Sometime in my adulthood, I finally watched The Princess Bride. I watched it reluctantly, for after so many years of hearing so many boast of its wonders, I had come to believe it wasn’t possible for a movie to be that wonderful. It took just one viewing for me to change my opinion.
Over the years, it has remained a cult classic. Its starring cast has carved out permanent spots in many a heart. And the scripting? So clever, we’re still quoting lines some 25 years later. One of the most infamous lines was spoken by the character Inigo Montoya, portrayed by Mandy Patinkin:
“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
These 13 words aren’t anything particularly profound. But they were repeated six times throughout the movie—and countless times since. In a recent interview, Patinkin explains that his most well-known line, while iconic, isn’t his personal favorite. Watch the clip here.
Patinkin’s commentary on his favorite line stunned me and bears noting in print—for by his own confession, even Patinkin did not truly hear it—take it in and grasp the depths of it—upon his first encounter all those years ago:
“For me, it’s the most potent line in the whole film, and that line is: ‘Is very strange. I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it’s over, I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.’
“I love that line, and I love it for all of us, because the purpose of revenge, in my personal opinion, is completely worthless and pointless. And the purpose of existence is to embrace our fellow human beings, not be revengeful, and turn our darkness into light.”
Although it may be just a line in an old movie, it carries a timeless truth—one that most of us could readily attest to in our own hearts: revenge will steal your life until you don’t know any other way to live.
The revenge business comes upon us in our most vulnerable moments, after we’ve been betrayed or slandered or snubbed or mistreated. It whispers a dark purpose to us, a way to gain back the power that’s been stolen from us. Revenge gives us purpose, and strength, and courage—of a kind, and for a time. But rearranging our lives around someone who hurt us is “completely worthless and pointless.” Eventually, the revenge business will dry up, and it will take our revenge-driven purpose, strength, and courage with it. Revenge will drop us off in that dark, vulnerable place, right where we started. Patinkin’s encouragement for us to turn the darkness of revenge into light speaks of the beauty of the Gospel to bring the light and life of Jesus to the dark and dead places in our lives.
Preach it, Inigo.