Tag Archives: Fantasy

Metaspirational – The Princess Bride

Okay, so.

Seriously, if you want to be a writer, or even if you want to want to be a writer, you need to make sure you’ve read the Princess Bride. I’m a big William Goldman fan ever since a good friend lent me the book ‘Which Lie did I tell?’ about his adventures as a screenwriter. On the back of that I fell in love with most everything I’ve seen of his. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid remains one of my all time favourite films.

But the Princess Bride, this really is what writing is all about. It’s been nonstop inspiration to me during this months nano, though I’m keeping it in the toilet so I can only read it either on the loo or whilst bathing. That way it doesn’t interrupt too much.

I know, I know, too much information…I’m that way inclined tonight it seems.

Anyway, basically, the whole metanarrative structure just can’t help but make you think about the way the book is written. (For those who don’t know, the story behind the books creation is that it’s actually a abridgement of a historical tale by a Florinese writer called Simon Morgenstern, for given values of the word ‘actually’. Goldman’s father told him the story as a child, skipping all the boring bits, and then, once grown up, he took it as a labour of love to find a copy and abridge it, including inserts on why he cut certain bits, and retelling elements of his own father’s telling of the story).

Everything draws you into to thinking about the writer’s thought process, and, to the wary reader, points out the subtle artifice at play throughout. But it does this without distracting from it.  In fact, throughout, the whole thing is littered with little rhythm and rhyme games, little teases and distractions. The rhythm of it is nearly always perfect, which makes it a dream to read out loud. I can’t wait to read it to my kids once they exist. And the ‘truth’ behind the book’s creation emphasises this moreso. By jumping us in and out of the narrative, our eyes our drawn in certain ways. Our attention is gained, and then sucked in, right in, until you’re in so deep that you’re crying or laughing almost steadily throughout. I’m on my third re-reading, and it’s still a thrill (not to mention the fact that I’ve seen the film about eight or nine times, I know the plot inside out). And it’s not even just that fondness of familiarity. It’s noticing more and more the games being played by the text.

I don’t want to start plucking examples out of it, because they work best within the context, and that context is so carefully constructed.

I dream of one day writing something as good as this, it demonstrates a mastery of storytelling on so many levels.

And everytime i read I learn lessons. It is a perfect guide to teaching how to make stories, because it is simultaneously a story about stories, and a story about tellings of stories.

There’s a lot of layers to that onion there. Turtles all the way down.

But seriously, read it, and you’ll want to write a book. In the same way that someone (Eno?) claimed that everyone who bought the original vinyl of the first Velvet Underground album started a band, or whatever rock apocrypha you want to talk about.

 

It’s inspirational, in so many ways. It’s also about real humans and real emotions, despite it’s fantastical fairy tale world.

And it’s all incredibly nano. The asides, the jump cuts, the self awareness. It’s how I most enjoy writing, and I just wish I could pull it off nearly as well as Goldman.

 

Whenever people ask me about my favourite book, I hope I remember to include Princess Bride, because it really is, for a whole bundle of reasons.

If you haven’t read it. Go read it. If you live in Brighton, I’ll lend you a copy as soon as I’ve finished reading it again. I’m almost there. Probably just one more bath or so.

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The Fountain – I actually felt like I was surrounded in beautiful golden light

Well, not quite, but this film did put me into an almost blissful state. Just warm and happy and at ease with the world. Smiles galore and a feeling like the air was flowing clearer around me.

So yeah, I guess I liked it.

It is indeed fairly baffling. I think I got more of the symbolic connotations of the narrative than I did the finer points of the plotline (we are talking three parallel lives of one Huge Ackman, and one of them takes place almost entirely in an interplanetary snowglobe). But I felt so much emotion and beauty in all of it. The sound (and music by Clint Mansell) was absolutely incredible. A couple of tiny shocks prepare you for the entire universe exploding in your face at one point.

And it all looked gorgeous. I was marvelling at the use of colour, light, dark and the way things were framed. Actually marvelling. At one point Huge (as conquistador) turns his head to leave one eye as the centre of the frame, just for a moment. It’s a perfect reflection of a constantly repeating visual motif, that just drops by slyly.

The acting was all solid, even when you’ve got an ex-x-man cuddling a tree, and while the plot may not exactly grip you (I watched it with Fanny and she felt herself drifting) if you just let it all wash over you you’ll be blown away anyway. The climax is frankly astonishing visually, though it takes a mind more lively than mine to tie up all the loose ends (although this may be me trying to complicate things…I do that with Lost too, occasionally getting excited by the more apocalyptic theories, the ones involving transhumanism and gnosticism). Though at the same time, I think I might have got it all in a way. It’s just a bit more open ended than that.

But yeah, it raises all the great questions about life and death, and how to deal with it.

Purely fascinating.

The thing that got me was the ‘explosions’. Not action film explosions, just things bursting out. Life from death and the road to awe.

It really is.

There’s not much more I can say without spoiling. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s pretty damn awesome in my book. It just put me at ease with the world (though Fanny found it a little depressing, guess it’s a matter of perspective).

So yeah, where I’m buried, plant a tree…that’s all I’m saying.