Thursday night, there was a screening of The Princess Bride at the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square. I have seen The Princess Bride perhaps 30 times in my life (that’s a wildly conservative estimate), but never on the big screen. So naturally we went. And I took several furtive pictures (“like a Japanese tourist,” I was described), though it probably violates some kind of copyright or theater rule, but honestly, it isn’t as if everyone doesn’t already have these images burned permanently into their brains, and if they don’t, they should, so this is really just a public service. You’re welcome, Act III Communications.
“But what if something happens to you?”
“Hear this now: I will always come for you.”
“But how can you be sure?”
“This is true love. You think this happens every day?”
“You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you.”
“You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die.”
“Death cannot stop true love. What it can do is delay it for a while.”
“I will never doubt again.”
“There will never be a need.”
“Sonny, true love is the greatest thing in the world. Except for a nice MLT – mutton, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean. They’re so perky, I love that. But that’s not what he said…”
“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
“…And there they were, four white horses! And I thought, there are four of us, if we ever find the lady – hello, lady!”
“…This one left them all behind.”
It’s hard to describe they way I feel about this movie; fortunately, I’m saved from having to, because the vast majority of people I know feel the same way. The brilliant device of the grandfather telling the story to the grandson (Fred Savage! From The Wonder Years! We’re ridiculously sentimental three seconds into the movie – how can we not be?) creates humor as a balance for the over-the-top romance of it (has anyone ever counted the number of times the phrase “true love” is said throughout the movie?). The characters are absolutely fantastic, and they aren’t simply shallow foils for each other, either. If you’ve read the book you know each has an in-depth backstory that is only glossed over by Vizzini on the ship in the beginning: he reminds Inigo of his drunkenness – brought on by his failure to find the six-fingered man – and Fezzik of his state when Vizzini found him, friendless and unemployed in Greenland.
Overall, the movie is clever and quick; the casting is impeccable; the story is romantic but laughs at itself (and, one suspects, laughs itself into hysterics at movies like The Notebook). It is the only movie I have ever seen that I’ll allow is better than – or at the very least equal to – the book (though in all fairness I did see the movie first). It is the only movie that acts as a flytrap for me: if I walk into a room where it is on, I am not leaving that room until it is over. And even in the theater I did not manage to refrain from whispering the lines along with the characters on screen (I wasn’t the only one. And there was much applause, especially when Inigo finally killed Count Rugen).
In a word: perfect.
What I’m reading: A Visit From the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
What I’m listening to: El Momento Descuidado, The Church; Spanish with Michel Thomas; Jason Nichols