.   While the bed did not work for Beverly, it now works for Abigail and miraculously cures her cancer and brings her back to life.   Peter Lake then gets on his white horse named Athansor (also transported forward in time) and rides into the heavens to join the spirit of Beverly in the stars.

Once upon a time, about 30 years ago, there was a novel called Winter’s Tale.   This is how it ended:

Peter Lake, a thief and mechanic transported from Manhattan at the turn of the 20th Century to Manhattan at the turn of the Millennium by falling off his flying horse Athansor into a mysterious Cloud Wall existing outside space and time that appears just outside New York Harbor, fights his former patron Pearly Soames, crime boss brought forward in time with his gang the Shirt Tails as a cosmic balance to Peter’s growing supernatural powers, in Manhattan as three things happen:  all of New York City burns in a millennial reckoning that will re-make the city through a crucible of fire, a Promethean figure named Jackson Mead attempts to throw a bridge of light from the City to Heaven, and Hardesty Marratta and Virginia Gamely Marratta journey to a graveyard on one of the outer islands of the City where her daughter Abigail was recently buried after dying from a mysterious illness.  Pearly defeats Peter, who has become the registrar for the faces of all the lost, forgotten dead children of the City in a miraculous vision, by ramming a sword through his shoulder at the collar bone down through his torso.   As Peter dies, he sees his wounded horse, who also fell through the Cloud Wall, escape the Shirt Tails, leave the the bounds of the Earth, and fly to heaven.   Jackson Mead’s attempt to throw the bridge fails, but Peter’s sacrifice causes a change to the cosmic order, redeems the City, turns the Cloud Wall gold, and brings Abigail to life just as her parents dig her up.   Pearly lives on in the new, changed Manhattan in reduced influence and circumstance because a good, just city cannot exist without the balancing existence of evil.

Hollywood tried, honestly.  It was a valiant effort.  It took someone with talent to even make the attempt, though some questionable choices (like Will Smith) were made.  They just couldn’t come close in three hours, and failed miserably.