I feel like this post may cover some obvious ground for a lot of my readers, but after learning that my wife has never seen the original Star Wars trilogy all the way through, I feel like I can’t leave anything up to chance any more. As most of you know, back in the 1980s a little movie called The Princess Bride was released. It was written by one of the most talented writers to ever pen a screen play; William Goldman. The movie will always remain one of my absolute favorite films, regardless of it’s superficial flaws. What I fear is that the movie has reached the level that many before it’s time have reached. It’s one of those films that everyone can quote and acknowledge how great it is, despite a massive decrease in the amount of people that have actually watched it. For example; I knew quotes from The Godfather years before I actually watched the movie. FilmDrunk actually reported the results of a survey of the top 10 films that people lied about watching.
The Princess Bride has been elevated to a legendary status in pop culture. One need merely don a faux Spanish accent and quote the unforgettable line of vengeance uttered by Inigo Montoya in order to gain a grin of familiarity from a total stranger. The impact that the story of Westley and Buttercup has had on our culture is vast. Virtual badges can be seen throughout internet social sites, T-shirts with quotations from the movie are sold in novelty stores, and a devout following has been attracted to the high spirited adventure tale.
Released in 1987, The Princess Bride was, on the surface, nothing new. The 1980s was notable for a good number of Fantasy flicks, such as The Never Ending Story, Labyrinth, and Ridley Scott’s Legend. Despite all these films displaying far more stunning visual effects for the time, William Goldman’s story about True love and High adventure remains the most notable. Taking the helm to direct the film was Rob Reiner, who helped bring the beloved book by William Goldman to the big screen, and into the hearts of generations to come. It wasn’t a grand spectacle, visually speaking, but what it was, was one of the best written Fantasy stories ever put to screen. Goldman tells a story that everyone loves. True love conquers all. Never backing away from the fact that love is never easy, he tugs at the heartstrings of all his viewers. The enduring characters that Goldman creates let us know exactly what side we want to win. The viewer is led on a journey of emotions ranging from agony, to joy, hate, to love, all the while keeping a light tone without compromising the drama at all.
The recognition that The Princess Bride received after it’s release continues to grow. Both critics and audiences continue to love it. In a 2000 edition of it’s magazine, “Total Film” magazine named The Princess Bride the 38th greatest comedy film of all time. In A similar report in 2006, “The Writers Guild of America” selected the screenplay as number 84 of all time. But the reason for the enduring tale is not in the critical recognition, it rests in the fans. The devout following continues to grow.
Goldman was no stranger to the writing game when he penned The Princess Bride, at this time he was well known for many screen plays and novels, the most notable being Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, however none come so close to the hearts of it’s viewers as The Princess Bride, which became, and remains a high standard to measure up against in the film industry. Seriously, I know this is true in most cases, but the book is actually better than the movie simply because Goldman isn’t limited by an hour and a half run time. We’re given hilarious and heart wrenching views into the pasts of every character and he writes with a sharp wit that could never be fully translated to the screen.
True Love conquers all…Even if it takes a while. This is not only the claim of the film, but it is a view that is expected from a movie by most of the population. How this holds up to actual beliefs is hard to tell, but the idea of love being the strongest bond on earth is not a new idea. The claim is warranted through society and pop culture, this is what people want to believe, as is evident in movies, music and television. Goldman used a fairly simplistic and common idea, and elaborated around it. We see Goldman’s genius shine through by mixing fantasy, classic love story structure, and comedy all the while eloquently giving millions of viewers a simple, recognized idea in a complex and thoroughly enjoyable, relatable, and entertaining shell that is The Princess Bride.
If you happen to be in the Bellingham WA area on August 24th 2013 you can watch the The Princess Bride outdoors on a big screen with hundreds of other fans thanks to the Fairhaven Outdoor Cinema, a series of events that happen throughout the summer. There is a fantastic lineup of films this summer, and The Princess Bride is just one of them.