A few months ago I watched the movie The Princess Bride for the first time and I instantly knew that I would have to read William Goldman’s book of the same title. Rumor had it that there were significant differences between the two, and I wanted to know the truth behind the classic book vs. movie debate. In this case, I don’t believe it’s a case of either/or; both mediums of telling this story are delightful, and I love them both for different reasons.
By far my favorite aspect of this book is the large amount of commentary from the narrator, who seems to be Goldman himself. From the very beginning, the reader is introduced to the story through the witty voice of Goldman. Not only does he provide a framework for the actual story, but his commentary throughout is hilarious. It adds personality and context to the narrative, even if everything isn’t one hundred percent factual. The outside narration is almost like an additional separate story in itself, and who doesn’t want more of Goldman’s entertaining charm?
The characters in The Princess Bride are phenomenal from all angles. No matter what kinds of characters you prefer reading about, there’s bound to be one that you end up rooting for.
+ Westley: Let’s not beat around the bush, here: Westley is clearly the character that I was most excited to read about. I love everything about him: his remarkable bravery, his unfailing loyalty to Buttercup, and even his constant reply of “As you wish.” If you’re looking for a dashing hero that will make your heart flutter, then look no further than this farm boy!
+ Inigo Montoya: I was astounded by the amount of information we learn in this novel about Inigo’s past compared to the what background the movie provides (which is practically none). I loved learning about why Inigo is the determined swordsman he is, as well as about his journey to meeting Fezzik. A better understanding of his past allowed me to appreciate Inigo so much more, and it made that one famous line infinitely more satisfying.
+ Fezzik: Oh, Fezzik. I love his clever rhymes, his sensitive side, and his faithful courage. I prefer his portrayal in the novel rather than that of the movie because the reader can see more of his inner personality beyond the outward stereotype of his bulky size.
+ Buttercup: To be honest, Buttercup is one of my least favorite characters, both in the book and in the movie. Although she does have more personality and agency in the novel, I would have liked to see her be more independent. I suppose she’s a characteristic female of a typical “damsel in distress” story, but it still would have been nice for her to break out of her shell a bit.
+ Prince Humperdinck: What an idiot. He’s definitely one of those characters that I can’t help but love to hate. I mean, he has a Zoo of Death in which he methodically keeps deadly animals in carefully organized levels in order to hunt and kill them for fun. If that doesn’t scream “evil psychotic prince,” then I don’t know what does.
Now, onto the more controversial part of this review: the book vs. movie discussion. As previously mentioned, I adore both forms of telling this superb story because they each have their advantages and disadvantages.
First, the book has much more commentary from the narrator, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It also has an additional section at the end titled Buttercup’s Baby in which Goldman extends the story beyond what we’re shown in the movie. Buttercup has a bit more personality in the narrative (though not much more, to be honest), and there is an impressive amount of background information about Inigo, Fezzik, the kingdom of Florin, etc. that the movie does not offer. Simply put, the original novel provides the reader with a fuller, more comprehensive story in general, as is usually to be expected from the book version.
However, the movie adaptation of The Princess Bride is fantastic as well. Though there is a lot less background information and input from the narrator, the viewer is rewarded with a much more fast-paced, suspenseful plot. There are some deviations from the original story line and a few small details that were changed, but nothing too major that detracts from the overall story. The cast is great, the special effects are cheesy enough to be considered good (it was released in 1987, after all), and exudes the same hilarious, warm, fuzzy vibe as does the novel.
Of course, I must give the movie some bonus points for Cary Elwes’ role as Westley. I don’t really think that one needs explaining, right?
Overall, reading The Princess Bride was such a delightful experience! I love everything about it, from its witty narration and heartwarming romance to its entertaining characters and the wild adventures on which they embark. If you’re a fan of the movie but have never read the novel, I highly recommend giving it a try! You won’t be able to put it down!
My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) :0) 5 out of 5
Would I recommend it to a friend?: Always!! This is one of those gems that everyone should read.
What are your thoughts on The Princess Bride? How do you think the movie adaptation compares to the original story? Let me know in the comments section below!
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