Last night I stumbled upon a film, Winter's Tale, on HBO. It was an enchanting surprise. Well cast with Colin Farrell as Peter Lake, the reluctant hero, facing Russell Crowe as the villain, it is an amazing production. Akiva Goldsman wrote the screenplay for the Mark Helprin novel of the same name, and directed the film.
It's 1916 in New York City. Peter Lake is an enigma. He was found unconscious in a boat that drifted to shore by a native American played by the wonderful Graham Greene. Along the way Peter discovers he has an aptitude for two things - repairing all manner of mechanical devices and theft.
His only possession is a magical white horse, known only as "Horse," who conveys to him what he should do. When they are about to flee evil Russell Crowe and his minions, the horse stops in front of a snow covered mansion and won't budge. So Peter gets off to make one more score before leaving the area.
The mansion's only occupant is a beautiful young woman, named Beverly Penn,who turns out to be dying of "consumption" what we know as tuberculosis. She is frail and ethereally beautiful. Played by Jessica Brown Findlay, Beverly is a memorable character.
Peter falls immediately in love with her and vows to protect her on her remaining life journey. Beverly tells him that when we die, when our lives, no matter how many or how few are over, we fly to the heavens and become stars. She chants the name of many stars. A habit he gains in the future.
I won't spoil everything for you but will say, Peter is not successful in keeping her alive. When she dies, he cannot revive her. Even though her baby sister Willa has shown him the special bed she has prepared in their greenhouse where the princess can be revived with her true love's kiss.
The film then jumps from 1916 to 2014. Peter appears again with no memory of who he is. It turns out his real purpose was saving another red-haired girl, instead of Beverly. Bit by bit he remembers and finds her.
Along the way, he meets elderly Willa, played by the still beautiful Eva Marie Saint.
The ending of the film is a gorgeous fantasy, one that will stay with me for a long time, I think.
There is one bad bit with the magical horse where the bad guys try to capture him, but Peter frees him and saves him.
I have to tell you I was sobbing by the end, not because it was so awful, but because it was so beautiful. Of course the fact I take care of a 93 year old may have played into that reaction as well.
Look for Will Smith, in a surprising turn as Lucifer - yep, I mean THE Lucifer.
This is the best film I've seen in a long time. It's currently running on HBO, but is also available for rental from your favorite vendor.
Check this one out. It is a spellbinding work of art.
Until next time...