Top 10 Reasons It Makes Sense That St. John Paul II Loved 'Princess Bride'
The news is terrible, the future worrisome. What better time to relax with Princess Bride?
In his new book about the making of the movie Princess Bride, Cary Elwes reveals some surprising fans the 1980s comedy-adventure movie has won. Elwes starred as Westley/Dread Pirate Roberts — and happens to be a practicing Catholic, too.
First: John Gotti. Director Rob Reiner encountered the boss of the Gambino crime family at a New York restaurant, and the Mafioso (in a far different accent from Inigo Montoya’s from the movie) called out “Hey! You killed my father. Prepare to die!”
Second, from mobster to saint — Pope John Paul II. When Elwes met him at the Vatican (who, ironically, he would later play in a biopic also starring Jon Voigt) the Holy Father posed for a picture then asked if he was from “The Princess and the Bride.” Elwes could barely get air to say “Yes.”
“Very good film,” said the Pope. “Very funny.”
So in the spirit of investigative journalism, the Hoopes family queued up the film and sought out the top 10 reasons Pope St. John Paul II, whose feast day the Church celebrates today, may have liked the film which many Americans have practically memorized.
1. John Paul liked that it was about the “nuptial meaning of the body.”
The title identifies its lead heroine by her royal nature and her nuptial relationship. You can’t get more Theology of the Body than that.
2. John Paul knows what “inconceivable” means.
It means having recourse to the infertile periods rather than acting against conception. Right?
3. John Paul wouldn’t have made the clergyman’s wedding mistake.
While we’re evaluating marriage through the movie, it is worth noting that John Paul’s view of marriage is much more profound than the Impressive Clergyman in the film who pronounces it a “bwessed awangement” and a “dweam within a dweam,” even as he fails to get the bride’s consent at the critical moment.
But John Paul was all about the deep meaning of marriage and the need for marital consent.
4. John Paul liked “As You Wish.”
Westley’s attitude of service to Buttercup is very John Pauline. Mary’s Fiat means, essentially, “be it done to me as you wish,” and Amen means, essentially, “as you wish.” John Paul liked both. “There is a profound analogy,” he once said, “between the Fiat which Mary said in reply to the angel, and the Amen which every believer says.”
5. The movie is all about “putting out into the deep.”
Several characters in the story follow John Paul’s advice to put out into the deep. Whether it be deep waters with shrieking eels, deep sand pits, or deep into the Fire Swamp, these are people who know how to “Have fun storming the castle.”
6. John Paul’s a poet. So is the giant Fezzik.
I’m not sure how well it translated into whatever language he saw it in, but who can resist this dialogue: Vizzini: “No more rhymes now, I mean it!” Fezzik: “Anybody want a peanut?”
7. Westley’s line about death and love echoed John Paul.
“Death cannot stop true love,” said Westley. “All it can do is delay it for a while.” John Paul II often said the same thing — “Love is stronger than death,” particularly with regard to the resurrection of Jesus.
8. John Paul echoed Westley’s line: “We are men of action. Lies do not become us.”
What Westley said to Count Rugen is also what Pope John Paul II said about making excuses: “An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded.”
9. John Paul understood “the sound of ultimate suffering.”
When Fezzik and Inigo hear “the sound of ultimate suffering” Inigo assumes it is Westley. “His true love is marrying another tonight, so who else has the cause for ultimate suffering?”
John Paul would agree. “We could say that suffering … is present in order to unleash love in the human person,” he said. Only “love gives meaning to suffering and death.”
10. Finally, John Paul actually personally imitated the Miracle Max part.
Miracle Max cured Westley when he was “mostly dead.” John Paul II, after his death, cured Floribeth Mora Diaz when she was nearly dead. “They said I only had one month to live and there was no hope,” she said. John Paul intervened and the miracle that followed led to his canonization.
There are other reasons John Paul may have liked it, of course. But the best reasons is probably the one he himself provided: the film is very good, and very funny.