I very rarely read anything that isn’t a novel, but The Princess Bride is one of my favourite movies, and although I haven’t read the actual book yet (don’t sweat, i’m on it), this story blossomed into such an endearing cult classic that I feel it more than warranted this behind the scenes look. I also happened to receive this as an unexpected Christmas present from my Dad, so that was nice!
Cary Elwes is a true gent. His class and charm translates onto the page beautifully and results in a read as effortless as one of his interviews. I know he probably had quite a fair bit of help from Joe Layden, but reading this I really got his voice and personality coming across, and didn’t feel like it was someone else writing his words. Following the introduction, the book is generally written in chronological order. It covers the moment Cary hears about Rob Reiner and Andy Scheinman coming to visit him in a hotel in Berlin to spontaneously discuss the part, highly intensive fencing training (to nail the greatest sword fight of all time), meeting all the cast and crew and their bonding, memories from the set, and even life after the Princess Bride with it’s slightly disappointing box office reception and subsequent revival into cult phenomena.
Dispersed throughout are little sound bites from the director, Rob Reiner, and others members of the cast and crew such as Robin Wright and Billy Crystal, where they share their point of view on a particular event or memory Cary is talking about in the main part of the text. I really liked this touch. It made the book interesting to read as you weren’t just starting at huge bulky paragraphs throughout. Also, it really gave a sense of the diversity of the cast and their talents, and conveyed the feeling of what an amazing collaborative experience it was for them making the film.
After finishing this book I mainly came away with the sense of true kinship and even love that was shared among every member of the cast and crew. Everyone who has a say in the book explains it as being one of the best experiences of their lives, both from an artistic career and personal point of view. There’s a lot of love for Fezzik – Andre the Giant – who sadly passed at the young age of 46, who Cary describes as every bit the gentle giant as his character.
Some people may find this book a little sycophantic at points, Cary really doesn’t have a bad thing to say about anybody, and can often be a little overzealous in his compliments. Although for me, this didn’t bother me, as I truly believe every word was heartfelt.
There were some literal laugh out loud moments for me, especially when Cary talks about antics on the set and subsequent accidents – but I won’t spoil them! And working with the R.O.U.S (Rodents of Unusual Size) sounded like quite the experience! The book has some lovely behind the scenes photographs which really broke up the read and were enjoyable to flick through.
All in all, I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is a fan of the film or is just interested in the art of film/film production in general. It made me want to watch the film again to remind myself of why I loved it so much – which I did!
To top it all off, the dust jacket can be removed and has this gorgeous poster on the reverse side of the cover by artist Shepard Fairey.
Thanks for reading!