I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, about the things that have shaped my taste. I didn’t just pop out as a wonderful encyclopedia of nerd knowledge. Many things led me there.
Like other people my age, I watched Saved By The Bell and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I played Pokemon, listened to the Spice Girls and read Harry Potter.
But these were tiny drops in the bucket of my nerdiness. There were three other things that got me to the point where those could have any kind of impact.
Those three are Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and perhaps less obvious, The Princess Bride.
If you’ve never seen The Princess Bride I want you to stop reading my blog.
Seriously, I’m not kidding. You think I’m kidding? I’m really not. Stop reading right now and WATCH THE PRINCESS BRIDE!
The Princess Bride might be the greatest movie of all time. It has absolutely everything you could possibly want in a story. Pirates, fencing, revenge, true love and also it’s hilarious.
We still watch it all the time in my house, but it was one of those movies that I don’t even remember watching for the first time. My dad, my brother, my sister and I used to go to the video store on rainy Saturdays. Sometimes we would rent new things, but usually we would just rent the same movies over and over again. The Land Before Time, all of the Star Wars movies, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, random “collections” of Ninja Turtles and Jem, The Sandlot, Rookie of The Year, A League of Their Own, and The Princess Bride.
As we grew up, we watched it hundreds of times. We quoted it incessentaly, it’s even become a code word in our house, (due to a long drawn out story where my father was watching it on Cinemax, fell asleep and when my mother came back in to their room, Cinemax had, erm changed programming, shall we say.) an honor really only bestowed on one other pop culture element, Bruce Springsteen’s “Rosalita,” (leaving Mass after communion and before the final blessing, as if one were to leave a Springsteen concert before the final encore of “Rosalita.”)
The Princess Bride taught me what good fantasy can do. Fantasy is about transcending setting to tell universal truths. (The Lord of The Rings: No matter how small, any person can change the fate of all. A Song of Ice And Fire: Conflicts are often complicated and have many sides, there is no black and white, and you know nothing Jon Snow. Harry Potter: All you need is love.) And The Princess Bride teaches us that Stories are important. It isn’t that True Love will always conquer.
Obviously, the True Love (that capital letters are important) between Westley and Buttercup is important, but, The Princess Bride is a satire of fairy tales, and as I’ve mentioned before, sometimes satire can be just as good as the real thing. And when the message of the story is that the story is the most important part, the tone of that story matters less. Besides, is Westley defying death over and over again for the love of Buttercup less astounding because they’re in a satire? Is Inigo’s righteous quest for revenge on his father? Is the magic performed by Miracle Max less amazing because he’s played by Billy Crystal?
Because in the end, they’re all just stories aren’t they? That’s what I learned from The Princess Bride. In the end, it’s about the story. Don’t forget that The Princess Bride is a movie based on a book, who’s entire framing device is that it’s the author’s most beloved book from childhood. In the film version, it’s a grandfather reading it to his sick grandson. It’s about the idea that a story can change us, down deep.
I like that message. It makes me feel warm inside.