Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin


I just saw Winter’s Tale, the film adaptation by Akiva Goldsman. While it was a huge disappointment as a film, despite Caleb Deschanel’s gorgeous cinematography and terrific acting, I found myself finding touch points to remember the novel.

Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin is a classic novel published in 1983. Filled with magical realism, great characters, a magnificent New York City at both turns of the century, and oysters upon oysters – not to mention a flying white horse – the novel is too dense and layered for a simple two hour movie.

Whole sections were stripped away – particularly the Baymen of the Bayonne Marsh, how Peter Lake becomes a mechanic – indeed, the whole industrial age meme is gone. The cloud wall is also missing, or the powers that Peter Lake assumes upon his reentry into the world of Manhattan.

The significance of Grand Central Station is missing, too. Jackson Meade, master bridge builder, is missing. The entire meaning of the novel is missing, which is sadly explained to us in narration.

I would encourage film students to see the movie just for Caleb Deschanel’s cinematography, which will sadly not be seen by many people because the film is terribly truncated from the original novel. If the director, Akiva Goldsman, so loved the book, and it became deeply personal to him due to a loss he sustained, I’m at a loss as to how he felt he honored Mr. Helprin’s intentions.

Maybe someday, justice will be done, and this book will receive its due. Until then, read the book. Also read Helprin’s collection of early stories, “Ellis Island and Other Stories” to read the story that begins the extraordinary tale set forth in Winter’s Tale.

Also read “Memoir from Antproof Case,” which is thoroughly entertaining.

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