September Swashbucklers: The Princess Bride

Liz:

10 Reasons to Like The Princess Bride

  1. “As you wish” (especially when said as tumbling down hill)
  2. “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
  3. “Inconceivable.”
  4. “Rodents of unusual size? I don’t think they exist.”
  5. “He’s only mostly dead.”
  6. “True love”
  7. Swordplay left handed and then right handed.
  8. Both drinks had poison
  9. Names like Buttercup, the Dread Pirate Roberts, Miracle Max, and Prince Humperdinck
  10. A grandfather reading to his sick grandson, but skipping the kissing scenes at grandson’s request

Aside from being remarkably quotable, The Princess Bride has likeable and memorable characters (like Fezzik) and just memorable characters (like Vizzini), a great swashbuckling scene, a sweet giant, a fairy tale feel, and a touching frame story. To my surprise, it’s actually based on the 1973 fantasy novel of the same name by William Goldman, who wrote the screenplay for the movie. I have the book, though I’ve never read it. The book’s cover announces it is an abridgement (though its size belies that) of a work by S. Morgenstern. Don’t be fooled: there’s no such unabridged book or such an author. That’s just part of the fun.

What do you like about The Princess Bride? Have you read the book?

Jaz: Last month a friend confessed that she’d never seen The Princess Bride. “Inconceivable!” I thought. Hasn’t everyone watched this film?

Sadly, no. And for those who haven’t, I have this to say: you must watch this film at least once in your life. Add it to your bucket list (or whatever else you call it). For my part, I’ve seen it one too many times – and still the “game of wits” scene never fails to make me laugh. The Princess Bride has everything one could wish for in a fairy-tale swashbuckler: corny, dominating theme music, quirky loveable characters, cheesy special effects, over-the-top acting, improbable situations, and of course, plenty of swashbuckling swashbucklingness.

As I recall, the film was – overall – pretty faithful to the book. It omitted Prince Humperdinck’s former matrimonial interest, a woman obsessed with hats, and tweaked the ending to make it more palatable to American audiences (in the book the story ends with Inigo’s life in peril as they are pursued by Humperdinck’s men). Sorry, spoiler. You know me.

Another thing I like about The Princess Bride is how it revolves around a grandfather, the narrator, reading aloud to his young grandson who’s in bed with a cold. Every so often the boy interrupts when the story gets mushy: “They’re kissing again. Do we have to read the kissing parts?” and, “Is this a kissing book?”

Well, is it a kissing film? It’s a little bit of that, and so much more. But you’ll have to find out the rest for yourself.

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