P365 – Day 59 (The Princess Bride)

How many times did you listen to yesterday’s clip of Inigo speaking to Westley? Once? Twice? Didn’t listen at all – really, you’re busy and don’t have time for random clicking on misc. blogs. “How did I get here anyway?” is the question you’re asking. That and “What is a Duckabush??”

In our house, I think we played the same sound bite over 10 times. The older two listened to it twice while they were reading the blog. I laughed and played it two or three times myself. Tim listened to it this morning. Daniel came by, wondering what I was doing, and made me play it. David heard the tail end and wanted to hear it himself. That might be closer to 15 times.

At lunch I had an overwhelming and totally surprising desire to watch The Princess Bride (hope that didn’t ruin the Obscure Movie Quote from the end of yesterday’s blog). Speaking of which, anyone recognize the other quotes?

I have to confess that we occasionally watch bits and pieces of movies during lunch time. Just one of those perks of homeschooling. Often they are educational films (amazing what you can define as “educational” if you put your mind to it). The 3.5 hours of Shackelton’s Stowaway lasted us a whole week of lunches (and a few dinners). We’ve watched animal films, nature and geography studies, and all sorts of science movies. It goes without saying, of course, that Civil War films show up on a regular basis. The younger set, however, have a fairly low tolerance for documentaries. Joshua usually grabs the Civil War library movies and heads out to the garage to “preview” them for me. I’m training him well – he’s already working on this week’s Civil War co-op agenda. My evil plan is working!

Today, however, we did not attempt to disguise our movie viewing under lofty scholastic labels. We skipped highbrow and went straight to comedy, adventure, romance and fairy tale all wrapped up in one delicious movie, The Princess Bride.

Six Things You Can Learn in The Princess Bride movie:

1) Vocabulary words like ‘inconceivable’
2) A little history of the countries Florin and Guilder
3) The definition of R.O.U.S.
4) An exposition on the phrase, “As You Wish”
5) The truth behind the Dread Pirates Roberts’ identity
6) The origin of Iocane Powder

And many more.

The Princess Bride is a pivotal movie in The Life of Tim and Kathy. The children know the story but haven’t really invested the time like Tim and I have. The film came out before we met but is probably one of our first ‘couple movies’ where lines are quoted and scenes watched over and over again.

I know, other people bond over adventures (real ones, not just the kind they watch on the big screen), common interests (hey, the fate of Buttercup and Westley was very important to us), or perhaps spiritual and intellectual pursuits. Not us. We relate through movie quotes. Sad but true.

I first saw The Princess Bride at the ‘cheapie theater’ when I was home from college one summer. Do they still even have ‘cheapie theaters’ anymore? I think the price was $1.50 or something outrageous like that. Sure you had to wait in line (if the movie was popular) and the floor was sticky but the price couldn’t be beat. I went with my parents and my best friend and her boyfriend. I can’t remember if my brothers joined us – probably, we all spent most of the summer together. My folks were rather wary of the movie, “Just what is this about?” was the question of the hour. As I recall, Jodi’s boyfriend had already seen it and SWORE we would love it (he didn’t actually swear, you understand, after all, my dad is a pastor).

We went in skeptics and came out devotees.

I asked Tim if he remembered where he first saw The Princess Bride (he really should be writing this blog but he had a killer day at work and spent the evening with the darling 5th and 6th grade boys in his youth group. I am not Tim but I will try my best to do the movie justice). With the question, a dreamy gaze came over his eyes (the darling 5th and 6th grade boys awaiting his arrival at church became but a distant thought).

“Ah, yes. I was visiting my brother in Germany. I was passing through to do laundry.”

If I had them I would insert scenic photo of Tim’s travels through Europe the summer BEFORE he met me. Hasn’t been back since. Rats. I think I missed my chance to bum around Europe with him, backpacks loaded. I think I’m really too old to “bum around” anyway. Maybe we’ll make it to Norway before the cousins move.

“This is my story, remember Kathy?” The musing, dreamy expression has been replaced by an indignant look, directed at me.

“Where was I? Oh yes, doing laundry in Germany. Mark and Liz had a copy of The Princess Bride and I settled in to watch it between loads. Gotta pass the time somehow.”

Another enthusiast was born. Tim says he saw it 3 or 4 times that week alone.

Cue forward to the next summer. Tim and I have now met and he’s in another scenic location doing laundry. Okay, I just threw the laundry part in to see if you were paying attention. He was working at a camp in beautiful Colorado. While at Spring Canyon, Tim met up with another Princess Bride fanatic. The two of them took to quoting the famous scene between Westley and Vizzini. In quote dramatic fashion, they could quote the entire passage from “And now it is down to you and it is down to me.” all the way to Vizzini’s final laugh (complete with his dramatic death fall – sorry for the spoiler but the movie debuted in 1987). I was privileged to see these talented thespians perform when I went out to visit.

They repeated the scene at least once a day. I wonder if they could still do it now? We’ll have to record Joshua and Tim doing the scene and post it online. A project for the weekend.

Mind you, the real treasure in The Princess Bride lies in the book. The movie is wonderful, a classic, but the book is a true jewel. Author William Goldman presents the novel as an abridgment of an older version by “S. Morgenstern”. The book, in fact, is entirely Goldman’s work. Morgenstern and the “original version” are fictional and used as a literary device. All of which brings us to the “Reunion Scene.” From Wikipedia

In the novel’s commentary, Goldman claims that he has added nothing to the “original” Morgenstern text. However, he says that he did write one original scene, a loving reunion between Buttercup and Westley, but claims that his publisher objected to this addition. He invites any reader who wants to read the Reunion Scene to write to the publisher (formerly Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; now Random House.)

I was one of those people! I wrote to the publisher and requested the letter. I completely and totally believed Goldman’s story (wasn’t totally sure about Florin and Guilder but hey, I’ve already explained that history was one of my weakest subjects). I received a letter in return for my appeal. Instead of the extra scene, however, the letter detailed the legal problems that Goldman and his publishers encountered with the Morgenstern estate and its lawyer, Kermit Shog. The letter was too long to include in the blog (after all, I do my best to keep these blogs tight and concise) but you can read it here.

The movie remains very faithful to the book and captures the whimsy and delight of the story full of creative characters, high adventures, and true love. It’s hard to choose which one, novel or film, I enjoy more. What’s your vote?

With lunch behind us and an afternoon of reading ahead of us, I went to the garage and grabbed one of our multiple copies of The Princess Bride and determined to sneak in a chapter two today. I saved it until the very end. We worked hard – we did our Proverbs devotional reading, laughed over a book about a Chinese emperor (pointing out all the Proverbs we found to be true in the book), studied some of an illustrated book on the country of China, and read our two Sonlight novels (both set in China).

When all of that was completed, I picked up The Princess Bride and set about reading. I had to edit the intro a bit as it was long and a bit inappropriate for my audience (do I really need to read about Goldman’s interactions with a Hollywood starlet, even if the whole incident is rather harmless and completely fabricated?). Joshua loved the book. He “got” the humor and excessive use of parenthesis (probably because he reads my blogs which tend to lend this way as well, ahem) and had no trouble following the story (from unwieldy introduction to rather slow start about Buttercup).

Here he TRIES to keep from laughing.

not laughing
laughing 1

laughing 2

laughing 3

giving in to laughter

Rachel struggled a bit more but enjoyed the story. At one point Daniel gave up and went off to get his math. He returned, lesson in hand, and worked while listening to the story. He raised wide eyes when we came to the description of Prince Humperdink’s Zoo of Death.

daniel and rachel

Poor David and Sarah, they waited patiently for us to finish reading. With all of school and then the extra chapters from The Princess Bride, they suffered from serious neglect.

david and sarah

Look how they suffer!

Tim came down just as I was losing my voice and struggling to keep reading (three hours of reading aloud does that to a girl). He immediately jumped in and finished the chapter for me. Not content to just read a wee little bit, he went on to read another whole chapter. As he started to read the third one, I realized if I didn’t get up and start cooking it would be cold cereal for dinner. Tim and the kids followed me into the kitchen and continued reading.

tim reads

Now we have the book and the movie to finish.

Is it time for lunch yet?


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15 thoughts on “P365 – Day 59 (The Princess Bride)”

  1. What China books are you doing? How far are you into China? I’m doing India, and having a good time with it. Please will you set up a skype date for me and Daniel?

  2. “Princess Bride” is definitely a family favorite. I’ve been seeing it for as long as I can remember, but only read the book last year. I’m surprised Joshua didn’t get his claws into it before now.
    By the way, a little bird told me that Goldman’s writing a sequel, called “Buttercup’s Baby”. I haven’t had time to look into it, but you might be interested…

  3. Could I come live at your house? You have so much fun!!

    I didn’t know there was a book for The Princess Bride. How interesting.

    We love the movie, too!!

    Snow day today. whee. Love you each. AK

  4. For a moment, I thought I had stumbled onto the wrong blog. Twenty paragraphs without a picture? What could possibly have happened? “Oh, dear,” I thought. Kathy must be having technical difficulties with image uploading again … she’s gonna be cross with me. (For some reason, any and all technical problems are my fault, and she no longer heeds my “User Error!” accusations.)

    Then I scroll down a little and see five pictures without ANY text … not even a measely caption. I guess it is feast or famine, with Kathy and pictures.

    I guess the only thing I really need to say is, “As you wish, Kathy.” :)

  5. Isn’t Shackleton a brilliant movie?

    Princess Bride huh? We’d not heard of it before an American friend made us watch it with her once. She was bent double with hysteria ALL THE WAY THROUGH, but we sat unmoved through the whole thing. Must be an american thing, we said. Like Miracle Whip. And Cheese Wizz.

    Or maybe, it’s just that some things tickle some people’s funny bone and others done.

    Now, Spinal Tap? There’s a movie Jamie and I can’t watch without permanent smiles all the way through. So true to life. Our life, anyway.

    Glad you’re all having fun! It looks like your kids love it too!

  6. Dorothy – yes, we loved the Shackleton story. The book was fascinating and the movie amazing (putting images to the story was so fascinating for the children). How funny about your reaction to The Princess Bride. Did your children watch it? Did they like it? Do you think it’s an American thing or a general preference thing? Interesting that it was your Am. friend who introduced you to it. I think the weird humor of it all (half serious and half comedy) made us laugh but then dh LOVES historical romances so honor and chivalry and that sort of thing is right up his alley.

    I’ve never seen Spinal Tap. Note the Spinal Tap/Princess Bride connection as they are both directed by Rob Reiner. I bet you all watch the movie with rather knowing eyes. Ha!

  7. I read this with interest, thinking “I’ve never read nor seen The Princess Bride.” So I pulled up a google search and discovered, when I saw the picture of Andre’ the Giant and Mandy Patinkin, that I have seen the very end once. I’ll have to rent it now. That was funny about Dorothy’s reaction to the movie. I wonder if she thinks Monty Python and the Holy Grail is funny. I think it is uproarously so, but only when watched after 11 p.m.

  8. Ginger, I think it is fascinating the way humor differs across countries. So much of it is based on the familiar and idioms and cultural references. Tim and I took a humor class in our psychology studies in college. I would love to do some research on the way humor varies according to culture and nationality.

  9. We have a cheapie theater in town. I think it is $2.00 a person. It’s not the nices theater but it is definitly the cheapest! I also agree with your Aunt Kate – you have a fun house! Your kids are blessed!

  10. Personally, I think one’s impression of a silly movie is directly related to the age that you are when you first see it. I remember seeing UHF (and thinking it was hilarious) in college with a couple of well-liked roommates, low on sleep and high on caffeine in the middle of finals. Imagine my disappointment when I later showed it to Kathy, who thought it was rather dumb.

    Movies that seemed funny the first time (whether because of the viewer’s age, or the positive circumstances surrounding the viewing) are ever after seen with those rosy glasses — one tends to ignore the dumb aspects of the movie because you have already accepted that it is the way it should be (sort of a ‘suspension of intelligence’, a parallel concept to ‘suspension of disbelief’).

    All that said, I think that Princess Bride is a fairly ageless and clever movie, suitable for framing (or at least watching) by all. Your mileage may vary. :)

  11. Princess Bride has been a favorite for us since the first time my hubby and I saw it at.. *drumroll* a bargain theater in Texas. We also paid 1.50 a person.

    The movie is still hilarious, but we always felt the book was a bit uneven. The intro to Buttercup’s baby didn’t look too promising at all.

    I think the genius of the movie was more than the book. The casting & direction was extremely well done as well.

    There are very few films that are even close to as good as Princess Bride. Anything better would be inconceivable! ;)

  12. Princess Bride is a definate favorite in this house, although I did not realize that there was a book. I’ll have to check that one out a our library. Brian and I saw it ages ago…can’t remember when and the kids love it. It is a regular pick on family night.

    I love your blog, Kathy. You all seem to have so much fun and you tell the story of your life in wonderful words.

  13. Susan! How funny, a cheapie theater as well. See, some of these experiences are shared across the states. :) Way to work inconceivable into the comment section. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve run into, over the years, who know many of the lines from the movie. One of those quirky classics. They managed to keep the movie clean which adds to its appeal.

  14. Debbie – let me know if you like the book. It has a funny, wordy sense about it that makes us laugh.

    I am really enjoying blogging these days. It feels like I can share a bit of our busy life with friends and family who are far away.

  15. Hi Kathy,

    Yes, our kids saw it with us. We had fun watching our friend laugh her way through it but just couldn’t figure it out at all.

    But then, we’ve tied people to our sofa to watch Spinal Tap as we roll around crying with laughter whilst they can’t wait for it to finish, so it’s Just One Of Those Things.{g}

    Holy Grail? Nope not that funny, but then we loved Life Of Brian….

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