So today’s book review is a little different than my usual — that’s right, folks, we’re venturing into non-fiction land!
I’m notoriously bad about reading non-fiction. Give me a couple of YA books and I’ll happily read them within the space of a week, but hand me a non-fiction book, and you’ll see me slog through it at a glacial pace because I feel like I’m reading for a class. Somewhere along the line, my love of learning never made the leap to allowing me to find enjoyment in non-fiction, which puts me in serious danger of damaging my nerd cred. Sigh…we’ll get there someday.
And I must admit, while today’s review is indeed about a non-fiction book, it’s all about the making of a fictional story, so in a way, it barely counts (so I haven’t made that much progress, I guess??). Anyway! As I was saying…our book of the day is As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes. It tells the behind-the-scenes story of filming The Princess Bride, through the eyes of none other than the Man in Black himself.
In the book, Elwes chronicles his time with The Princess Bride from beginning to end, starting from reading for the part of Westley for director Rob Reiner and producer Andy Scheinman, all the way until the film has wrapped and Elwes finds himself on an impromptu pub crawl with Andre the Giant. Interspersed throughout the book are sidebars containing quotes from others involved with the movie — anything from tidbits from Rob Reiner about the challenges and joys of making the film, to quotes from Wallace Shawn in which he tells about his rampant fear that he would be replaced by Danny DeVito the entire time he was shooting his scenes, to Mandy Patinkin talking about his devotion to learning fencing for the film and how much it meant to him, to the sheer warmth and wonderfulness that Andre the Giant exuded at all times, to all sorts of other great little nuggets of behind-the-scenes info that you can’t get elsewhere.
To put it simply, this book is absolutely delightful. It’s both a trip down an extremely pleasant stretch of memory lane and a chance to be a part of the shenanigans that went on throughout the making of the film. To me, it felt a lot like watching the special features from the Lord of the Rings films, but in book form, and it was glorious. It was everything I ever wanted to know about what it was like to be a part of making The Princess Bride (and then some!). My one criticism is that Elwes’ quips and quotes can feel a little dad-joke-y from time to time…but really, this just adds to the overall charm.
I would recommend this book to any fan of The Princess Bride, whether you’ve just seen it once, or whether you’ve lost count of how many times you’ve rewatched it (as I have). And even if you haven’t seen the movie but have an interest in filmmaking in general, this is a great one for getting a sense of what it’s really like to be part of making a film with so much heart, humor, and unanticipated staying power.
Have you read this lovely memoir? Is it on your list? If the latter, I encourage you to get to it and have fun storming the castle!
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