The Stories That Shaped Me: The Princess Bride
Anyone who grew up in the 1980s like me probably won't be surprised at this next installment of "The Stories That Shaped Me." The Princess Bride was a huge part of my growing up years, as it was for many of my fellow 80s babies. I first saw it when I was around ten years old. Westley was my first official movie crush and pretty much my idea of the perfect man for many years after that. Buttercup was so beautiful in all of her lovely dresses with her long, blonde hair. I loved the fencing, the whimsical story, and all of the memorable characters, especially Inigo and Fezzik. And as a child, I saw the story as a straight-forward fairy tale.
As I grew, I started recognizing the whit and satire of the script. It made me love the story even more. I've found that often the best stories have layers that add more depth and enjoyment the older we get.
I realized that Buttercup was a pretty helpless heroine in the fire swamp, but I still related to her because I can guarantee I would be just as helpless when confronted with a R.O.U.S. (I DO think I would have been able to recognize Westley as the man in black, though. The mustache and the mask were about as clever a disguise as Clark Kent's glasses in Superman. I know she thought he was dead, but still.)
I also realized that Westley had his flaws, like behaving so roughly toward Buttercup when he thought she had married Prince Humperdink in spite of her promise to Westley. Granted, he was hurt and confused, but a little healthy communication would have cleared the air a lot quicker.
But I didn't even care, because it was just so much fun!
Sometime after high school, I discovered William Goldman's novel on which the movie was based, and it became one of my favorite books. How I wished the movie had been able to include more of Buttercup, Westley, Inigo and Fezzik's backstories, and, of course, ALL of the levels of the Pit of Despair.
While I'd always been an imaginative girl and had fallen in love with many books and movies over the years, The Princess Bride is the first live-action movie I remember capturing my imagination and indulging my romantically inclined heart in a big way. It felt so real, like a Disney movie brought to life, but even better. I LIVED the story every time I watched it. I was Princess Buttercup, waiting for Westley to rescue me. I laughed hysterically every time Miracle Max and Valerie, amidst their many shenanigans, gave Inigo and Fezzik the miracle they needed. I felt Inigo's pride and relief when he finally avenged his father. I cheered every time Westley, Fezzik, and Inigo rescued Buttercup from Humperdink. And my heart warmed at the love that grew between the grandson and his grandfather as they read the story together.
I can't tell you how many times my family and extended family quote this movie. It's still among our favorites, and has stood the test of time in a way that many stories haven't. Why is that, do you ask? Perhaps because beyond the clever quips and perfect line delivery, beyond the outstanding duels and amazing characters, at its heart, The Princess Bride is a story about love. The love between Westley and Buttercup. The love between friends. The love between a grandfather and his grandson. And most of all, how sharing a good story with someone you love can be the greatest, most magical thing in the world.
Except for a nice MLT, when the mutton is nice and lean.