Tag Archives: films

Film Treat – The Princess Bride

Hello Dear Reader

Film Treat

Action! Adventure! Romance! Talking to a dear friend of mine, I discovered we both liked certain films. With great help, I decided to review a few favourite films. Given my long list, it might surprise people which ones I picked.

My first choice is the film, The Princess Bride. First published in 1973, this book covered fairy tales, fantasy, romance, adventure, romantic love, comedy, heroes, villains and yes the odd kiss. Written by William Goldman, this version is the abridged one, just the good parts according to the author. It was later turned into a film, also penned by Goldman, to become a classics that works for all.

The Princess Bride

The story is timeless one, hero and heroine, battle various odds and encounters, before finally finding happiness. It is based on a parody of Eastern European nobility centuries ago. Goldman manages to weave just about the right amount of everything in the book that translates so well on-screen.

 

The film opens with a kindly grandfather visiting his sick bedridden grandson intend on ‘cheering’ him up. The grandfather is played by none other than Colombo himself Peter Falk and his grandson, played by Fred Savage. The book, so we are told, has been passed down the generations of the family and does not have the best of starts. The grandson is reluctant at first, given the title, hoping for something with more action and certainly no kissing. However, the grandfather won’t take no for an answer and proceeds to tell the story. In the book, we join midway through with flashbacks. In the film, the Grandfather narrates with interjections from the Grandson.

It centers around two main characters, a woman called Buttercup and a farm hand called Westley. In true romantic style, Westley falls for Buttercup, responding to her every command replying “As you wish”. It is his way of saying “I love you”. Trouble appears, as Prince Humperdinck of Florian demands, to take Buttercup as his bride.

Buttercup laments the death of Westley, supposedly killed by Dread Pirate Roberts while at sea. To complicate matters further, Buttercup is kidnapped by a group of bandits, Vizzini, Fezzik (a giant) and the anti-hero turned hero, turned good guy, Inigo Montoya. They are chased by Dread Pirate Roberts, who in turn is chased by Humperdinck with his sidekick Count Tyrone Ruggen. What more could there be! Well, a lot more as this story moves effortlessly through action, comedy, and romance.

Be warned, of spoilers.

There are stories within stories, as everything unfolds revealing revenge for a death, finding of true love and a resurrection pill. Not in that order, mine you. The film contains numerous quoted lines with possible one of my top five. It is delightfully delivered each time, never overplayed, never needing to be pushed, just spoken, “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die”. Just reading that line makes me and many others smile. Goldman did not just concentrate on the characters, they alone are priceless, but he made sure the background shone throughout. Adeptly named places add to the humour, the Pit of Despair where a machine appears to suck the life from one of our heroes. Is all lost? Of course not! Well, for a time our hero is only mostly dead. However, in fantasy, anything can happen so long as you have the Resurrection Pill and Miracle Max. Hero restored, castle to storm and heroine to save.

It is just perfect.

The cast includes a number of well-known actors and actresses. The list is quite long and some well-known faces in disguise like that of Billy Crystal who plays Miracle Max. There are also roles for Mel Smith and Peter Cook who plays a priest with a Monty Python-like lisp. I am sure this influenced Rowen Rowan_Atkinson in Four Weddings and a Funeral. However, the actor who steals the film for me is Mandy Patinkin. As Inigo Montoya, he embodies what this adventure is about. There is a point where you think it might all be over. Fezzik (a giant played by Andre the Giant) saves the day making Montoya see that his quest for revenge is not lost. The final action sequences are pure gold, combining fencing, comedy, and romance.

A movie is the sum of its parts. Actors alone can’t always carry the plot. The writing has to be delivered believable otherwise the films lacks quality and pace. Along with an award-winning soundtrack by Mark Knopfler (he of Dire Straits a favourite band of mine), the component parts do become complete.

The Princess Bride is a true family film, to watch and just smile. If I have to give it a score, well it’s 5 out 5.

Once again, many thanks to my friend who put me straight on their favourite film.

Tagline (There is only one line to use) “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die”

Picture this

Hello Dear Reader

I struggled this week to think clearly what to write about, a number of events have happened. Sometimes, there is a desire to want to write everything, warts and all. A certain sense often kicks in, call it common or fear or whatever, it changes what you want to discuss.

Having been around the interweb long enough to know that the old saying ‘walls have ears’ is true, so I decided to concentrate on a couple of things. One, which has already generated interest, was the new Bond trailer for the fourth coming film ‘Spectre’. There is a dark foreboding element to this trailer, gone are in the light-hearted in jokes. These last two Bond movies are much more in keeping with the novels in my view. They may well be influenced by other spy thrillers and franchises, but Bond is always Bond. One noticeable element of the trailer was the use of old theme music. It just added to the atmosphere. Of course, we now wait for the song.

There is one never-ending issue with films that run for such a time. Bond is 50 in film years. If he was going now he would be approaching his 70s. At some point there will be a call for a new Bond but who? Here, I have an issue. According to the books, the author, the man who created the character, Bond is remarked to resemble the American singer-songwriter Hoagy Carmichael (below), except with a “cruel mouth” and a “coldness in the eyes”.  There are various descriptions of him in different books. Some people wish to see the character played by someone who is not what the author wrote. So who is right? For me, it is the author, set it in stone not to be changed. He can’t be female, he can’t be a 16 year old boy, he can’t be …

I don’t care what others say, it’s the author who made the character. The same goes for another beloved character, Doctor Who. Again this character has been set out 50 years or more as male. The Doctor or Professor as Ace often called him, is another icon who for me can’t be changed from male to female. Again, I don’t care what the current show runner wants or feels is right for him. He has no say in changing that fundamental element of the show. This is not about disliking female Timelords, it is about being true to what has already been created.

Some people just want change because they want to shake up the universe. Some shows can handle change and very well. I don’t often mention certain shows, however, soaps such as Eastenders and Coronation Street change their characters with ease. But they themselves never (and I don’t know this since I don’t watch them) change a man to woman or pick a new actor to play the same role. Now I know that is not always true as child characters do change but that is just growing up.

Why call this blog ‘Picture this’, because I want to make sure the right picture remains, for at least two well-known characters.

Tagline: “Bond is Bond, Who won’t change no matter what”

Memories

Hello Dear Reader,

In the past few days there has been the sad loss of a number of well-known people. Three people in particular have made me remember why we keep memories. Christopher Lee, an actor whose career spanned many different realms appeared in hundreds of films and television series. For me three notable roles com to mind; Henry Baskerville in The Hound of the Baskervilles with Peter Cushing, Space:1999 and Saruman in Lord of the Rings. Each role very different, each one memorable for how Christopher Lee played the roles. He never  played a role short, he was a powerful figure each time he stepped forward. These three roles are ones I can enjoy again and again, in particular Hound of the Baskervilles. Not playing the lead role he still makes the movie. Maybe that was due to his friendship with Peter Cushing. The two starred in numerous films, most notably Hammer films normally horror. The second role for me was in series one of Space:1999, a Gerry Anderson production which pushed the boundaries of television sci-fi. Although the role was as a guest, he once more just captured the scenes. He was calm and just a huge presence.  The last role in his 80 and 90s was in one of the most recent successful franchise, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Again he was one of a numerous cast but he knew not only the role but the books in-depth. There are few that just have that presence that Sir Christopher Lee had. We can be grateful for those memories.

The second person, was James Honer the composer of such films as Titanic and Avatar. Those are not the films I thought of when I heard of his untimely death. The films for me that came to mind were Star Trek:The Wrath of Khan and the Rocketeer. Both of these soundtracks I can listen to with ease and remember the movies through the music. There is one scene, the music is called; ‘Enterprise Clears Moorings’. I listened to that piece when I heard the news. It just felt right for me and I could remember just how well James Horner’s music fitted the film. Again there are memories we can enjoy.

The last person was something of a British icon, the first English Avenger, Patrick Macnee. The character, John Steed,  first appeared on television back in 1961 but not as he was to become known. It took almost the first series before John Steed became established as the main character. He was a mysterious person, a secret agent but not like James Bond who also appeared around the same time. This was a very gentlemanly secret agent, one who used wit and wisdom before restoring to his umbrella or bowler hat. It was different, well written, unique and made Patrick Macnee famous. His character took on villains with a bowler hat, smart suit and umbrella. There was also a curious pop song, Kinky Boots with one of his female co-stars Honor Blackman. It became a hit due to various radio shows and that odd element of being wrong yet right.

These three people, while being separate in many ways have all added something to my own memories and enhanced my life. Should we just mourn the loss or always do our best to remember? For me I can listen to James Honer, watch Christopher Lee and Patrick Macnee.

Tagline: ‘Music ready. Bowler hat ready. Book ready.’