Monday, July 30, 2012

Question for the Week of July 30-Aug 5: Princess Bride Countries

What's so odd about the names of the two nations in The Princess Bride?
Sure, it's been two weeks since I tackled a Question about The Princess Bride, but this is a weird little fact I noticed years ago, and I keep forgetting to post it. Let me get this out of the way now before moving on.

One of the funny things about this great romantic comedy is how familiar and unfamiliar it is. After all, we can't really get a sense of where this pic takes place, because they have both magical monsters and Sicilians. How can you have a world that's so impossible, but clearly references real-world things, and yet only mentions a familiar nation once, in passing?

Throughout tPB, tho, we keep hearing the names of the two major countries in the story: Guilder and Florin. About 8 years ago, I was watching clips from the movie, and the word "florin" struck a chord for some reason. So I decided to research both names. Prince Humperdink is from Florin, and wants to murder Buttercup and use her death as a pretext to war with Guilder.

I LOVE that the other guy is named "Tyrone."

When I was done, all I could do was laugh and say, "thank heaven I used to read old literature so much!" Why? Because they're both the names of out-dated gold coins!

The "Florin" was first minted in Florence, in the 13th Century. The name was eventually adopted by other nations for their own currencies. And, although the Netherlands also had called their currency which they called "Florins," their official coin, from >the 17th Century to 2002 was called a "Guilder."

The names of these nations - Guilder and Florin - are used in both the novel and the motion picture.

I was laughing at William Goldman's using these names for his totally-fake-but-still-Renaissance-era nations. I also like the impossibility of it all - for the Netherlands to wage war against Florence would involve a whole lot of marching (or sailing, for that matter).

Of course, I can't pat myself on the back too hard. Although this factoid is absent from the movie's wiki page, some thorough buggers included it in the book's Wiki article (check the last few sentences to the section I linked to) as well as the picture's IMDb Trivia page. Yes, someone beat me to this astounding revelation - but maybe it never occurred to you, and it might make you smile, just as it did me.

Please enjoy this totally creepy-sounding text-to-speech video.

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