Novel Films blogfest, Part Two

August 2, 2011

Okay, I already talked a bit about why I like or dislike certain movie adaptations of books yesterday, but for part 2 of the blogfest, I’m going to go into a bit more detail.

A good movie adaptation must be true to the core magic of the book, while taking advantage of the visual medium to add to it, and be willing to cut away the stuff that doesn’t necessarily fit within a movie’s limits.

In ‘The Princess Bride,’ when comparing the book to the movie, I always think of the segue between the Man in Black climbing the Cliffs of Insanity until he duels Inigo Montoya. In the book, Inigo has a long flashback while he watches the stranger climbing, thinking about his father, how the six-fingered man came to his father’s shop with a commission, and then killed his father with the sword rather than paying. How as a young boy Inigo challenged the six-fingered man to a duel, but lost, trained and studied fencing as he grew up, and signed on with Vizzini to support himself as he searched for his revenge.

It’s covered in some considerable detail, and really takes the reader out of the main storyline, even though it’s great material.

In the movie, Goldman makes a choice which would probably have been better in the book, and is amazing in the movie with Mandy Patinkin and Cary Elwes – after he agrees to lift the Man in Black to the top of the cliff, Inigo offers him a chance to rest before fighting for his life, and awkwardly asks if he has six fingers. This breaks the ice between them, and Inigo tells the important details much more briefly, with the Man in Black reacting to his history.

It serves as a bonding moment between the two characters, foreshadowing how they will be comerades in arms on the same side by the climax, and at the same time it doesn’t detract in the same way, because Inigo and the Man in Black are sitting right there, on the cliff-top, swords at their sides, and so we’re reminded that the swordfight is going to be starting any minute.

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