When was the last time you watched a movie from your childhood and thought, “Damn, this is inappropriate for children!”? For me, it seems to happen a lot. I think it’s an 80s thing. I can’t tell if today’s children are too sheltered and coddled, or my generation just saw a lot of shit we really weren’t supposed too. When it came to fantasy films, the imaginations of writers and filmmakers was the stuff of nightmares and lies. ‘The Never Ending Story’ actually ends. Government officers heavily breathing in hazmat suits is not a warm and fuzzy image. But amongst the fear-inducing Jim Henson puppets, terrifying 80s synthesiser music and David Bowie’s hair, there was a fantasy film that shone brighter than the rest and didn’t make us crap our pants. It warranted repeat viewings, is infinitely quotable, and after 30 years the world is still subject to sold-out screenings, cosplay fanatics, and poor Mandy Patinkin, despite his laundry list of accomplishments, can’t walk down the street without someone repeating that line straight to his face.
In 1987 a princess, a swordsman, a man in black and a giant walked into a bar. No wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. In 1973, two-time Academy Award winning screenwriter, playwright and author William Goldman wrote a novel for his two daughters - ‘The Princess Bride’. It took almost 15 years for his work to be adapted to film despite many previous efforts. In the meantime Goldman wrote some of the greatest screenplays Hollywood has ever been privy to, including ‘Misery’ and ‘All the President's Men’. But over the years it’s been ‘The Princess Bride’ that has garnered Goldman the most acclaim from the public. And it’s not hard to see why.
'THE PRINCESS BRIDE' TRAILER
In 1987 the man who gave us ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ and ‘Stand By Me’ turned his attention away from fictional rock bands and Stephen King novels to produce the “unfilmable” ‘The Princess Bride’. Armed with an unknown cast, tiny budget and the faith of no one, Reiner set about making the greatest comedy, action, adventure, fairytale, romance a sick 10-year-old Fred Savage had even seen.
Of course I don’t need to tell you this. Surely there isn’t a person left in the world who hasn’t seen ‘The Princess Bride’ - and if you happen to come across one “unfollow” them immediately - but not before writing “Inconceivable!” under their latest post. Of course all of this would be pointless since they won’t get the reference! It upsets me greatly that there are people in this world who only know André the Giant because of Shepard Fairey, and even then they still don’t know that the “Obey” guy is André. There are people who only think Robin Wright is the FLOTUS to Francis Underwood’s POTUS, and Wonder Woman’s aunt. And when you mention Cary Elwes or Mandy Patinkin, their response is “Who?”. If you’ll excuse me for a second, I have something in my eye...
It is a dilemma faced more and more these days - how to introduce the greatest and most classic films of all time to a new audience when the typical response is “Is it on Netflix?”
It is a dilemma faced more and more these days - how to introduce the greatest and most classic films of all time to a new audience when the typical response is “Is it on Netflix?” If it’s not on Netflix* and Marvel didn’t make it and when pitching it to someone you’re forced to use words like Buttercup, Humperdink, swashbuckling and fairytale, what is one to do? For years the work spoke for itself, as a novel and a film, but now... you can’t binge it and there are no real visual effects to spice up the selling points - even the Rodents of Unusual Size are actually guys in rat costumes (R2-D2 style yo!).
I guess ‘The Princess Bride’ has now taken on a life imitating art scenario. In the film a grandfather struggles but ultimately succeeds in getting his 10-year-old grandson to listen to the tale. Surely today, it would go down fairly similarly - we can even employ Peter Falk’s approach and just tell the person we’re forcing to watch the film to shut up and proceed with the movie. The truth of the matter is ‘The Princess Bride’ is a genre-bending classic that is one of the greatest in each of its fields. The greatest romance. The greatest comedy. The greatest adventure - just as it promised; anyone who says differently is selling you something.
* For the record, ‘The Princess Bride’ is available on Netflix depending on where you are in the world. Sorry Australia, not you... yet.