Earlier this week the cast of The Princess Bride got together at the New York Film Festival to celebrate 25 years since the release of this classic cult film. How does this make me feel? Old. No seriously, it does. But it also makes me feel very very happy, because this film has nothing but happy memories for me.
I am not sure when I first saw it or who introduced me to it (if it was you – thank you!!!), but since my early teens I must have watched it almost a hundred times. It is by far the most watched DVD in my collection, and the only one where I can recite all the dialogue verbatim (as several people can attest to I am sure). I am not the only one either. I remember at a friend’s birthday at high school a whole group of us watched it in the wee hours of the morning and I definitely wasn’t the only one reciting the lines (yes, I am talking about you Sarah, Cat, Char, Ant, Kath and Nic!).
And what lines they are. Arguably one of the funniest and best scripts of any film ever (yes, I see you serious film buffs shaking your heads but I challenge you to prove me wrong!). From the brilliant ‘that word, I do not think it means what you think it means’, to Peter Cook’s hilarious lisping ‘mawaige’ proclaimation, to ‘you seem a decent man, I hate to kill you’ ‘ you seem a decent man, I hate to die’ – words are chosen with care and delivered with panache. (If you want to read even more choice lines that weren’t in the movie – I heartily recommend William Goldman’s novel (on which the film was based)).
If I manage to create a character as memorable as ANY of the core ones in The Princess Bride, I will be happy with my legacy. Both the good guys – Farmboy Westley, Inigo Montoya and giant Fezzik – and the bad guys – Vizzini, Prince Humperdink and the Six Fingered Man/Count Rugen – are simply delightful to watch in action. They manage to be both stereotypical heroes/villains while also subverting those stereotypes at the same time. And supporting turns by comedic geniuses Billy Crystal, Carol Kane and Mel Smith ensure there is never a dull moment. If there is any criticism to be levelled at The Princess Bride, it would be at the rather bland Princess Buttercup, who could have done with a touch more backbone and gumption to create a more entertaining female lead.
But, overall, this is nothing. At the end of the day, when I need a pick me up, a guaranteed laugh, or a movie recommendation for anyone, The Princess Bride will always be my go to. As Peter Falk says in the brilliantly dated opening and end scenes with Fred Savage (yes, that kid from The Wonder Years), it has everything: ‘fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…’. It is a movie for all the family that is impossible not to enjoy on some level at least. And in the meantime, it is my fervent hope that one day on the most excellent Homeland Saul (Mandy Patinkin) will get to say ‘you killed my father, prepare to die’ 😉