Thirty years ago, director Rob Reiner brought to the silver screen a film based on the 1973 novel written by William Goldman. Not only was Reiner a huge fan of the author but felt this novel was the best thing he had written and did everything he could to turn it into a movie. While the screenplay was being kicked around Hollywood by different people, Reiner managed to snag it after he had a one-on-one with the author and received backing from Norman Lear.
Keeping to the original idea of having the film feel more like a novel, the story begins with the Grandson (Fred Savage) home sick in bed. The Grandfather (Peter Falk) comes to check in on him trying to lift his spirits. To do this, he chooses to read him a story. But what young boy wants to hear a book read to him when he could be playing video games? With some reverse psychology and a little bit of convincing, the Grandfather manages to tell him one of the greatest love stories of all time.
The tale begins with the farm boy Westley (Cary Elwes) who falls for the fair maiden Buttercup (Robin Wright). Eventually, he manages to win her over and the two dream of the future together. But a farm boy needs to make a living so he sets off on the high seas to make his fortune. The high seas are a dangerous place for a man and his ship is sunk by the Dread Pirate Roberts.
Five years pass and the heartbroken maiden, who lost her one true love catches the eye of Prince Humperdink (Chris Sarandon), who convinces her to marry him. Before they can be married, Buttercup is kidnapped by a band of mercenaries. The group is led by the brains, Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) and his two henchmen, Fezzik (Andre The Giant) who is the muscle of the group, and Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), the skilled Spanish swordsman. Vizzini plans to kill the future princess near the border of Florin and Guilder to start a war between the two nations. As the abductors near the Cliffs of Insanity, they find that they are being followed by a lone man all dressed in black. Is he there to rescue her? Is he there to kidnap Buttercup for himself? What exactly are his intentions and most importantly, who is he?
By now we should all know the answers to those questions. While the film was not a huge box-office phenomenon during its initial release, it has become a classic and a favorite of millions. Not only does it have swashbuckler action, and the ultimate love story, but it is one of the funniest films of all time.
That being said, there’s no reason to critique the movie at this point. What’s left to discuss is how the overall Fathom presentation turned out. In the theatre I attended, there were approximately 80 people there. The crowd was a good selection of age ranges, with a lot of older parents bringing in their adult children. Most of the audience were fans and happy to finally see the film in a theatre. I have to admit that even for myself that was enough to make me happy. But as with other Fathom events, there were some extras. Thirty minutes before the film began, there was the traditional trivia questions posted on the screen, such as Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits wrote the soundtrack; Billy Crystal adlibbed most of his lines; and Courtney Cox, Sean Young, Carrie Fischer, Meg Ryan, and Uma Thurman were all considered for the role of Buttercup. Shortly before the film started and after it ended, there were brief interviews with director Rob Reiner who discussed the filmmaking process, how they went about gathering the cast, and humorous on-set anecdotes.
I’ve been to several Fathom events and it did not quite live up to the standards I’ve come to expect. The number of trivia questions before the film started were only a handful and the rest of the time was filled with a barrage of commercials, some of them looked like they were having trouble buffering correctly and looked choppy and unfocused. The interview also felt lacking as the only person involved was Reiner even though the interviewer mentioned talking to the rest of the cast about various topics. It would have been nice to have some more interviews or at least some explanation as to why the rest of the cast wasn’t there. Even with these small deficiencies, it was a fun experience to see something I have only watched on television on a big screen and well worth the time and effort.