Diligence First
Current Focus:
Winter's Tale and movie adaption

Last update: 9:15 pm ET, Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Mission: Provide a centralized source of speculation and information
on the Winter's Tale film adaption, as well as a forum to discuss themes from the book. 

Email: telling@sayandtell.com
IMDB handle: gounc123
Wikipedia handle: Gounc123


I recently finished the book Winter's Tale and I keep seeing things everyday that either remind me of the book or make me even more confused about what I liked and didn't like. I bought the book after seeing it mentioned in a reading list for the President of the United States.

Real Simple, November 2012, posted by "Garth", realsimple.com/bookclub: What book should be on the president's nightstand? One of the greatest novels of the late 20th century, Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale, is about striving for a better future in a world riddled with pain and privation. It's good inspiration for someone trying to make big changes in hard times. 

As an example of some of the daily ties for me to Winter's Tale, the National Intelligence Council released a report in December 2012 – Global Trends 2030 – that compares the current age to the late 18th century, using the book A Tale of Two Cities as the bridge between the two epochs.

National Intelligence Council (Global Trends 2030): The backdrop for A Tale of Two Cities as the French Revolution and dawn of the Industrial Age. We are living through a similar transformative period in which the breadth and scope of possible developments – both good and bad – are equal to if not greater than the aftermath of the political and economic revolutions of the late 18th century.

One passage from A Tale of Two Cities selected by this Global Trends report helped me understand the foundation of all of the different stories in Winter's Tale.

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair...we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way...

I found another useful comparison from a BYU professor’s opinions online about Shakespeare's play The Winter's Tale. 

Bruce W. Young, BYU professor (http://english.byu.edu/faculty/youngb/wintale.htm): The Winter's Tale challenges our notion of what is possible, what is real, and it does so in part to help us see that the narrowing of our vision of what is possible is as responsible as anything for the misery, the destructive conflicts, that enter our lives.

This BYU online article by Bruce Young focuses on the play The Winter's Tale, but disregarding the specific characters from that play and just focusing on his interpretations helps put some meaning behind my enthusiasm for the book Winter's Tale, as well as my interest in the film adaption.

As opposed to approaching the film adaption with trepidation, I look forward to seeing what the filmmakers choose to portray on screen in terms of the themes and specific scenes. Full disclosure as I have not seen Cloud Atlas, nor have I read or seen a performance of the Shakespeare play The Winter's Tale, but I believe there are similarities among these dramatic works and the book Winter's Tale and the film adaption. For one, Cloud Atlas was a successful book that was recently made into a movie that has had a mixed reception (based on movie reviews and box office results). Cloud Atlas was also a book that many considered to be un-adaptable for the screen due to its characters in multiple time periods. That is a similarity with Winter's Tale.

I think Hollywood thinks we are ready for movies this year that point to a larger meaning of our lives, and also to the potential for individuals to play a significant role in the future direction of our world. I believe these types of movies are comforting, as they imply there is meaning to even the inconsequential events of our daily lives, and also imply every person has an opportunity to play a meaningful role in the future path of humankind. I think I am talking about faith, but I am not ready to point to links to specific religions from all of the aforementioned books and movies, as I think they are mostly non-denominational. Perhaps that is the point of Hollywood adapting these books – they may have aspects that bring up universal questions of faith, as opposed to being seen as endorsing or referencing a specific religion. As a result, they could have more mass appeal, sort of like Les Miserables.

Preliminary casting reports (characters in the book casted in the movie):

Peter Lake. Colin Farrell will play Peter Lake, a character in the book that gets help from a white horse (Athansor) with supernatural running and jumping ability. Other candidates for this part included Aaron Johnson, Benjamin Walker, Luke Evans, Garrett Hedlund, Liam Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston.

Peter Lake's parents. Matt Bomer and Lucy Griffiths will reportedly play Peter Lake's parents. In the book, the parents travel with Peter on a boat from a foreign country to New York City. Upon arrival, New York officials brutally decide who can enter the city and who has to go back to the country they came from. Denied entry into the city, and forced to stay on their boat in the New York City harbor, the parents put infant Peter Lake in a small model boat and let him drift away in the currents so he can strive for a presumably better life in New York City. The book covers these events in a few pages, but maybe the movie devotes more time to profiling the journey, and the decisions, of Peter Lake's parents.

Pearly Soames. Russell Crowe will play Pearly Soames, a character in the book that leads a group of feared criminals and who wants to kill Peter Lake. At no point in the book did Soames directly interact with Beverly Penn or threaten her, so some shots from filming may indicate some sort of heroine in distress angle.

Romeo Tan. Kevin Corrigan will play Romeo Tan, described as Pearly Soames' right-hand man (a small character in the book), but maybe one with an expanded role in the movie.

Beverly Penn. Jessica Brown Findlay will play Beverly Penn, a character in the book that falls in love with Peter Lake and has a fever that makes her comfortable in extremely cold weather. One of Ms. Findlay's first acting roles was in the television series Downton Abbey. Other candidates for this part included Bella Heathcote, Elizabeth Olsen, Gabriella Wilde, Lily Collins, Margot Robbie and Sarah Gadon.

Isaac Penn. William Hurt

Hardesty Marratta. No reports yet of who hired for this role, if this character made it the screenplay. 

Virginia Gamely. No reports yet of who hired for this role, if this character made it the screenplay. 

Virginia Gamely's mother. This character possibly isn't in the movie, or it could be played by Eva Marie Saint, although there is no verification of this. In the book, Virginia Gamely's mother has a flair for vocabulary and is much older than Hardesty Marratta, who she houses after he and approximately 200 other people are rescued from freezing in a stuck train.

Judge. Will Smith as a character in the movie named "Judge." Any speculation on what this is? Maybe a character that combines Jackson Meade, Cecil Mature and Reverend Doctor Mootfowl. Or maybe this is a character new to the movie, one that serves as an explanation of why certain characters can live in different epochs.


Other actors affiliated with film adaption - role not confirmed:

Eva Marie Saint

Jennifer Connelly. Some reports have Connelly playing Beverly's mother, but this was not a character in the book. If this report for Connelly's role is incorrect, then a possible other role for Connelly is Virginia Gamely. Based on recent set shots, Connelly is dressed in modern clothes on the set during shooting, implying a character such as Virgia Gamely. Virginia Gamely may be a key character to have in the movie, provided the movie includes part of the book set in more modern times. Also, conceivably Virginia can be in the movie adaption while cutting out other characters that occupy many pages in the book (Hardesty, Virginia's mother, Christiana - from Eastern Long Island, saves Athansor and then moves to New York City), but have limited connection to Peter Lake, who ties together the different epochs in the book. Connelly has worked in the past with both Mr. Crowe and Mr. Goldsman in A Beautiful Mind, in which Connelly played a much older character at the end of the movie. She recently worked with Mr. Crowe again in Noah, another movie partly filmed in the New York City area.


Potential scenes adapted from book for film adaption (spoiler alert for book, in chronological order):

* Pearly holds a pivotal gang meeting (including Peter Lake as a member of the gang) in the tunnels of Manhattan's water system

* Pearly's gang is nearly wiped out by Peter Lake's adoptive family in the lowlands near Bayonne, New Jersey

* Beverly's ability to immobilize Pearly and his gang at a New Year's Eve celebration

* Horse and Lake escape gang on the Brooklyn Bridge

* Virginia Gamely (with her baby) climbing a wall of snow on the Hudson River to get to New York City

* Hardesty Marratta getting trapped on a stuck train after a brutal snow storm and getting rescued by people from Virginia Gamely's home town

* Hardesty stays in a 120-floor hotel and sees a mysterious light

* Hardesty and Virginia witness a terrible fire in [[Five Points, Manhattan|Five Points]]

Key character traits actors may have to incorporate in film adaption (provided that character element included in screenplay):

* Pearly's obsession with bright colors 

* Pearly's motivation to steal a ship of gold to create a room of light in a tower

* Peter Lake's aimlessness in modern epoch - YouTube video shows this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cz3lt16uW8E)

Similarities between A Winter's Tale and Winter's Tale (http://english.byu.edu/faculty/youngb/wintale.htm):
"unrealistic realism"
Elements of fantasy and romance
Full of coincidences and fantasy and a magical happy ending
Long-ago setting, never-never land
Notable coincidences 
Symbolism of seas
Faith to believe the apparently unbelievable
Face the hard facts of life: evil, death, the potential for human misery.
Remind us that in a sense there are no endings–no closing scenes to any of our stories–except perhaps death. And in raising the issue of death, the play challenges even its right to say the last word.
We find happy endings only in the world of the imagination.
Possible to vanquish death 

Differences between A Winter's Tale and Winter's Tale (http://english.byu.edu/faculty/youngb/wintale.htm):
Facts of geography are important in Winter’s Tale
No plot similarities
Characters in Winter’s Tale believe the improbable
In the book, supernatural not expressed in just humans (Athansor)
A real resurrection in the book, versus an "apparent" resurrection in the Shakespeare play

Other notes:

There are some similarities between the animated movie Tangled and Winter's Tale, such as a thief taking a secluded girl out into the world (Peter Lake taking Beverly out dancing and in a sleigh ride) and a white horse.


Other research topics:

What does the Judge do in the movie?
What characters must be in the movie based on the casting announced so far?
What is the purpose of resurrecting the baby in the book?
Why is Peter Lake a saint (page 523 of book version isbn 978-0-15-603119-6)
Why can some people live in different times without aging?
Does this have the potential to be a good movie adaption?
Does the last third of the book need to be in the movie? Did anyone like the last part of the book as much as the first?
Will Lake of the Coheeries be in the movie? 
How about the miniature version of the Short Tails gang? 
Peter Lake's air-bending powers in the movie?

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