Monday, December 03, 2007

A Storybook Story

I've been meaning to write this for a week or so. *sigh* Life....

Anyway, last week I was relaxing by watching all the special features on the extra DVD for The Princess Bride (Buttercup Edition). I love that movie, have watched it far too many times (and yet somehow, not enough), but hadn't gotten to watching the special features. That was a blast! Gets a little repetitive (it was as if each documentary maker just had to show Billy Crystal snarling out through the peephole in the door), but quite a fun way to spend an evening.
By the way, if you love the movie of The Princess Bride but haven't read the book, you really ought to. It's very funny and well-written, and there is more to the story, including a lot more background on all the characters that explains some of the lines in the movie.
But out of it all, I came across several interesting bits:
  • Mandy Patinkin and Cary Elwes didn't know how to fence before the film (it's an important item for both of them), but both learned and did all their own sword work, which is quite impressive.
  • When Andre the Giant was a child in France, he was too big to ride in the school bus, so one of his neighbors who had a big car often drove him to school. The neighbor was Samuel Beckett. (No, not Sam Beckett!)
  • Wallace Shawn claimed he had no sense of humor whatsoever, and didn't get the jokes. He said he just played the role in ways that seemed to make people laugh.
But by far the most interesting to me was Mandy Patinkin talking about his role as Inigo Montoya, the Spaniard seeking revenge on the Six-Fingered Man who killed his father. Patinkin talked about how he had lost his own father, to cancer, and how Inigo's quest to avenge his father's death somehow became his own attempt to come to grips with losing his father to cancer.

[SPOILER ALERT -- Don't read the following if you haven't seen the movie!]

(Spoiler: You have been warned!) At the moment where Inigo finally exacts his revenge, driving home his sword into Count Rugen, who has offered him "anything" if he will spare his life. Inigo finishes with the memorable line, "I want my father back, you son of a bitch!" Patinkin says at that moment he felt his own kind of catharsis, that for just a moment he had brought his father back to him.

I mention this mostly because that scene and that line have always gripped me. I could sense and share the feeling Inigo was expressing, and had no way of knowing that Patinkin was acting out not just the scene in the story but a scene in his own life drama, which is one I can relate to all too well. That line has always brought tears to my eyes (even now, just writing about it), because there is nothing in the world I have ever wanted so much as my father back.

Maybe writing about it can help me drive that sword home and at least momentarily defeat the cancer that took away my dad. It doesn't dominate my life the way it does Inigo Montoya's, but certainly not a day goes by that I don't think about my dad and miss him terribly. It motivates me to stay healthy and make sure I will be around for a long, long time for my daughter, and it makes me nag all of you to stay healthy and support cancer research.

Live strong.

1 comment:

Laura E. Goodin said...

I've always felt that The Princess Bride was far deeper than just a swashbuckler (although I've never seen swashes buckled quite that well in any other film). In truth, I thought the film had depth that the book in many ways lacked -- and that depth mostly had to do with Patinkin's amazing acting. That was the role of a lifetime!