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