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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Musing Pictures: The Princess Bride

"The Princess Bride" was a film that I was introduced to fairly late, probably by someone who said to me "What? You haven't seen 'The Princess Bride'? Go see it!" I don't remember when the first time I saw it was, but it was on TV last night, and I found myself quite engaged by it, yet again.

What really, truly struck me about it this time around was its sheer technical simplicity -- and the fact that it still "works" despite its technical simplicity.

Here's what I mean.

Andre the Giant plays a giant. the people with the swords are people with swords. The sky is a painted backdrop most of the time (especially at the top of that cliff, early on) but we don't care, because we're too busy laughing at lines like "I am not left handed".

There is plenty in "The Princess Bride" that doesn't look real, and that isn't meant to look real. Rob Reiner is so confident in William Goldman's script that he just lets the sets do what they've done in theater for thousands of years -- imply a location for us so that the story (the STORY!) takes precedence.

I wish today's special effects films would take a note from films like "The Princess Bride". Peter Jackson, for example, spends too much time admiring his own creations in his films (and yes, although I did like the new "King Kong", he's very guilty in that film, as well), and Lucas, unfortunately, since he spent twenty years selling his special effects innovations via ILM, does little more than showcase his technology in his latest "Star Wars" films. Spielberg, along with (possibly) the much younger Shyamalan, seems to know how to weave high-end effects in to an engrossing story (see "Indiana Jones" or "Jaws", or, for a more subtle example, "Minority Report"), but I can't really think of anyone else who does that well. Maybe Joss Whedon? He's too new to tell (and I'm still irked by that line about the "thirty coin" quip that the token Jew in "Serenity" mutters).

-AzS

1 comment:

menachem said...

You linked me. That was sweet. Maybe I should link you. This comment is dumb. Abort.