The Princess Bride
Months ago, years perhaps have even passed, I picked up “The Princess Bride” at a local bookstore. I have seen the movie numerous times, and I still think it is quite possibly one of the best movies ever. I thought it would be interesting to read the book, as I always think it will be interesting to compare movie versions with book versions. I have only just now finished reading this book. It has rested on my bookshelf, admist dozens and dozens of books that I have read, re-read, and read again, but “The Princess Bride” was never cracked open. So, during this long break from school, I have successfully put off working on my own novel, to read something, anything that will give me excuse to not think about my own story and all it’s problems.
This is, of course, the William Goldman abridged version, of which I am referring. And I must admit that I was completely unaware of the fact that he not only abridged the book, but was also the man behind the movie that I loved so well. Which, I suppose, is the reason why the movie seems to follow the book almost word for word.
The most important point I’ve decided to try making is that no matter how much I loved the movie, and no matter how close it is to the book, the book itself seems to possess a unique quality that the movie seemed to lack. I’m still not sure exactly what that quality is. I just know that I get something special from the written version. Something that sticks around longer and means more to me than the movie.
Reading is so much more personal, I think. And sure, the movie is exciting, you tense up at just the right moments, you root and cheer for the good-guy, you boo and hiss the bad guy, and you tsk-tsk when the heroes make uncertain (possibly bad) or wrong decisions. But I think sometimes you can get too caught up in the display, in the presentation of the story, and perhaps miss the depth of it. This is a book that is quite humorous (written with plenty of satiric intention) and the story seems to be quite light-hearted. Yet, the deeper you look at things, and the more you think about it, you come to realize (or at least, I did) that this story is all about what it means to live, to love, to hate, to doubt, to fear, to have friends, and so much more. This is a story that, in a pleasant way, tries to teach you that things may not always go as you want, you may not always get what you please, and yes, damn it, life isn’t always fair.
There’s a moment in the book when Goldman steps in to explain why he’s cut something out. But somewhere in the midst of that explanation, he talks about something that someone once said to him. Something that finally helped him to settle his disappointment at discovering that Buttercup married Prince Humperdinck (he later found out it was all a dream sequence, but the emotional upset never left him until that person told him this): ” ‘Life isn’t fair, Bill. We tell our children that it is, but it’s a terrible thing to do. It’s not only a lie, it’s a cruel lie. Life is not fair, and it never has been, and it’s never going to be.’ ”
And I think it’s true. Completely. I think maybe in some small way, that’s what Morgenstern wanted to do with this story. Maybe he wanted to show that life wasn’t fair but it could still be good.