Public Historian Revisits Childhood During Historians at the Movies: The Princess Bride

February 18, 2021

Since I was a kid, I loved the film “The Princess Bride”, the fantasy film starring actors such as Cary Elwes and Robin Wright. The first time I watched this movie was when I was at a friend’s birthday party. I remember watching it so many times over the years since then. There were days that when I was not feeling well, I watched this movie. Most of the time, I watched this movie when I wanted a good laugh. My friends and I used to reenact scenes from the movie, and quote this movie on a number of occasions.

“Inigo Montoya: Fezzik, are there rocks ahead?

Fezzik: If there are, we all be dead.

Vizzini: No more rhymes now, I mean it.

Fezzik: Anybody want a peanut?

Vizzini: DYEEAAHHHHHH!”

I also bought the book the film was based on, and read that book many times including the sequel that was in my copy of the book. Plus, I loved watching the behind-the-scenes stories of filming this movie.

For Valentine’s Day, the Historians at the Movies Twitter conversation took a closer look at this film on DisneyPlus to talk about history and what time period the film portrays. When I heard about this, I was really excited, and I decided to write a post about this discussion.

It has been a while since I covered a Historian At the Movies, and if you want to read about the first experience I had, check out the link below after you read this one.

My husband and I participated in watching The Princess Bride and Historians at the Movies on Valentine’s Day. The memories came flooding back as we watched the film, and once again I had an awesome time tweeting with all of the participants. All of us had a lot of thoughts throughout the movie, and there was a lot of commentary on Twitter. For instance, the following are samples from the Historians at the Movies conversation:

We also answered questions to open discussions while we were making commentaries on the film. The first one was an introduction to what we liked most about the film, what our Valentine’s Day dinners are, et. cetera. I was going to answer each question, but I did not have the answer off the top of my head and there were thoughts I wanted to express about the movie itself. To answer the rest of the questions, it is hard for me to imagine any other actors in the roles and I have not thought about who would be good in the roles if I were to cast the roles today; my husband and I had Indian cuisine from our local Indian restaurant we ate at home.

        I also appreciated the discussion about what the time period this movie would be set in. In the tweet, I stated that based on the clothing I could see the film being set between the 15th and 16th century. Also, in response to other individuals’ tweets that point out it could not be past post-Renaissance I stated:

While my expertise is not in historical clothing, I thought it was consistent enough to not be jarring and they help distinguish between the story scenes and the scenes between the grandfather and grandson.

If you are interested in joining the discussions with Historians at the Movies, follow their website, Facebook page, and the conversations on Twitter using the hashtag #HATM.

What do you think of The Princess Bride? What time period do you think this film is set in? Are there moments from the film that are memorable to you? If you have not seen it, what movies are you nostalgic about?

Links:

A Public Historian’s Participation in Historians At The Movies

Historians at the Movies website

Historians at the Movies Facebook page

I’m on Buy Me a Coffee. If you like my work, you can buy me a coffee and share your thoughts. ☕ https://buymeacoffee.com/lbmfmusedblog

A Public Historian’s Participation in Historians At The Movies

June 20, 2019

I first became aware of history depicted in movies was when I was about nine years old and I heard about the movie Titanic starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet being released in theaters. I read books about the history of Titanic with a classmate of mine, and I began to become more and more interested in learning about the ship itself and the tragedy that occurred in her maiden voyage.  When I approached my mother about going to see the film, especially since a number of my peers were going to see it, she said no pointing out that it was not going to be historically accurate since it is focused on a love story (and of course she also told me that she did not approve of taking a nine year old to see a PG-13 rated film). The fact that it would not entirely be a historically accurate film was enough for me to not ask to see it again. Almost a decade later, I watched the film and while yes it was more focused on a love story between two fictitious Titanic passengers I was impressed with so much detail that was put in to make the ship as accurate as possible. I may revisit the film in a future blog post to go in depth of how the filmmakers approached historical depiction. Since then, I have always enjoyed watching films depicting historical events or stories taking place in specific time periods.

The reason why I bring up my childhood memory is because this past weekend I participated in a live tweeting discussion called Historians at the Movies. Hosted by Jason Herbert, a Doctoral candidate at the University of Minnesota focusing on Indigenous and Atlantic History, Historians at the Movies is an online community for everyone interested in history and films and historians on Twitter that live-tweet films every week using the hashtag #HATM. On Saturday June 15th, I participated in Historians at the Movies live-tweet of the film Carol which is about an aspiring photographer who develops an intimate relationship with an older woman named Carol in 1950s New York starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. Participants are asked to use Netflix to get access to the film. If people do not have a Netflix subscription, I think it is possible to still watch the film using other ways including owning or borrowing the DVD/Blu-ray and watching it on demand.

Without revealing any spoilers, I will share a few of my tweets reacting to the film. The following tweets are reactions to the details made in helping make the film set in the 1950s.

Lindsey Steward-Goldberg @Steward2Lindsey

It does a really wonderful job in setting up the time period the story takes place in, and it doesn’t need to have font telling us when it takes place #HATM

Lindsey Steward-Goldberg @Steward2Lindsey

My grandmother had a beautiful collection of clothing she saved and as kids my cousins, sisters, and I would play dress up and put on plays in Nana’s old furs, hats, gloves, scarves, etc. #HATM

In response to a tweet on happiness in 1950s families: It was definitely the perception people in the 1950’s we’re expected to strive for especially from the media but does not exactly reflect the reality of people’s lives in this point in time.  #HATM

Reaction to a department store depicted in the film: It must have taken a lot of research time to not only find out what dolls were sold in that time but finding the dolls or even creating their own dolls using the parts that were used creating them in the doll factories back then. #HATM

If interested in participating in future live-tweets with Historians At The Movies, join them throughout the rest of this month on Saturdays at 9pm using the hashtag #HATM. In July, Historians At The Movies will move to Sundays at 9pm.

As a public historian, I thought the concept of historical depiction in films is interesting and curious about the work filmmakers put into these type of movies. I included a link to the National Council on Public History’s definition of public history in the resources section for those new to the public history field. Now that I have a Master’s degree in Public History I wonder how much involvement did historians have in depicting historical events and stories taking place in a specific time period. I watch films keeping in mind that there are decisions all involved in making them they need to consider to make visual and technical sense to entertain the intended audiences. This past weekend’s live-tweet of Carol was an example of that. I see films and television shows that are set in time periods or depict moments in history are ways to bring attention to history and hopefully inspire viewers to learn more by visiting museums, reading books, watching documentaries, and other accurate resources available.

How do you feel about history being depicted in films and televisions? Do you believe it has an impact on the history that is being portrayed in these mediums?

Resources:

https://ncph.org/what-is-public-history/about-the-field/ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2402927/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1