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Parasha: The Princess Bride wrap-up

Hrm, what to say about the Princess Bride? It is too long, I will sum up.

The main story really seems quite similar to the movie, with a few notable differences: we get more fleshed-out detail in the book, due to space (and narrative language), there are a few bigger scenes that got cut from the movie (such as the backstory on Inigo and Fezzik, which was interesting and fun to see, and the Zoo of Death sequence, and at least some mention of how Fezzik got that bloody cloak). And, of course, the framing device.

Really I think the device used for the movie worked for that quite well - it was still reflected in the book in the idea of Goldman's father reading the story to him when he was sick, and obviously the editorial bits wouldn't have worked in the movie. Plus we got Peter Falk, which is always good.

That said, I think both the book and movie are rich experiences, each not to be missed if you're a fan of the other. The movie had a great cast that really brought some of the details of the book to rich wonderful life, while the book with its whimsical text and added detail is in many ways richer, deeper, and even more humorous.

Of course, this is a book reading type thing, so I should talk about the book itself, as opposed to the book against the backdrop of the movie. But it's just damned difficult to do, since I was so familiar with the movie before I even tried the book, for a change.

But to attempt it: the book is.. great? Hrm, not a very promising start. The book is an interesting exercise in meta-storytelling, if that makes any sense... and usually while I might admire the craftsmanship in such a work, I don't *enjoy* it all that much per se. But this book is quite enjoyable despite its quirky nature (or in part because of it), and I think that says something about Goldman's skill as a writer.

Either that, or he just got lucky.

The characters aren't always as likable when you get down to it as they seem on first blush, since I didn't remember disliking the characters before. But breaking it down as we have and looking deeper, Buttercup comes across as a bit dim and selfish, and Westley really doesn't carry himself off very well at some points. Fezzik and Inigo are of course flawed (they're kidnappers at the start for crying out loud!), but are still generally delightful, and at least we're not *supposed* to like the Count or the Prince. But I was surprised at how little well the main two characters withstood the scrutiny. Oh well! Luckily this isn't the type of book that's carried along by the fact that you Love and Adore the protagonists.

I would still love to know why Goldman is making himself out to be such an ass in the framing device. I can't figure it out! I can figure out possibilities - that he really is an ass and doesn't realize how badly he's painting himself, that he's commenting even there on the nature of love and relationships, that he's hoping people figure that if he's painting himself so badly, in reality he must be a Swell Guy... I just don't know, though. Hrmph.

Anyhow I may or may not have more to say later in comments. But hopefully this should be enough at least to kick off any discussion y'all may want to get underway!

A reminder, for any that may have missed it: next month (*glances at calendar* er... this month) will be a "down month" and we shall hopefully be hashing out books here shortly.


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Jul. 3rd, 2010 09:17 pm (UTC)
Jul. 3rd, 2010 09:35 pm (UTC)
...That's beautiful. :)
Jul. 4th, 2010 12:27 am (UTC)
Love the hover-over text as always with XKCD: "Inigo/Buttercup 4eva <3"
Jul. 4th, 2010 01:22 am (UTC)
I'm caught up! Including reading all the previous posts just now.

It was interesting to hear you all comparing the movie and the book and saying they were so different, especially with respect to the backgrounds of Fezzik & Inigo. I think that means I melded the book and the movie in my mind years ago, because I would've sworn those were in the movie. The part about Fezzik learning to fight groups, for instance, I could just picture perfectly in my mind. But, that may just be me; when watching "Return of the Jedi", I still hear shadowy lines of dialogue that were added in the novelization.

Other parts, such as "if only we had a wheelbarrow!", really were spot on so far as I could tell.

Did you notice what *didn't* get said in the Miracle Max scene?

As to the author.... well, I was pleasantly surprised that we didn't return to him and his family at the end of the book. Perhaps he realized that the way he'd painted his wife and son, mentioning them in the closing would just leave you with a sour taste as you walked away.

I think Buttercup doesn't deserve the rough treatment she gets. While she starts as the Snooty Mean Girl, after that she seems sufficiently astute & reasonable to me. She made logical choices in extreme situations -- marry or die; marry again or see Westley die. (How was she to know that the Prince would stick by the letter but not the spirit of the promise he made to her?) In general she seemed aware of what was going on around her; the only thing which made me question that was when she didn't interpret the commotion going on outside the wedding as "I'm being rescued". Westley's "baggage" and Inigo's "do as you're told" seemed out of place to me, and Buttercup's Galadriel impersonation as they get through the gates didn't make up for it.

As to the author, I am betting that part of it was that he really was an ass. According to the Amazon blurbs on his second memoir, from 1978-1985, he was "a leper in Hollywood" and couldn't sell a thing; I find it far too easy to believe that personality was part of that. In another review of the memoir, someone says, "the only book Goldman wrote that he really loves and is proud of is the Princess Bride". Maybe I just don't have the right temperament to understand this, but I don't see taking something I made that I really enjoyed and was really proud of to say, "Hmm, I'm too perfect here, I need to be more of a creep."

I just don't know. But I can find out! My local library has a copy of the 2nd memoir.

The movie filming notes via Wikipedia mostly just make me think, "Poor Andre the Giant!"
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