Saturday, February 22, 2014

"Winter's Tale": suspended animation is not reincarnation, even for Moses

Winter’s Tale” is indeed what high school English teachers call a “fairy tale”.  It’s a fantasy novel by Mark Helprin, and a two-hour Valentine’s Day film by Akiva Goldsman.
  
It’s also a film in two parts, in 1916 and 2014, with a prologue in 1895.  A baby Peter Lake is placed in a boat called “City of Justice” like Moses, in New York harbor.

  
But in 1916 Peter (Colin Farrell) has become a petty thief, who has perhaps made the wrong connections with a local gangster Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe).  It seems as thought Pearly has connections with the Devil (Will Smith), and is concerned about the sliver of good in Peter – he might actually be an angel able to perform miracles.   All of this is demonstrated allegorical in scenes where Peter adopts a white horse that can fly.  Peter tries to burglarize a rich man’s home, but when he meets a young woman, Beverly (Jessica Brown Findlay), afflicted with tuberculosis, he falls in love and loses all of his wrongful impulses.  This all sounds like pure George Gilder.  As a handyman, he actually helps maintain the house (William Hurt is the foreman) when the furnace almost explodes.  Eventually, after some more plotting, Beverly dies in his arms.  The henchmen catch up with him and thrown him in the river to drown.


  
But he “wakes up” a hundred years later, encountering one of the principals in the past (Eva Marie Saint) and helps save another young woman, to perform his miracle and become a star.
  
Some of the critics have called this process “reincarnation”.  Well, it isn’t that exactly.  Lake has been in suspended animation for almost a century, and resumes life at the same age he was before or slightly older, looking to be about 30.  The concept is more like what happens between the two halves of my unpublished 1969 novel “The Proles”, where a few characters’ souls are stored on a computer (a quantum computer, maybe) for fourteen years, to be awakened right after a nuclear war has erupted.  I’ve even proposed another twist, that they could have been awakened at various times before and “died”, not knowing what they had done – but that would seem to violate the law of karma.
  
  
The official site (from Warner Brothers and Village Roadshow Pictures) is here

The music was interesting.  Beverly plays a piano reduction of the finale of the Brahms Violin Concerto (remember that the same music, in its original setting, had played during the credits of "There Will Be Blood" in late 2007);  later the Masquerade Suite of Khachaturian is used, as well as the Waltz from the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique, the last of which is omitted from the credits.  
  
 I saw the film at the Regal in Arlington, small auditorium (but the film is cropped at 2.35:1), small crowd late.  

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