Sometime in October, 1987, I was a high school sophomore, and I took my new girlfriend to see The Princess Bride. I assume I was thinking that it sounded like a nice, romantic movie, and thus a good choice for not only our first movie together, but honestly, the first movie I was ever taking a girl to at all. But to be honest, I don’t recall what I was thinking, because I don’t actually remember the date.
Many, many years later, that girlfriend, who was now my wife, and I were watching the movie again at home, and at one point I casually said, “I wonder what year this came out?” Needless to say, she still hasn’t let me live that down.
I may not remember the date very well (or at all), but I do remember not being terribly impressed by the movie. I liked all of the medieval-era fantasy bits, but I found the constant interruptions by Fred Savage and his grandfather (played by Peter Falk) to be annoying. But on rewatching it years later, I came away with an entirely different viewpoint. I’m going to chalk up those initial impressions to me being young, and also to the fact that I was probably more focused on being nervous on the date and so not really able to relax and lose myself in the movie.
Today, I will readily rate the film as one of my all-time favorites. It’s one of those movies that I’ve now seen so many times that whenever I get the chance to see it, it feels more like a visit from an old friend. And like many, many others, lots and lots of lines from the movie have made it in to my lexicon.
This year, TCM is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the movie with a limited re-release in theaters in conjunction with theater special events company Fathom Events, and on Sunday night, I went to see it with my family. My kids have seen it before, but never in the theater, and of course my wife and I haven’t seen it in the theater since that night 30 years ago, so there was something special about seeing it this time around.
It’s definitely worth seeing on the big screen. While it’s fun to see some reminders to the ’80s in Savage’s bedroom–the poster on the wall of the Chicago Bears player known as “The Fridge,” the He-Man toy on his headboard, the Burger King promotional glass from The Empire Strikes Back–it’s one of those movies that just doesn’t seem to age. Yes, we frequently see much older versions of Mandy Patinkin in Homeland and Robin Wright in House of Cards, but even that isn’t enough to take us out of this wonderful vision Rob Reiner created from William Goldman’s book. (Goldman also wrote the screenplay.)
This also isn’t some kind of special director’s cut or anything like that. There is an introduction and a post-credits interview with Reiner that’s worth seeing, but otherwise, it’s just the movie you know and love.
And there’s a bit of good news here, too: you still have a chance to see the movie again, as this special re-release will be playing again in theaters this Wednesday. So do yourself a favor. Even if your kids have already seen the greatest sword fight ever filmed. Even if they get it when you send them off to school with “have fun storming the castle!,” and already know what you mean when you say, “as you wish,” clear your schedule, clear your kids’ schedule, and go see it on the big screen. It’d simply be inconceivable to miss it.
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A bitter beginning: becoming a ronin.