Monday, September 20, 2010
Revisiting THE PRINCESS BRIDE on the big screen...
The Princess Bride is a classic. That's what I've read, it's what I've heard through the fireswamp vine, and it's what I believe whole-heartedly. But is a twenty-three year old movie allowed to be a classic? Or does it need more time to steep in our pop culture psyche? Maybe on its silver anniversary it'll be honored with not only being a bona fide, respected classic, but one that will stand the test of time long after most of the original fans are gone. I know this because the film to this day, is still quoted almost everywhere, especially amongst my group of friends: "Have fun storming the castle", "What I wouldn't give for a holocaust cloak", "I only dog paddle", "Humperdink! Humperdink! Humperdink! "Inconceivable!" "My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die", and of course "As you wish."
I love The Princess Bride. I've loved it ever since I rented it on VHS. I never got the chance to see it on the big screen when it came out in 1987, not sure why I didn't go to the cinema. I think I was more interested in Corey Haim movies at that time. And what a mistake that had been! I've been rewatching this film countless times over the years and I tend to always catch something new about it. This time around, I finally noticed the "empire strikes back" glass behind the grandson's (Fred Savage looking adorable) bed.
This year at The Toronto International Film Festival, they had a free screening of it. On the big screen. In its original film format. And it showed. The film was choppy and recut and had glitches throughout, causing some scenes to end a tad earlier. Lucky for me, I know all the scenes and was aware of what was missed. Despite the film's age and I'm sure countless viewings over the years, it was a wonderful experience seeing it on the big screen for the first time. I was giddy with excitement! I got our tickets 2 hours in advance and patiently waited for it to start. And once it did, I was transported back in time. My heart filling with nostalgia. I was eager to see it on a large format scale because a television screen just sometimes isn't the same. I fell in love with the movie all over again. The attention to detail is just brilliant. Everything looked and felt like it was in a magical world and time. Princess Buttercup, played by the luminous Robin Wright, was a delight to watch. Her costumes took on a whole new look for me. I've always been a secret fan of wanting to dress like a princess, and no princess throughout cinematic history has a better wardrobe then Princess Buttercup (suck it, Anne Hathaway!) Her pale blue gown seen in two scenes was once my childhood dream wedding dress. My tastes have since changed. I'm also not looking for a Westley (Cary Elwes) type anymore. Well, for the most part I'm not. Sigh. Then again the course of true love never runs smooth.
The audience were a bunch of fans who were also eager to see the film. We laughed, we clapped, and I heard a few people whispering lines (me included). The final battle between Inigo Montoya and Count Rugen (Mandy Patinkin and Christopher Guest) was met with applause and cheers. I got goosebumps. (am showing my mega nerd colours now). And I am not afraid to admit that at the end when the grandfather (Peter Falk), after spending the day with his grandson, reading him the story of The Princess Bride by (the fictional) S. Morgenstern, says to him, "as you wish" that I got a little teary eyed. There is so much subtext and character revelation in that one line delivery that it's pretty much one of the most perfect endings to any film I've ever seen.
William Goldman wrote the original book (I reccomend reading it and comparing the two. I'm partial to the film version, because Princes Buttercup is very annoying in the book) and adapted it into the screenplay. He said it took years to make it to the screen. Goldman is a genius, especially in the screenwriting world. I am forever grateful that his imagination and talent created such a rich world and that he allowed us a chance to live inside that world for a while.
This is a film that every screenwriting, author, filmmaker needs to watch, and a script that needs to be read and studied. This film captures the imagination. It can't be duplicated, but it can be honored by staying true to its message. Love. Movies are meant to be an escape, but The Princess Bride is more than an escape. It's a transformation.
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.