After discussing Willow, last Monday, I got to thinking about my most favorite movie and it’s novel. I am a lot more familiar with the movie, having watched it enough times to have most of the lines memorized, but I’ve only read the novel once. Does this mean that I’ve finally found a book where I actually prefer the movie? Perhaps.
The fact is that this movie has garnered a huge cult following, mainly because of it’s wit and one liners, but also because of it’s incredible characters and the actors that portrayed them. There is a divide in the fan community, however, between those that prefer the novel and those that prefer the movie. Novel lovers tend to look down on movie lovers, in some sort of elitist way, as if those who have only seen the movie haven’t been let in on the whole story.
The truth is that the movie follows the plot of the book so perfectly, that nothing is lost there – there are no missed plot lines or unmentioned background, like there was between the Willow movie and novel. The one biggest difference between the movie and the novel is the style of narration. I’m particularly fond of the movie’s convention of having the grandfather read the story to his sick grandson. Fred Savage provides an excellent counterpart of the kid who finds romance and kissing disgusting, but it won over in the end.
The book on the other hand, claims to be originally written by S. Morgenstern, and abridged and commented on by William Goldman. This is, however a fiction in itself. Similiar to the fictional author of Memoirs of a Geisha, S. Morgenstern doesn’t exist. The abridgment is a rather clever part of the novel, a way for the author comment on and internally narrate his own work. I enjoyed this aspect of the novel, it was clever in a ‘pop up video’ kind of way, but it did get distracting from time to time, and occasionally got in the way of the story.
The William Goodman is so good at fiction that even his author biography is fictional, as are references to a deleted scene and a sequel, supposedly called Buttercups Baby. He is so successful in his deception, that many of the susceptible are deceived into believing that S. Morgenstern actually existed, a fact that many of the die hard novelists love gloating over.
What really matters, however, is not which medium is the better way to experience the story, or who is smarter for appreciating its different forms, it’s the fact that the story transfered into movie so effectively as to have such a devoted following.
“No more rhyming now, I mean it!” ”Anybody want a peanut?”
Get the movie here: The Princess Bride (1987)
and the novel here: The Princess Bride