Upon first finding this book at Target under Best Sellers 5+ years ago, I was caught by the unique subtitle: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride. For real? I thought. I began to read and just couldn’t stop until my mom told me it was time to go. I kept thinking about the book until I finally purchased it a year later. I began it and then stopped once I decided to serve a mission for my church and didn’t pick it up again until three years later. HOWEVER, I am so glad that I finally did. Rarely do readers get memoirs where actors, let alone classic ones like Carey Elwes, reflect upon their experience of one given project in such a detailed way—at least, rarely to my reading eyes.
This memoir not only contains the magical themes that the story of The Princess Bride itself emulates—“fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…”—but also about how the actor who played our beloved Westley filmed certain scenes, his relationships with other actors, the grueling yet rewarding hours of sword-training, and his deep respect for the movie and everybody who contributed to make it the memorably quotable and feel-good film it was. Carey reflects upon his admiration of the director Rob Reiner’s positive and respectful attitude towards cast-members and staff, “falling in love” with Robin Wright who played Buttercup, the epic sword fight with Mandy Patinkin who played Inigo Montoya, his real-life friendship with the gentle giant Andrè, the hysterics involved with working with Billy Crystal as Miracle Max, and of course, his respect and appreciation for the writer of the story William Goldman.
In Carey’s story the reader will learn about the epic stunts and behind-the-scenes tricks that the makers of the film used to capture certain scenes. If the reader is worried about the “magic” being ruined in any way by reading this book in that regard, then maybe they should not read it. But that is my only disclaimer to those who wish to read this book. If the reader has no qualms about that, then I say to go for it!
One thing I appreciated in this book, was how it positively reflected past events and did not contain complaints about the actor’s experience. I’m sure there were many days of downheartedness—a few of which he touches upon, such as his fear of not getting the character right—but the light-hearted and respectful way he portrays his experience is something that I think more writers should do. He also includes blurbs of quotes from other actors/workers on the film which reiterates what, as Christopher Guest, the actor who played the villainous 6-fingered man in the film, comments in the book,
“…Everyone gets to do something that’s memorable in the movie. That’s very unusual and it speaks to the strength of the script…if all the parts are good and they’re done well, it’s going to be so much better than having just two stars and weaker supporting roles.”Blurb from Christopher Guest, As You Wish, pg. 199
I also admire how Carey ties in the importance of the story with his relationship with his own grandfather, adding to the real-life inspiration this story gives to audience-members of all ages. Like he remarks in the book about how The Princess Bride was meant for audiences both young and old, this memoir, albeit a bit long for a Middle Grade reader, would be beneficial for audience members of all ages, too. No swearing or inappropriate behavior is mentioned (though a couple of times inferred by Billy Crystal), and there are hilarious anecdotes about some humorous situations that occurred, so I say everybody who has watched The Princess Bride and enjoys the satire contained therein to give it a go.