“As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride” by Cary Elwes and Joe Layden. Touchstone, 2014. $26.00, 272 pages.
To hear William Goldman tell it, S. Morgenstern wrote one of the all-time greatest stories in the history of literature. It just needed a bit of editing. So Goldman snipped chapters on etiquette and cut pages upon pages of descriptions of gowns until he presented the world with “The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure” or as some call it “the good parts version.” Except of course, none of it is true. S. Morgenstern didn’t exist, and “The Princess Bride” is entirely Goldman’s creation. And what a creation it is.
“Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles.” The book has something to please everyone, and when it was originally published in 1973, Hollywood came calling. Goldman, an Oscar winning screenwriter was no stranger to the film business, but this story, this story was special. It was his favorite creation, and he knew that bringing this tale to the silver screen wouldn’t be easy. Despite the popularity of the story, it would be nearly a decade and a half before “The Princess Bride” was brought to life.
“As You Wish” is the story of the making of a modern classic as told by Westley himself, actor Cary Elwes. From casting to sword training to the 25th reunion, Elwes takes us from the start of creating this genre defying fairy tale to the cultural phenomenon it is today. Full of anecdotes and rare insights, “As You Wish” is a must read for anyone who has ever snapped “Get used to disappointment,” exclaimed “Inconceivable,” or intoned “Mawwidge is whot bwings us togevew today.” It’s a glimpse behind the scenes of one of the most beloved movies of the twentieth century, and rather than dispelling any of the movie magic that made “The Princess Bride” a classic, it gives the film more charm, more appeal. By allowing the reader a peek at the love and dedication that went into bringing Buttercup, Westley, Inigo, Fezzick, and all the rest to life, Elwes has given us one of the best special features of all, the ultimate making of tale in “As You Wish.”
Rebekah Scott is a reference librarian at May Memorial Public Library. Visit us on the web at www.alamancelibraries.org.