10. Eric Rohmer’s A Tale of Winter (1992)
As the title suggests, Eric Rohmer’s A Tale of Winter is not, strictly speaking, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s late, great play (it is probably the greatest of Shakespeare’s late plays, or romances), The Winter’s Tale. Rather, it is a response to the play, a celebration of it and ultimately a reimagining. In this way, it is authentically Shakespearean.
A Tale of Winter (Conte d’hiver) was the second instalment of Rohmer’s final great cycle of films, “Tales of the Four Seasons”, which he made throughout the 1990s and with which he effectively ended his illustrious career. It is the amazing tale of a young woman, Félicie, who meets and falls in love with a young man called Charles on her holiday. (So many of Rohmer’s great films, such as The Green Ray (Le Rayon Vert) are about holidays: he understood, as Shakespeare himself did, that holidays are genuinely ‘holy days’, when we are free to escape routine and become our true selves.) However, having apparently made a note of his address, she finds that she has actually got it wrong and is unable to find him again. (This may seem implausible to younger readers, who have all manner of electronic means of keeping in contact, and indeed of tracking each other down, but it was eminently possible in the pre-internet age.) Consequently, she loses touch with him, with only their child to remind her of her lost love.
Then, she is saved by Shakespeare – literally. When she sees a performance of The Winter’s Tale, and in particular the scene in which the seemingly dead Hermione, who had been “killed” by her husband Leontes’s jealousy, is somehow magically brought back to life, she is so moved that she, too, miraculously comes back to life and sets out to find Charles again.