Monday, January 12, 2015

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride

Title:  As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride
Author:  Cary Elwes and Joe Layden
Publication Information:  Touchstone. 2014. 272 pages.
ISBN:  1476764026 / 978-1476764023

Book Source:  I read this book because The Princess Bride is one of my all time favorite movies.

Opening Sentence:  "Standing onstage at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, surrounded by cast members and some of the crew, many of whom I've not seen in years, I feel an almost overwhelming sense of gratitude and nostalgia."

Favorite Quote:  "I also think there is a reason everyone involved with The Princess Bride still enjoys talking about it more than went-five years later:  it really was that much fun. There is a certain pride in the finished product, of course, and of being forever associated with such an enduringly popular movie. But it's the process itself that I remember most, and how much fun it was to go to work every day. I would say it was as close to a perfect moviemaking experience as I have ever had, or expect I'll every have. That's a rare thing on a movie set..."

The Princess Bride is perhaps one of my all time favorite movies. The original book by William Goldman was published in 1973. The movie was released in 1987, and in 2014, celebrated its 25th anniversary. I have watched it numerous times and have now had the pleasure of introducing it to my children. We can, of course, quote many of the memorable lines from this movie.

So, it was with much trepidation that I decided to read this book. Would a behind the scenes tale ruin the magic of the movie? Did I really want to know the reality behind the illusion of the movie? Some things are meant to be kept on their pedestal. Some illusions are best maintained, for once you know the reality, you can no longer see the illusion.

I am not quite sure why, but I decided to read this behind the scenes book by Cary Elwes, the one and only Man in Black. Fortunately, this book is not a big, tell-all revelation often found in Hollywood behind the scenes books. I am happy to report that the book maintains the charm of the movie itself. The making of the movie appears to have been as adventurous and as wholesome as the movie itself.

The book, of course, tells Cary Elwes's experience with this movie. The book is organized around major memorable scenes and characters, from "wrestling R.O.U.S in the fire swamp," "being mostly dead," "Vizzini and Miracle Max," and, of course, "the greatest sword fight in modern times."

Throughout the book is commentary from the other members of the cast and crew. Writer William Goldman. Director Rob Reiner. Robin Wright as Buttercup. Mandy Pitinkin as Inigo Montoya. Billy Crystal as Miracle Max. Chris Sarandon as Prince Humperdink and the many others who lent their talents to this movie. In addition, the book has many memories of those cast members no longer with us - Andre the Giant as Fezzik in particular.

Across the board, the memories are positive ones - of shared accolades, of admiration for each other, of laughter and fun, and of pride in a job well done. The magic of the making of the movie appears to match the movie itself. "If I had to describe our production, I would say it was more like a circus troupe than any I had been on ... If you think about it, we had a "show" that involved giants, little people, wizards, albinos, sword fights, and death-defying stunts (and plenty of clowning around) ... Heck, we even had four white horses!"

The skeptic in me questions the fact that everything about the process of making this movie was wonderful. Yet, the fan in me suspends disbelief and allows the magic of the movie to continue. Some illusions, especially ones as positive and wholesome and family friendly ones as this movie, are just meant to be enjoyed.

If you are a fan of the movie, you will enjoy the book. In fact, you may enjoy the movie all over again as well. As you view each scene, you can chuckle over the behind the movie story of that scene.

If you are not a fan of the movie ... well, that is simple "Inconceivable!"

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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