The Princess Bride by William Goldman
One of my dark, dirty secrets: I did not like the movie version of “The Princess Bride” the first time I saw it. I didn’t hate it, but it didn’t speak to me in the same way that it spoke to so many others. Because it’s such a popular film, my not liking it felt almost like a personal failing. I think that’s what made me buy the book—I was hoping that I could redeem myself by liking it.
The movie follows the book fairly closely. I know, because after reading the book, I watched the movie again to see if I liked it any better. I did and I didn’t. I enjoyed Mandy Patinkin’s performance this time around. He was graceful and endearing. But there was yet something about the movie script and the acting that just didn’t work for me. The whole thing was “off” somehow.
The book also has an “off” element that bothered me. The author created an extra fiction around the origin of the story, including a fictional author, fictional countries, a fictional family, and fictional legal problems. I was pretty sure that he was making it up, at least some of it, but I wasn’t sure how much, and I really disliked the way he talked about his family, fictional or not. He insulted his fictional wife, contemplated cheating on her, and also called his kid fat. Not very nice.
This “off” element didn’t ruin the tale of the Princess Bride, which was unique and funny, not to mention an easy read. The irony is that if I ever read it aloud to a child, I would edit out the parts that I didn’t like, just as the author pretended that his grandfather did with the original story.
The Princess Bride has earned a home on my shelf. I still feel bad about not liking the movie, but there are lots of movies that I love and the general public hates, so let’s call it even.