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I Want My Father Back


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I just watched The Princess Bride for the first time. It's a lovely film in so many ways, a charming homage to fairy tales and story telling, with an often delicious sense of humour and, among other sequences of note, a beautiful demonstration of fencing choreography.


One moment that particularly drew my attention and even, momentarily, took my breath away, came at the end of an action sequence.




Mandy Patinkin plays a Spaniard on a twenty year quest for vengeance against the villain who once slew his father. He has perfected his art with a sword in the meantime and has lived for the moment when he can use that sword to kill the cad that killed his father.


The final confrontation between the two finally occurs with the villain, played by Christopher Guest. As the duel progresses and it is apparent that Patinkin is vastly Guest's superior with a sword, Patinkin tells the villain to offer him money, something to spare him. Guest agrees, offering him anything that he wants.


Patinkin then plunges his sword into Guest's heart, with a memorable closeup of Patinkin's face as he says, "I want my father back, you son of a b i t c h!"


Patinkin would later state that he identified with his character during this scene, that, when he slew this screen villain, to him, at that moment he was somehow slaying the cancer that had taken his own father 15 years before.


And I think that a screen moment like that, that "I Want My Father Back!" moment, will register in the hearts of so many viewers. Many of us, perhaps even most of us, have lost someone in our lives that we would cry out to the heavens to have back with us if it could only be so.


A father, a mother, a sister, a lover, a child, a friend.


When Patinkin, even in a little celluloid fairy tale such as this film is, makes that pronouncement, he speaks, I feel, for so many.


I want my father back, too, Mandy. You are not alone.

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Thank you, lavenderblue and Sepiatone, as well as Dargo.


Amazing, isn't it, how a small moment in a film can quite suddenly and unexpectedly rip off that scar tissue that has built over an old emotional wound. I certainly didn't expect to experience it when I sat down to watch a fairy tale.


And, yes, I know I am not alone. So many of us carry this same pain with us.


That very pain, however, can sometimes change us for the better, I truly believe. In some it can create a greater empathy for the anguish of others at a time of loss. It can give some of us the ability to reach out to others in similar moments of distress in a manner in which we might not have been able to if we had not already been there ourselves.

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