Twenty-five years of my life

It’s the twenty-fifth anniversary of The Princess Bride (the film; the book had its anniversary a while ago). I, of course, celebrated by watching it again.

I had things I needed to do tonight, and I figured I could do them while the movie was on. More fool me: it’s been a while since I sat down and watched it, and I quickly realized I really just had to give it my full attention — mouthing, as I usually do, all the quotable lines* as they were said.

I can’t pick my favorite book, or my favorite song, or my favorite food. But I can pick my favorite movie. The Princess Bride is the reason I studied fencing; it’s also the reason I studied Spanish. (Can you tell which character I imprinted on?) I don’t know if it’s the first movie I saw in a theater, but it’s the first one I remember seeing. It’s one of the few fantasies from the ’80s that I would say is genuinely good, instead of just lovably cheesy.

It is, now that I watch it with a professional eye, a fantastic example of good storytelling. I could go on for a good half-hour at least about all the intelligent decisions Goldman made with the script, the elegance of the structure, all the places where the dialogue leads you perfectly along its path. It strikes that beautiful balance between comedy and drama, where the laughter makes the occasional punch land all that much harder. (Inigo’s storyline as a whole — which gained extra impact when I found out about his father dying of cancer, and Patinkin channeling his grief from that into the final confrontation with Count Rugen.) There are almost no wasted lines in this film, no random chatter to fill the time. Every bit pulls its weight.

I don’t know anymore how many times I’ve seen it. I used to keep count; I started when I could still remember all the occasions, and I kept a record on our old VHS box — the one taped off TV, eventually replaced by an official copy, eventually replaced by a DVD, eventually replaced by the Dread Pirate edition that has d_aulnoy in one of the special features. But somewhere along the line, I lost my record of the count. The last time I was sure of it, it was in the low 60s.

There is no movie in the world I love as much. They’ll never see these lines, but to William Goldman, Rob Reiner, Mandy Patinkin, Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Andre the Giant, Wallace Shawn, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Fred Savage, Peter Falk, Carol Kane, Billy Crystal, Bob Anderson, and all the other cast and crew of this marvelous film: thank you.

*Approximately seventy-five percent of the script

0 Responses to “Twenty-five years of my life”

  1. squishymeister

    Now I also feel the need to give in another watch! I still remember watching it in a lecture hall at IU for your bachelorette party 🙂

    • Marie Brennan

      You know, I’m tempted to fiat that as the seventy-fifth time I watched it (which is probably an undercount) and keep going from there.

      Which would make this . . . the seventy-seventh, I believe.

  2. la_marquise_de_

    I once translated the famous swordfight scene into Latin.
    It’s a fine, fine movie.

    • Marie Brennan

      . . . okay, I have to ask.


      • la_marquise_de_

        It was part of a silly game at an sf con. The marquis, our friend S and I were the ‘EU film dubbing unit’, who had declared that henceforth all films must be dubbed into Latin, across the EU, as it was the closest thing to a common European language. We did Princess Bride, Star Wars, the Jackie Chan film Dragons Forever and a couple of others.

        • Marie Brennan

          Ahhh, gotcha.

          The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s silent film of Call of Cthulhu has title cards in something like eighteen languages, including, if memory serves, not only Latin but Euskara (Basque).

  3. mrissa

    The thing about TPB is that there are very few movies that fill me up with happiness quite so much. The other is Galaxy Quest. I try not to re-watch them too often because I’m afraid the effect will disappear if I do, but it can’t be with familiarity that it will disappear, because seriously, I know the whole script too. It is so very lovable.

    • Marie Brennan

      It really, really is. I think the only bit that isn’t happy-making for me is the fight with the R.O.U.S., which I remember scared the crap out of me as a kid and is still kind of unpleasant now.

      (Not “unpleasant” in a bad, “this shouldn’t be in the story” kind of way. But I still cringe a bit.)

  4. wldhrsjen3

    Yes. Ohhhhhh yes. I also have a deep and abiding love for this movie. And now that my kids have seen and loved it, too, one of my greatest joys is hearing them quote lines to each other that my sister and I used to toss back and forth when we were younger. 😀

  5. scribble_myname

    One of the best ten movies of all time. :sniffs: Amen to this all.

    • Marie Brennan

      I’m curious what your other nine are.

      • scribble_myname

        Eclectic. In no particular order:

        • The Secret Garden (1993)
        • The Gospel of John
        • Hoosiers
        • While You Were Sleeping
        • The Princess Bride

        …and the rest I’m still deliberating, and occasionally editing to reflect new awesome splendor. In my opinion, these movies are perfect.

        • Marie Brennan

          Would you believe I’ve only seen one of those? (The Secret Garden, but that’s a case where I had such a firm notion of it in my own head from the book that the movie didn’t quite hook me.)

          • scribble_myname

            I lucked out. I only read the book after, but I have so had books spoil movies for me.

            But I have temporarily finalized four more. I was really vacillating on the last one, but finally decided, nope, it is perfection. To me.

            • Remember the Titans
            • The Sound of Music
            • The Ten Commandments
            • The Perfect Game

            I’m holding the last for my wild card. :grins:

          • Marie Brennan

            I watched The Sound of Music a bazillion times as a kid, but that’s because it’s one of the few movies we had on VHS (taped off TV, actually). I’ve thought for a while that it would be interesting to revisit it now, decades later.

  6. ckd

    I consider it the most quotable movie ever.

    AFAICT, every speaking character except the mom has at least one eminently quotable line.

    • Marie Brennan

      Hmmmm — that’s interesting! I’d put the mom and the Assistant Brute (or however he gets credited) as on par with one another . . . but even then, they both have an exchange that’s moderately quotable, so long as you include the person they’re talking to. (In the case of the mom, the exchange about cheek-pinching.) Not brilliant, compared to the rest of the movie — but other movies sometimes don’t even rise that high.

  7. aliseadae

    It is an excellent movie. Just got my college roommate to watch it for the first time when she visited.

    • Marie Brennan

      I managed to strong-arm a college friend of mine into finally watching it our senior year, and I have to say, getting to be there when somebody experiences it for the first time is AWESOME.

  8. cofax7

    I was lucky enough to have read TPB the novel long before the movie came out. And to see the movie in a special sneak preview several weeks in advance of its opening.

    What I remember most clearly is walking out of the theater and announcing that that was the single best adaptation of book-to-movie ever.

    … I still rather believe that. The movie is different than the book: less satirical, less meta, less dark. But it is still magnificent, and it does things that the book can’t, with its casting and staging; the sword fight, for one. So marvelous.

    • Marie Brennan

      I didn’t read the book until a couple of years after the movie, and I was young enough that I actually thought the unabridged version was out there somewhere.

      It was a great reassurance to me when I learned I’m not the only one who fell for it. 🙂

      I do like the book, too, though my favorite parts are the ones that didn’t make it into the movie — then I don’t have to compare. Princess Noreena and the hats, the full-on backstory for Fezzik and especially Inigo, etc.

    • marycatelli

      It’s the only case where I think the movie turned out better than the book.

  9. juushika


    Except when I watch it, I quote the entire script, which is sort of a given for me with the movies I’ve memorized—and Princess Bride is one of the most worthy on that list.

    • Marie Brennan

      Well, y’know. I stopped sometimes to take a sip of water or whatever. 🙂

      But yeah, I pretty much recite the entire thing. (In fact, I once recited the entire movie from memory, during a long drive when somebody challenged me to do it.)

  10. desperance

    It’s one of the few fantasies from the ’80s that I would say is genuinely good, instead of just lovably cheesy.

    This, and Ladyhawke. What else? (For “few”, you need at least three.)

    • Marie Brennan

      To be honest, that phrasing has more to do with me not wanting to offend anybody by implicitly slanging their favorites. 🙂 I do like Ladyhawke, and would probably like it without reservation if I could just get rid of the damned electric guitar riffs. Other people would probably make an argument for The Dark Crystal.

      • desperance

        Heh. Everybody complains about the soundtrack; either I have honestly never noticed it, or else I have managed to delete it from my memory every time. I love the movie without reservation; I saw it first at a friend’s house, way back when we were young grown-ups, and everyone else was gossiping and passing wine and fetching snacks the way we did and I was all hunched up and focused and hissing at them to be quiet, and afterwards Adam said “You were working hard” and it hadn’t occurred to me but actually I was, because Ladyhawke is all about the storytelling. Which is my thing, really. So I’ve probably just never noticed the music.

  11. bookblather

    It’s an amazing, beautiful movie, and it always makes me tear up.

    Have you seen this? Reunion photoshoot.

Comments are closed.