Hello Dear Reader
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”