A T-shirt slogan caused a security scare on a Qantas flight this week. The passenger’s T-shirt read: “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
Film fan, terrorist. Easy to confuse. Not.
The growing cult of The Princess Bride is a wonderful thing. Screenwriter William Goldman reckons it’s his finest work, though it took 14 years to reach the screen after the novel’s publication (when the first Fox exec who greenlit it was fired, Goldman writes in Which Lie Did I Tell?, he cared so much about the project that he bought back the rights with his own money). I’ve seen it ten times, and still tear up at the ending: “As you wish.”
The hero and heroine, though stereotypical by definition (it is the paradigm of a fairtytale romance), also have real character. So: the hero is not just dashing, he’s brilliant. He passes a test of swordsmanship, a test of strength, and a test of cunning. And yet, the obstacles to true love are made to seem near-insurmountable throughout, so that we’re on tenterhooks as to whether he will succeed. Brilliant.
As to Buttercup, she could easily be a wet blanket, with her shampoo-ad hair, but it’s interesting at first how she treats the boy, and is despite herself drawn to him; and then as the film progresses she displays considerable courage and perseverance. Gotta root for her too.
And the lines… the best example of their hold on film-goers’ psyches is an American Football game where the ESPN commentators shoehorn in as many references as possible. Watch the YouTube compilation; it’s just a minute and a half, and hilarious: http://bit.ly/RWbQXl.
As the Volkswagen “See Film Differently” campaign shows, memorable films have memorable lines: Taxi Driver’s “You talkin’ to me?”; Jaws’ “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.” The Princess Bride has that T-shirt slogan, but also “Life is pain”, “The Cliffs of Insanity”, “The Pit of Despair”, “I am not left-handed”, “mostly dead” and, of course, “Inconceivable!”.
Wallace Shawn has starred in over 100 films and TV shows but still, 25 years on, that’s the word that gets shouted at him wherever he goes.
The Princess Bride is on C5, Sun Jan 27, at 16.20.