S. Morganstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure
Who loves "The Princess Bride"? Show of hands........
I don't think that's going to work in this medium, is it? Hmmm.
Alright, how about this. I rant for a while about how it's the greatest book ever written (other than the Bible of course which I don't count as a book, but a collection of books more akin to a library) and one of the best movies ever, and how I don't understand why my wife doesn't love it as much as I do. Then you can all tell me why I'm bonkers or a visionary among Philistines in the comments. Good? Okay.
I saw "The Princess Bride" as a movie when I was about seven or eight. The film was pretty new on VHS (for the young 'uns, that's an ancient form of DVD. For the REAL young 'uns, that's an ancient form of Blu-Ray) and my babysitter picked it out for us one day at the video store. I should say a bit here about this babysitter. She is the reason why I know (and have since my early childhood) about such cinematic gems as "Critters", "Grease", "Once Bitten" (the breakout debut of Jim Carrey) etc. etc. etc. She had....interesting taste in movies, but her taste, as much as any other, affected mine for at least the first fifteen years of my film-watching life.
She had seen "Bride" (as it will henceforward be referred to) in the theatres when it first came out. She told us how great it was, and how funny, but I was as skeptical as Kevin Arnold (that's how I knew Fred Savage then) was as his Grandfather starts reading him the book. "It's got fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles..." That's about the same way that the babysitter had sold it to me. Let me tell you, she was never more right about anything else.
The movie had everything you could want. So much awesomeness was contained within, that I didn't even mind the kissing so much. In fact, by the final celebratory kiss from Wesley to Buttercup, I was as excited about it as Kevin Arnold was (again, I know the kid was Fred Savage, but to me he was the dorky kid in love with Winny). I grew up loving that movie, and apparently I wasn't the only one, because over the years it became a staple on cable. By the time I got to college, you could watch it five or six times most weekends without renting a video (another reference to those ancient DVD's, kids).
That's about the time that I discovered that the movie was based off?? of a book. Yes, I know that information is in the credits of the movie, but it's something that had evaded me until I was told so by a friend. This was a book that I had to own. I searched and searched and not only found a copy, but miracle of miracles, it was the 25th Anniversary edition with the first chapter of the sequel included! I was in heaven. The self-referential humor that the movie is known for was even more at play in the book. It was everything I liked about the film taken to 11. It was immediately and irrevocably, my favorite book of all time.
At this time in my life, I was living in a world where everyone knew of this wondrous gift from the creative gods, and hailed it for its originality, its brilliance, its "joi de vivre" and other French idioms for awesomeness. Then I meet my wife, and I learn that in this assumption (and in many others) I was wrong. How could it be that someone didn't care for "The Princess Bride." Get tired of it? Maybe. Consider it a little childish? Perhaps, if they hadn't read the book. But "not care for it"? No, this wasn't possible. Obviously, she just hadn't been shown the film in the right light (both figuratively and literally speaking).In the intervening years, I've shown the film to her in several lights. Nothing. I've given her the book to read (even tried reading it to her at one point). Nothing. The fact of the matter is that my wife (she of supreme taste in everything from malt to music to men) doesn't like "The Princess Bride." She doesn't even get why I like it, and I think that's the point that really hangs me up.
Take all of this backstory and apply it to my thinking today as I read an article at Cinematical.com asking if "The Princess Bride" was only for the guys. Apparently, the writer was recently at a party when after hearing a quote from the film, a girl said, that basically all men love the movie and women don't. I thought this inconceivable ("you keep using that word.") dislike of the film by my wife was a solitary notion, but now I had to at least consider the idea that her entire gender might be biased against the film. What could account for that?After some considerable thought on the matter, I came to this conclusion. If (and that's a strong if) there is a gender bias against "Bride" then perhaps it is because of the idealized past that the film brings to mind for men. Most modern men have a sense of lost purpose. There's a great book called "Wild at Heart" that talks about this idea. For generations (eons really) men were supposed to fight the bad guys (or rodents of unusual size), save the Princess (while making witty small-talk), and live happily ever after. In modern society, women are our equals (they always were, but we finally recognize it) and don't need saving that much. Bad guys are hard to tell from the good guys since we are all wearing varying shades of gray hats, and the purges of the early 20th century have left us with very few rodents of unusual size. It's all a shame really, and "The Princess Bride" brings those feelings out in even the youngest of boys. Maybe since, in this idealized past, the girls would have needed rescuing, it's not something that they look back on all that fondly. Or, maybe they just don't like rhyming giants. Whatever, it's their loss.
So, I could imagine (because of my keen sense of imagination and my preternaturally developed reasoning skills) a cause for women to not like the film (or, I suppose, the book). But the question remains. Do women not like "The Princess Bride"? Do most men feel like I do about it, or have I overblown its importance in the modern male? The comment section lies below, awaiting your validation or repudiation.