Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Tuesday Review: The Princess Bride
It is with some regret and sadness and a little bit of annoyance that I must admit that I am rather disappointed with the book The Princess Brides: S. Morgenstern's classic tale of true love and high adventure: the good bits version. I found the writing flat and in the bits in which William Goldman interrupts the story to talk about the bits of Morgenstern's tale that he is skipping, rather annoying and preachy. Peter Falk you ain't.
I realize that this disappointment comes mostly from spending the last two decades watching the sublime movie based on the book and in some cases, speaking the dialogue along with the movie. And in some way it is the flatness of the book, of the characters that lend it so well to become a movie. The actors imbue the characters with...well, character. Cary "As you wish Westley" Elwes is at his slightly sardonic, slightly smirky best. Robin Wright is perfect as Buttercup, so much so that I did not realize that the actress had ever been in anything else. As for the other actors...well, Andre the Giant IS Fezzik, and Mandy Patinkin is Inigo (well, accept when he's being Che or when he's being Rube). The Princess Bride, the movie, reached a level of tongue-in-cheek perfection (Inconceivable!) that Spaceballs only dreamed of obtaining.
Not so much the book. Yes, I know it's a classic. Yes, I know it's part of the list of 50 books that every teen should read. (And, honestly, maybe that's the problem...I'm definitely not a teen, but still...I can read Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series til world's end, and that's on the same list!)
But, ultimately, reading the book left me with the same feeling that I had while reading Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code (and, yes, I can admit that Princess is galaxies far better than anything Dan Brown could ever hope to write): I felt like the book was the great idea for a movie, and that when William Goldman wrote the screenplay for the movie, he finally got it right.