It seems everywhere has a Movies in the Park or something along those lines, and Knoxville has a couple options. One of our local theatres (not a cinema but more of a stage theatre) has a Summer Movie Magic series where they will show 6 classic movies. After missing several shows, we finally made it to see The Princess Bride. They started by having an organist rise up the stage playing the 20th Century Fox theme and a few other songs to get you into the mood. I have to admit that I didn’t expect the showing to be great due to having over 1000 people in attendance, the old style mid-back chairs, a large screen but not massive, and a decent sound system but not as all surrounding as cinemas are now. Then I was reminded of the magic that theatres can bring forth. Once the lights dimmed down there was a hush that fell over the crowd as if they were controlled by the same switch. At every great and quotable moment, the audience cheered or clapped … at the right moments and not interfering with the movie. Of course, at the highlight of the movie is when Inigo gets his revenge and the entire theatre erupted with thunderous applause. It reminded me of the joy that theatres can be and I can only imagine there were a few children where that was their first time watching The Princess Bride; which will only feed their memory of how fantastic the movie is in reality.
So how would I rate it? I would say 10 “Land wars in Asia or going against a Sicilian when death is on the line?”
FOR THE UNITIATED
A young boy (Fred Savage) is home sick and his grandfather (Peter Falk) comes over to read a special book. One that his father read to him and he read to the boy’s father and the time came for reading it to him. It is a story with “Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…” to quote Grandpa. It starts with a farm boy named Westley (Cary Elwes) that worked for the most beautiful lady in the country, Buttercup (Robin Wright). They grew to love each other so he left to find his fortune so they could be married, but his ship was captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts who takes no prisoners.
Five years later Buttercup became Princess Buttercup when Prince Humperdink (Chris Sarandan) proposed to her. Shortly before the wedding, three hired men kidnap her to kill her and start a war for Prince Humperdink. The brains is Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), the swordsman is Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), and the muscle is Fezzik (Andre the Giant). Their plan is thwarted by the man in black (aka the Dread Pirate Roberts aka Westley) who bests them all at their strongest points. Princess Buttercup and Westley are reunited only to be torn apart when Prince Humperdink and Count Rugen (Christopher Guest) capture Westley before mostly killing him. Once Inigo hears Count Rugen is the six-fingered man who killed his father. He proposes getting Fezzik and the man in black to help him storm the castle so he can get revenge … therefore putting Westley in a position to win back Buttercup.
If you have seen The Princess Bride, then you know that everything works together in harmony. The witty banter, the action, the love story, and the story being read by the grandpa. It is infinitely quotable and some people might even have the majority memorized without even knowing it. It is inconceivable … that there is a person who wouldn’t enjoy the movie. The Princess Bride has something for everyone and is a fun movie in general. Reading any of the interviews regarding the movie will reveal that everyone even had fun making it. In short, I believe this to be a rare and perfect movie.
The worst thing is there are not more movies that can be this great.
What can I say about the movie that I haven’t said already? If you somehow haven’t seen it, go find it and watch it. If you haven’t seen it lately, go and watch it again with some friends.
While I generally try to avoid movies on opening night or busy times thanks to my time spent working in theatres, getting in a theatre with a crowd that WANTS to be there and creates an energy that you cannot replicate at home. Movie theatre prices may be expensive and at home theatres are getting cheaper, but there is something about a great experience in a movie theater that is magic.
My recommendation is another nostalgic classic, The Sandlot. It is another infinitely quotable movie family friendly movie that is nearly timeless. The characters and story blend together to something that could be reminiscent of something you experienced in your childhood. It might not have been baseball or that exaggerated, but the sense of comradery that everyone should have been lucky enough to experience.