I remember the first time I watched The Princess Bride.
Which is incredible in and of itself since I don’t have a lot of vivid memories from when I was eight, but I remember this. My family was visiting old friends, who also had children of similar ages to my brother and I. My parents were excited that none of us had seen the movie. I remember being enthralled by the adventure and humor of the film. Even at eight I sensed that The Princess Bride was a special movie.
After that I grew up with all the other 90’s kids quoting all the famous lines. During my sophomore year of high school, my drama teacher popped in the VHS and the experience was amazing, just as good as I remembered. The majority of the class knew all the classic lines, and I felt bad for the first-time watchers.
Today the love still grows as my generation is now sharing their fondness for the movie with their children. Somehow this quirky little movie has become apart of our culture and has the possibility of staying relevant for some time.
All of this is to say that the love I have for The Princess Bride is strong, and that I really wanted to love Cary Elwes’ book too.
Before people egg my house I want to emphasize that As You Wish isn’t a bad book. It just took some work to get to the good stuff, and it didn’t meet my expectations. I thought the book would be a collection of stories from the set of the movie, but it’s actually more like a mini-memoir.
Cary Elwes covers everything meeting the director, Rob Reiner, and landing the iconic role to the wrap-up of production (also some bits about the aftermath and surge in popularity). The first eighty pages had some good bits but it was overrun by too many details and repetition. Sadly this made the beginning rather boring and at a couple of points I wondered if I should stop. Ultimately, I’m glad that I didn’t, because when Elwes gets to his first chapter about actually filming the movie is where we get to the meaty stories.
I know some people will think I’m being harsh on Elwes, especially since writing isn’t his trade, but I can’t stand overt repetition and this book was loaded with it.
The biggest offensive would be in reference to Robin Wright, the lovely actress who played Buttercup. Elwes goes into detail (LOTS of detail) about how beloved Wright was, her acting prowess, and beauty. I was fine with a few pages dedicated to Robin Wright when Elwes describes their first meeting. I too think she is underrated in the movie (also House of Cards anyone?).
What I can’t forgive is the whole chapter on Robin Wright later on in the book. It started out describing their working relationship and then spent the majority of the chapter repeating much of what was already stated. I promise you, Cary Elwes, I’m a fan of Robin Wright too!
As I said previously, despite the flaws I’m glad I continued. I finally got to the stories that as a fan I wanted to hear. Filming the Fire Swamp, the memorable Andre the giant, a nervous Wallace Shawn, Elwes’ injuries and the greatest sword fight in history. I ate it up. I wished Elwes had edited down his beginning and focused more on these stories.
In The Margins:
- Due to the holidays, next week’s review will drop on Wednesday.
- Since its been so warm out hopefully A Christmas Carol will get everyone in the holiday spirit. (The story’s only a 100 pages!)