Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure, by William Goldman

This week I've decided to look at one of my favorite works, The Princess Bride. Like probably most of my readers, I was introduced to The Princess Bride through the film adaptation (which remains my all-time favorite movie), but there is of course a novel which the book was based off of. I definitely think both the movie and the book do a very good job with the story and are very funny, but the book has a far more satiric tone than the movie which is much more light-hearted. Still, I wouldn't change anything in either the book or movie because they have their own merits.

Now, I'm sure you're asking yourself, "But Kalpar, if I've seen the movie," (Which you undoubtedly have. If you haven't then go, find a copy, and watch it. I'll wait, this review isn't going anywhere.)

(There, see? Wasn't that a good movie? I liked Inigo the best, but Fezzik's pretty cool too. Aren't you glad you watched it? Oh, right, back to the review.)
"If I've already seen the movie, why should I read the book? This isn't like Lord of the Rings where a lot of stuff got cut to make the movies only three hours long or like the Hobbit where a lot of stuff was added to make the movies three hours long, is it?"

Well, dear and gentle reader, the answer is of course more than a little complicated. Yes, things get cut from the movie but they're the extra bits that would have had to be cut to make a movie out of a book anyway, as book version inevitably have far more detail than movies. However, the bits within the book that are not in the movie are so very good that I think it's worth the extra effort of going to read the book. Perhaps most important is that you get more backstory for my two favorite characters: Inigo and Fezzik.

In the movie, Fezzik specifically doesn't get terribly much characterization. He's just the big giant who's really strong and yet nice as well. In the book you learn more about Fezzik as a character and the challenges he faced when he was growing up as the biggest and strongest. It took a character that was just sort of there for me in the movie and gave him more depth and motivation as a person. Inigo, of course, is perhaps more memorable as a character than our ostensible protagonists Westley and Buttercup, and a lot of his character comes across on the screen. What I really liked, however, was we got to see more of Inigo's history and see his motivation to hunt down Count Ruegen from the very beginning. Plus, Inigo is just really freaking cool.

What I really liked the most about the book version of The Princess Bride is there's more about Buttercup which makes you understand her more as a character. In the movie Buttercup even I have to admit that Buttercup doesn't do a whole heck of a lot and constantly needs rescuing. It certainly fits in with the story, but makes for an uninteresting character. In the book it's more explicitly satire because you can see that Buttercup's not exactly the brightest person around and you get the feeling Westley's only attracted to her looks. Now, obviously you can interpret it any way you want, but I feel like it's that little twist on the end of a typical fairy tale that makes you think about all the things in those stories.

The other really big thing about the book is the interjections from the author. You sort of get that in the movie with the interruptions with the grandpa and the kid, but there are far more interruptions in the novel and probably the most important message you get from that is life isn't fair. We know this to be true, of course, but we also desperately pretend it isn't most of the time as well. The book and movie have their own leanings on that issue, especially with the ending, but ultimately you have to decide what to think about it. Personally I agree that life isn't fair, which is why we should work to make it that way, but that's just me.

Ultimately the movie is more of a lighthearted romp while the book has a far darker, more satiric edge to it. Both of them are good, but in different ways and I highly recommend them to you both.

- Kalpar

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