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Film Review – The Princess Bride Published on: July 7, 2020

The Princess Bride (PG, 1987)

More than thirty years ago, The Princess Bride achieved a cult following, which remains to this day. The proof of the film’s popularity can be seen by how endlessly its lines are quoted.  “Have fun storming the castle” and “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die” are probably two of the movie’s most quoted lines. If you’ve actually seen it, you can understand why it still has such an impact on our culture

Set in the magical land of Florin, The Princess Bride tells the story of two people who share a love so strong it can overcome even death. Five years after her true love Westley is killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts, Buttercup is chosen by Prince Humperdinck to be his bride. While out riding, she’s captured by three men: the devious Sicilian Vizzini; the expert swordsman Inigo; and the kind-hearted giant Fezzik. They’re on a boat headed for the land of Guilder when they spot a mysterious masked man pursuing them. The masked man follows them up to the Cliffs of Insanity where he’s forced into a duel with Inigo, then a wrestling match with Fezzik, and lastly, a battle of wits with Vizzini to save Buttercup. Once she’s free from her kidnappers, the masked man reveals to Buttercup that he’s actually Westley. Their happy reunion is cut short though when they spot Humperdinck close by. To escape, they enter the Fire Swamp. Despite all the dangers lurking within – like the Rodents of Unusual Size – Westley successfully leads them to safety. Unfortunately, Humperdinck is waiting for them and he forces Buttercup to come back with him in order to spare Westley’s life. Of course, Humperdinck has no intention of keeping his word. He sends Westley to the Pit of Despair where Westley is tortured to death – or so we’re left to believe. However, as Westley tells Buttercup, death can’t stop true love, only delay it a little awhile.

Based on the novel by William Goldman, The Princess Bride is both a parody and a homage to the fairy-tale genre. It’s a perfect blend of humor, wit, action, fantasy, and romance.  The most striking thing about The Princess Bride is the way Goldman frames his narrative – as a story within a story. The tale of Buttercup and Westley is being told by a grandfather to his sick grandson. Along with the audience, the grandson is introduced to the story and its unforgettable characters, and despite his initial reluctance, he is affected by it; so much so that he asks that his grandfather return to read the story again.

The film certainly owes some of its success to the actors, like Robin Wright (Buttercup), Cary Elwes (Westley),  and Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya). However, the most memorable and hilarious performances, I think, are the cameos: Billy Crystal, unrecognizable as the wizard Miracle Max, and Peter Cook as the minister. These scenes may be short, but both actors are priceless in them. Cook’s speech about “mawwiage” and “twue wov” will definitely put a smile on your face.

While a lot of time has passed, The Princess Bride continues to earn acclaim, gaining fans across the world. I believe that Goldman’s exemplary storytelling deserves the credit for this. He has created the perfect fantasy movie. It has it all: romance, sorcery, intrigue, and sword-fighting. Even more, it has a story that can appeal to all generations. Children and adults alike can find something that they enjoy. In my opinion, The Princess Bride should be seen at least once in a person’s lifetime.

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