I had probably seen The Prince Bride (the movie) about twenty times before I realized that it more than just a brilliant Rob Reiner project and was actually based upon The Princess Bride (the book) by William Goldman. I was an ignorant child.
So now, twenty odd years after I first fell in love with the film, I’ve read the book. This is where the conversation would usually fall into the old saw about how the book is always better than the move because of details and imagination and internalization and yada yada yada. But not this time. Because I love that movie. And now I love the book, too. And I’m not sure that it’s possible to love one more than the other (a statement which, to book snobs everywhere, probably seems like an affront to nature).
The reality is that there may not be another film-based-on-a-book that holds so closely to its subject matter in both the general and specific. Adventure and romance are the calling cards of The Princess Bride and both iterations are overflowing with those themes in the most enjoyable ways possible. And all of that eminently quotable dialogue from the film version? Almost all of it is lifted, in many cases verbatim, from the book. I guess it helps that Goldman was able to be both author and screenwriter. A novel idea. Why is it again that movie studio execs don’t allow for that arrangement more often? Oh right. That’s why. It’s almost like film producers are more worried about box office numbers than about putting out the kind of quality films that might have a cult following of, oh I don’t know, let’s say more than two and a half million Facebook fans.
Could Hollywood really be that shortsighted? Inconceivable.