Thursday, May 03, 2012

Classic Movie: The Princess Bride

I've seen The Princess Bride a million times, it's one of my favorite movies. But a few weeks ago, a local theater was showing it on the big screen as part of a matinee program that they do. I was excited to get to go and watch it, because I haven't sat down to enjoy it in ages.

I expected to enjoy the movie, because I know it's a good movie. But I just gained this completely new level of appreciation for it. It's such a tightly woven script, featuring so much amazing talent. While parts of the film are a little bit dated (the top of the Cliffs of Insanity is clearly a styrofoam set and the ROUSs are more cute than menacing) for the most part it holds up to a more modern audience.

It's been 25 years since the film was released, but the themes are still relevant and the characters still enjoyable.

The real star of The Princess Bride in my opinion is writer William Goldman. He was already an established screenwriter when he published the original book, and it's no surprise that he adapted the screenplay himself. Normally, I'm not a big advocate for writers adapting their own works. I think it's a bad choice, because usually novelists are not screenwriters, and they're also too close to the material.

But Goldman knew what he was doing and he will always be the exception to my rule. He kept the heart and tone of his novel so perfectly that they're sometimes nearly indistinguishable. The screenplay is as much fun to read as the novel is. And he came up with a way to preserve the crazy plot device about it being a story that is read aloud.

Of course, director Rob Reiner deserves quite a lot of credit too. And every single actor who crosses the screen. I think this film will go down in history as one of the best ensemble casts of our age. I could go on about them for ages, because there isn't a single one who has any moment where I don't completely believe in their character and their performance. Even when I think about the process of filming the movie, I can't picture them out of character and hanging around on the set. They become their characters so well that I almost just picture that these people participated in a movie about themselves.

I don't know what type of print the theater was projecting, but it was so high quality. I spotted things in the background that I had never seen before, and even if the film doesn't have the slick cinematographer of modern movies, it is beautiful.

I can't imagine there are people who haven't seen The Princess Bride, but if you haven't you should. I don't even care if it's not typically your type of movie, there's something in it for nearly every type of audience. If you ahve seen it, you should watch it again sometime soon. It's just as good as you remember.