There’s a Shortage of Perfect Movies…
A while back there was talk of remaking the movie The Princess Bride, which elicited a great deal of reaction, much of it negative.
“Inconceivable,” was the most common response, echoing a familar line from the film.
“There’s a shortage of perfect movies in this world,” said Cary Elwes, who played Westley in the movie, “It would be a pity to damage this one.”
But this reminded me of the unusual circumstances behind my appreciation for this movie.
Alice and I were visiting a friend for a final time, as she lay in a coma in Intensive Care.
She had been beautiful once, but not now. Or maybe she still was; I’m not sure how to apply that word here. The head-on collision that had rendered her unconscious had also lashed her face and body with terrible wounds.
We listened to the machines keep her body alive as we conspired in subdued whispers as to what we should do next.
Was she there, or was she gone already? We didn’t know. Neither did the doctors.
We decided there was no harm in being wrong; we stood up and faced her hospital bed awkwardly.
We began talking as if she was alive, and could hear us.
For the next ten minutes, we took turns talking, telling her that we cared for her, and that we and other friends would be there for her as long as necessary. After we ran out of things to say, we said our goodbyes, and turned to leave.
Suddenly, her eyelids fluttered erratically, and her jaw moved as if she was struggling to speak… and then she was still again.
Turning back, I reached out and touched her face lightly. Then we went back to the waiting room with the rest of her family. Someone else went to take our place.
Later that night, her relatives reached a painful decision. They disconnected the machines. It happens.
At the funeral, one woman cut through the syrup and simply said something that I’d be proud to have said about me: “She wasn’t perfect, but she loved us, and we loved her.”
After the funeral, her mother gave me a deeply personal gift.
“This was one of her favorite books,” she said. “I’m sure she would have liked for you to have it.”
The paperback she handed to me had the improbable title The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure, The “Good Parts” Version.
And so, turning its pages, I first encountered Princess Buttercup, the Dread Pirate Roberts, and the gallant swordsman Inigo Montoya, long before their adventures came to the world via an immensely popular movie—with which I feel a special bond, for reasons you will now understand.
It’s a pity that I lost this book long ago; the cover art did not feature either Cary Elwes or Robin Wright, as this was five years before the movie came out. I lent it to a number of people; eventually it was not returned.
When I heard they were going to make a Princess Bride movie, I was skeptical. How could they possibly do this book justice?
Well, I think they managed remarkably well, although I would recommend reading the book as well. There are some hilarious aspects to the story that the movie couldn’t quite squeeze in.