It's the summer of 1983 and my dad took my cousin and me to Greece for the summer. I was 15. Our days consisted of mostly going to the beach, site seeing, hanging with the neighborhood kids playing soccer in the streets, listening to music on my faux Walkman and for me...reading. In Greece the country basically shuts down around 2-3 P.M. Till around 5-6 P.M. Everyone naps. The shops close. Streets are quiet. (Even growing up in California all my life, my family still held onto this tradition. I could never get into the habit, but you had to keep quiet...thus I read a lot.) Before we would go to the beach we would stop at the local shops and get a loaf fresh bread, tomatoes, grapes and feta cheese for our snacks. I would peruse the wire book kiosk that was on the sidewalk. While looking at all the books (many in English) I came across a title that intrigued me. The Princess Bride by William Goldman.
Thus begins my love for this book. It wasn't like any other book I had read. William Goldman begins the tale with letting you know that he is editing S. Morgenstern's (a fictional author) book about a fictional kingdom of Florin and that his, Goldman's, editing (or as he puts it "the good parts version") and thoughts will be in red when he interrupts the story. His father had read him the book as a child and that he actually found the book to be boring, thus he decided to create an abridged version.
I devoured that book in one day! I read it over and over again the entire time I was in Greece and again when I got home a few times a year. I read it again just about two years ago. I still have my copy from Greece but unfortunately it was so well loved that the cover fell off a few decades ago.
The movie. What can I say about it? It is a really cute version of the book but only just. There is so much missing, through no fault of Rob Reiner since there was much to cover in the book. For one thing you do not get the background of Fezzik and Inigo. Why did Inigo have scars on his face? What happened to his father, how did his death by The Six Fingered Man come about? How did Inigo and Fezzik meet? You don't get to see the incredible journey down into the Pit of Despair (or the Zoo of Death in the book, where Humperdinck keeps incredibly dangerous animals) by Fezzik and Inigo and how they fought their way down each level facing different perils to get to The Man In Black and The Machine. You don't get to see Fezzik as a child and his struggles. You don't get as many details of Westley and The Dread Pirate Roberts. You don't get to go into the Thieves Quarters for too long or the Fire Swamp. Still, all in all it does capture much of the book's charm and I love watching it. Does the fact that I know so much more about it because I read the book first come into play? Do I enjoy it more by having read the book because I know so much more about the characters and back stories? I think so.
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