Thursday, January 5, 2006

The Princess Bride, William Goldman

Title: The Princess Bride
Author: William Goldman
Rating: Good

If you've seen the movie The Princess Bride then you know the story: grandfather reads to sick grandson a story about a beautiful but poor girl who falls in love with a handsome but poor farm boy. The farm boy has to make his fortune in the world before he can marry the girl, so... oh, wait. Anything more would be a spoiler for those who haven't seen the movie or read the book. And I don't want to spoil it for you.

Let me say this, then. The book, which was written before the movie (book: 1973; movie: 1987), has many of the same devices in it that the movie does. I found that very amusing, actually. It (the book) is a bit of fluff, to be honest. It's a fairy tale, and it reads very quickly. The same plot holes that exist in the movie also exist in the book. However, it, like the movie, is a lot of fun. It's a very quick read, and kept me in my chair and chucking, so I'd call it a success.

What I found most interesting were the differences between the book and the movie. This isn't an "internal" story, where the author gets into the heads of his characters in any depth. It's an action-adventure-comedy, and that makes the transition from book to screen much easier, I'd guess. That said, there are differences between the two, and noting them as you read this is interesting. As an aside, the author - William Goldman - also wrote the screenplay for the movie.

If you've ever considered writing a screenplay, I suggest watching the movie and reading this book, then sit down and carefully analyze the differences. If you note what had to be changed to turn a 283 page paperback into a 98 minute movie, I suspect you'd learn a lot. The movie is #120 on IMDb's current top 250 list, so it's probably a good movie to study, if that's your thing.

In short, a fun, quick book, and a chance to learn a bit of craft if you so desire.