Review: ‘As You Wish’ by Cary Elwes

I can’t speak for everyone, but I consider it a blessing. Clearly “The Princess Bride” has become a truly remarkable phenomenon. The film has literally millions of devotees. They know every line, every character, every scene. And, if they’d like to know a little bit more about how their favorite film was made, as seen through the eyes of a young actor who got much more than he bargained for, then all I can say is … As you wish. (9-10)

asyouwish_bookcover

I first watched “The Princess Bride” when I was in fourth grade. Back then, the TV was in my parents bedroom. So my mom, my brother and I lounged on the bed to watch what would become my favorite movie. Looking back now, I’m not sure what part of the movie resonated with me the most. I just knew that this movie was golden and that I would treasure it for the rest of my life.

I don’t have a favorite line from the movie — though if hard pressed, I’ll say the entire Miracle Max scene — and my mom gets a kick out of Fezzik saying “Hello, lady!” at the end with the four white horses. In my DVD collection, I have a regular version and a Blue-ray version. A couple weekends ago, I saw a late night showing of the movie at The Logan Theatre. It was just as magical as the first time I watched it. I may or may not be listening to the soundtrack as I type out this review of Cary Elwes’ “As You Wish.”

There’s not much to say about Elwes’ writing. It’s a little dry and a little cheesy. As I read through the chapters, it felt as if I were reading a really long essay written by someone in high school. This is not the next great memoir by any means. And I wasn’t expecting it to be.

I read it for the behind-the-scenes, tell-all information about my favorite movie of all time. I had no idea how much work truly went into the greatest sword fight scene of all time — when they weren’t filming a scene, Mandy Patinkin and Elwes were rehearsing. There were no stunt doubles (minus the gymnastics jumps).

I learned more about André the Giant. Even though André died in 1993, Elwes was able to capture his adventures riding André’s ATV. Or how André would keep Robin Wright warm in the chilly English countryside by putting his warm hand on her head.

The books also features commentary from the cast members, Rob Reiner, Andy Scheinman and William Goldman. My issue with the commentary is that it was spaced throughout the chapters and distracted from the narrative. At times, I was more excited to read the commentary rather than Elwes’ narrative. My co-worker had the suggestion that the commentary paragraphs should have been featured at the end of the chapters.

Reading Elwes’ behind-the-scenes memoir of being Westley was one of the easier reads and, cheesiness aside, definitely the most nostalgic read of my book challenge. If you’re a fan of “The Princess Bride,” pick up a copy. It won’t disappoint.

As I look through my pile of fan mail I know that even today this film continues to touch the hearts of so many children, teenagers, and adults around the world. We grow old but it doesn’t seem to. It has discovered the fountain of youth. It is still out there, expanding and growing in ways we could never have imagined, and in ways we can’t control. We don’t own it anymore. None of us do — not I, nor any of the other cast members. Not Rob Reiner, not Norman Lear. Maybe not even Bill Goldman. It belongs to everyone now. (239)

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