Winter's Tale (film)

Winter's Tale (released in the United Kingdom and Ireland as A New York Winter's Tale[2]) is a 2014 American romantic fantasy film[1] based on the 1983 novel Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin. The film is written, produced and directed by Akiva Goldsman (in his directorial debut). It stars Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt, Eva Marie Saint, Russell Crowe and Will Smith. Winter's Tale premiered at London on February 13 and was theatrically released on February 14 in the United States by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film has a 13% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and grossed $30.8 million on a $75 million budget. It also received a Golden Trailer nomination for Best Romance Poster. Winter's Tale was released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 24, 2014 by Warner Home Video.

Winter's Tale
Winter's tale (film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAkiva Goldsman
Produced by
Written byAkiva Goldsman
Based onWinter's Tale
by Mark Helprin
Music by
CinematographyCaleb Deschanel
Edited by
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • February 13, 2014 (2014-02-13) (London)
  • February 14, 2014 (2014-02-14) (United States)
Running time
118 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
Budget$75 million[3]
Box office$30.8 million[4]


In 1895, a young immigrant couple is refused entry into Manhattan because they have consumption (Tuberculosis). When their infant son is not allowed entry to the country without them, the couple place him in a model sailboat named "City of Justice," in which the baby floats to the New York City shoreline. In 1916, the baby boy has grown up to become Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), a thief raised by a supernatural demon posing as the gangster Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe). Peter is marked for death when he decides to leave Pearly's gang. In a confrontation, he is rescued by a mysterious (winged at times) white horse, his guardian angel.

Although Peter hopes to move to Florida and come back in the summer, the horse encourages him to steal from one last mansion. The mansion is the home where Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay) lives, a young woman dying of consumption, whose fever is so high she sleeps outside in a tent in the winter cold. While her publisher father Isaac (William Hurt) and younger sister Willa are not home, Beverly discovers Peter preparing to rob the house. When Peter assures her that he no longer wishes to commit robbery, Beverly offers to make him a cup of tea. They tell each other their stories and fall in love. Pearly orders his men to Beverly's home, believing that saving her is Peter's "miracle" and spiritual destiny and that he can destroy Peter by preventing it. Peter rescues Beverly from being knifed by Pearly, and they escape to the Lake of the Coheeries, where Pearly, who is supernaturally limited to the five boroughs of New York City, cannot follow. Peter meets Beverly's family at their summer home and wins their respect.

While on a walk, Beverly explains to Peter that everyone is born with a miracle inside and they are ultimately destined to become stars when they die. Pearly asks Lucifer (Will Smith), for access to the lake home, but his request is denied. Instead, Pearly, who refers to himself as a Knight among Lucifer's angels, calls in a debt owed to him by another of Lucifer's angels. At a ball, the angel disguised as a waiter poisons Beverly's drink. When Peter and Beverly return home from the ball, Peter watches the shadows she casts upon the sides of her lighted tent, joins her, and the two make love. Her pulse races faster than ever due to the poison in her heart, and she dies. After the funeral, when Peter and his mysterious white horse return to the city, Pearly and his men surround them on the Brooklyn Bridge. To save its life, Peter orders his mysterious winged horse to fly away, and Pearly gives Peter five vicious head-butts, pushing him off the bridge.

Peter miraculously survives but wanders around the city with amnesia for a century, drawing chalk art of a red-headed girl on the pavements. In 2014, the 119 year-old, but physically undiminished Peter, bumps into a young girl named Abby and meets her mother, Virginia Gamely (Jennifer Connelly). He rediscovers the brass name plate of the "City of Justice", the toy sailboat in which his parents placed him. Peter then discovers the Theatre of the Coheeries, founded by Isaac, who has dedicated it to Beverly. He visits the Isaac Penn Reading Room where Virginia works, and she helps him restore his memory using historical photographs archived at the library. While there, he meets Beverly's now elderly sister Willa (Eva Marie Saint), who is the owner of Virginia's newspaper.

When Peter visits the Gamelys for dinner, he learns that Abby has cancer. Realizing that Abby, who is wearing a red scarf (like his sketches) and has red hair, is his "miracle" and spiritual destiny, instead of Beverly as he originally believed, Peter convinces Virginia that he can save Abby. Pearly learns that Peter is still alive and with Virginia, and he is surprised to learn from Lucifer that Peter was Beverly's miracle, making him love her so much that he couldn't die. Enraged, Pearly asks to fight Peter as a mortal so he can destroy him for good, and Lucifer grants his request. Pearly and his men arrive at Virginia's apartment, causing Peter and Virginia to flee to the rooftop with Abby. The mysterious winged horse flies them to the Lake of the Coheeries, but Pearly, now mortal, can pursue Peter beyond the Five Boroughs. After Horse dispatches Pearly's men by crashing the ice so that they all drown, Peter and Pearly engage in a fistfight. Peter is losing until a light shines from the heavens and allows Peter to stab Pearly in the neck with the name plate from the boat, "City of Justice." Pearly turns to snow and Peter is able to save Abby on the princess bed after he kisses her forehead. After visiting Beverly's grave one last time, Peter mounts the horse to be carried away to the stars, while the elderly Willa witnesses his ascension.


Listo, an Andalusian stallion that plays "The Horse"


Initially Warner Bros. attempted to sign Martin Scorsese in 2002, but he turned down the chance to direct the movie calling it "unfilmable." Later on Winter's Tale became a "passion project" for director Akiva Goldsman, who was given the go-ahead by Warner Bros. In February 2011 with a budget of $75 million.[7][8] It was reported that the film's budget was dropped to $60 million in February 2012; at the same time Will Smith and Russell Crowe were linked to the project in supporting roles.[9] Benjamin Walker, Tom Hiddleston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Garrett Hedlund auditioned for the role of Peter Lake[10] while Elizabeth Olsen, Bella Heathcote, Gabriella Wilde and Sarah Gadon tested for the role of Beverly Penn.[11] In March 2012 it was reported that Jessica Brown Findlay had been offered the role of Beverly, Colin Farrell was linked to the role of Peter Lake in the following month.[10] William Hurt joined the cast as Beverly's father, Isaac Penn, in August 2012.[12] In September 2012 multiple new cast members were announced, including Matt Bomer, Lucy Griffiths and Eva Marie Saint.[13] The final major addition to the cast was Jennifer Connelly, whose involvement was confirmed in October 2012 shortly before the start of filming.[14] Principal photography began in October 2012 but was delayed due to Hurricane Sandy.[15] Shooting took place at locations across New York City including Grand Central Terminal, Red Hook, Brooklyn, East Village, Manhattan, and Central Park.[16][17][18] Filming was also done at Lyndhurst in Tarrytown, New York.[19] The cinematographer was Caleb Deschanel,[20] who photographed the film with Arri Alexa digital cameras and Panavision C-, E- and G-Series anamorphic lenses.[21]


Winter's Tale premiered in London on February 13, 2014, and was theatrically released on February 14, 2014, in the United States by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film opened poorly at #7, grossing $7.3 million in its first weekend. Winter's Tale grossed just $12.6 million in the United States and $18.2 million abroad for a total of $30.8 million worldwide.[4] Warner Home Video released it on DVD and Blu-ray on June 24, 2014.[citation needed]

Critical responseEdit

On review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 13% based on 151 reviews and an average rating of 3.55/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Winter's Tale tries to retain the grandiose sweep of its source novel, but fails to fill it in with characters worth rooting for or a sensible plot."[22] On another aggregation site, Metacritic, it has a score of 31 out of 100 based on 35 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[23]

In a negative review for, Sheila O'Malley awarded the film one-and-a-half stars, stating: "It lacks visual splendor... It lacks emotional depth. It lacks scope and magic."[24] O'Malley criticized Russell Crowe for "hoping that a facial tic will somehow translate as menacing", finding his first scene with Will Smith to be "incomprehensible".[24] She did, however, praise Colin Farrell's "urgent, heartfelt performance".[24]

In his one-star review for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw was more critical of Farrell, questioning why he gives Peter an Irish accent when "[h]is character has never been to Ireland."[25] Bradshaw concluded his review by suggesting that the film could be made worse only by "releasing a giant, vicious, genetically engineered man-eating badger into the cinema while it's playing."[25]

Reviewing the film for Variety, Justin Chang claimed that writer-producer-director Akiva Goldsman was "out of his depth" but "fortunate in his choice of actors", finding Farrell to be "watchable", Jessica Brown-Findlay to be "luminous and intelligent", and Eva Marie-Saint's first film appearance since Superman Returns to be "welcome".[26] Chang also praised the production design of Naomi Shohan, and the "moody, muted tones" of Caleb Deschanel's cinematography.[26]


The film's poster was nominated for a Golden Trailer award.[27]


The musical score for Winter's Tale was composed by Hans Zimmer and Rupert Gregson-Williams.[20] A soundtrack album was released on February 11, 2014 by WaterTower Music.[28] On February 4, 2014, four tracks were revealed on SoundCloud. "Miracle", by Scottish singer KT Tunstall became the lead single of the soundtrack. The three other tracks were "What's the Best Thing You've Ever Stolen?", "You Don't Quit Me, Boy", and "She Was Like a Bright Light" all composed by Hans Zimmer and Rupert Gregson-Williams.[29]



  1. ^ a b c "Winter's Tale (2014)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "A NEW YORK WINTER'S TALE (12A)". Warner Bros. British Board of Film Classification. February 5, 2014. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  3. ^ FilmL.A. (May 2015). "2014 Feature Film Study" (PDF). FilmL.A. Feature Film Study. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Winter's Tale". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
  5. ^ "Full cast and crew for Winter's Tale". Internet Movie Database. January 30, 2013. Retrieved February 22, 2020.
  6. ^ "Full cast and crew for Winter's Tale". Internet Movie Database. January 30, 2013. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
  7. ^ "Akiva Goldsman Gets Green Light On 'Winter's Tale' At Warner Bros". Deadline Hollywood. February 1, 2011. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  8. ^ Kit, Borys (April 11, 2011). "Casting Couch: Who's Testing for Directors Roland Emmerich, Akiva Goldsman and 'Die Hard 5' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  9. ^ "Russell Crowe and Will Smith Save Akiva Goldsman's Directing Debut, Winter's Tale". February 1, 2012. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  10. ^ a b "Colin Farrell Offered Lead In Akiva Goldsman's 'Winter's Tale' Opposite 'Downton Abbey' Star Jessica Brown-Findlay". IndieWire. April 26, 2012. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  11. ^ "Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Hiddleston Up For Akiva Goldsman's Winter's Tale". Cinema Blend. November 7, 2011. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  12. ^ Fleming, Mike (August 1, 2012). "William Hurt Joins Akiva Goldsman's 'Winter's Tale'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  13. ^ Fleming, Mike (September 21, 2012). "Akiva Goldsman's 'Winter's Tale' Sets Matt Bomer, Lucy Griffiths, Eva Marie Saint". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  14. ^ Fleming, Mike (October 11, 2012). "Jennifer Connelly Joining Akiva Goldsman's 'Winter's Tale'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  15. ^ Verrier, Richard; Blake, Meredith (October 29, 2012). "Hurricane Sandy shuts down film and TV production on East Coast". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  16. ^ "Crowe 'Tale' of B'klyn woe". New York Post. November 27, 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  17. ^ "'Winter's Tale' filming around Cooper Square; Russell Crowe Alert". EV Grieve. December 2, 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  18. ^ "Adam Levine soaks up the L.A. sun while Jennifer Connelly freezes in New York". EV Grieve. January 16, 2013. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  19. ^ "Hollywood Snow Falls on Lyndhurst". Rye Patch. January 29, 2013. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  20. ^ a b "Below-the-Line Impact Report 2012". Variety. July 30, 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  21. ^ "Celebrate Valentine's Day with 'Winter's Tale'". Panavision. Retrieved February 21, 2014.
  22. ^ "Winter's Tale (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 4, 2014.
  23. ^ "Winter's Tale". Metacritic. Retrieved February 21, 2014.
  24. ^ a b c O'Malley, Sheila. "Winter's Tale movie review & film summary (2014) | Roger Ebert". Retrieved April 16, 2020.
  25. ^ a b Bradshaw, Peter (February 20, 2014). "A New York Winter's Tale – review". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
  26. ^ a b Chang, Justin (February 12, 2014). "Film Review: 'Winter's Tale'". Variety. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
  27. ^ Wolfe, Jennifer (May 7, 2014). "Golden Trailer Award Nominees Announced". Animation World Network. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
  28. ^ "WaterTower Music to Release Hans Zimmer's and Rupert Gregson-Williams' 'Winter's Tale' Score". Film Music Reporter. December 17, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2013.
  29. ^ "Get Ready for Romance With Four Exclusive Tracks From the 'Winter's Tale' Soundtrack". Moviefone. February 4, 2014. Retrieved February 4, 2014.

External linksEdit