Film Review: The Princess Bride
In 1987, Rob Reiner released The Princess Bride, based off the 1973 novel of the same name by William Goldman. Starring Peter Falk, Fred Savage, Betsy Brantley, Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Chris Sarandon, Mandy Patinkin, Christopher Guest, Andre the Giant, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, Peter Cook, Mel Smith, Margery Mason, Malcolm Storry, Willoughby Gray, and Anne Dyson, the film grossed $30.9 million at the box office. Nominated for the American Film Institute’s lists of Top 100 Comedy Movies, Top 100 Movie Quotes and Top Ten Fantasy Films, as well as the Academy Award for Best Original Song, the film was placed at #88 for the Institute’s list of Top 100 Romantic Movies.
While a young boy is sick in bed, his grandfather tells him the story of Buttercup, a simple but beautiful farm girl, who enjoys ordering around the farmhand Westley. While the two of them realize that they truly love each other, fate keeps them apart when Westley is lost at sea. However, five years later, Prince Humperdinck decides to celebrate Florin’s 500th anniversary by marrying Buttercup and she reluctantly agrees believing she can never love again anyway. Later, she is kidnapped by a criminal trio consisting of a mastermind, a giant and the world’s greatest fencer with a man in black determined to stop them at any cost.
One of the most well-known and popular fantasy films of all time, The Princess Bride certainly lives up to its reputation. It’s an incredible film with a story that manages to perfectly hit every element, just as the grandfather in the framing device said it did. It wonderfully brings audiences a depiction of a couple where the woman continues to be ripped away from her true love and a man who fights for said love so much that he doesn’t even let being mostly dead stop him. What’s more is the film also makes great use of its supporting cast. It brings out a villainous duo with impressive characterization, seeing as the two of them seem to be good friends, as well as perfectly written sidekicks that are able to supplement the story without stealing the entire thing.
However, out of all the characters, the film notably did well in its presentation of a legacy character with The Dread Pirate Roberts. He’s got the reputation of never taking prisoners that’s assumed to mean he kills anyone who fights back, essentially making him a living legend to the people of Florin. But it’s precisely that reputation that’s allowed the mantle to be a legacy and passed on to other people, namely three others named Cummerbund, Ryan and Westley, who was spared by his description of his and Buttercup’s love. That passing the torch with the character interestingly helped Westley get back to Florin, find Buttercup and discover that she still loved him. The way Westley did so was also entertainingly heartwarming, with him insulting Buttercup and her supposedly moving on so quickly from his death, causing her to fire back, tell him to die and pushing him down a hill.
The above scene is actually just one of many heartwarming moments found throughout a film that’s laden with heartwarming moments, romantic or otherwise. One of the more romantic parts is when Miracle Max asks Westley when he’s mostly dead what his reason for living is and his only answer is true love, showing that the only reason he’s persevered for as long as he has is because of Buttercup. The interaction between Miracle Max and his wife, Valerie, is also a pretty notable considering when he relents and takes the job of reanimating Westley, she shows sincere affection. It’s in part because he’s doing the right thing, but also because her husband the miracle worker has come back from a funk after being fired. The final scene is also pretty heartwarming, seeing as the boy asks if his grandfather will read it tomorrow and all the grandfather says is “As you wish,” after a film that makes it a point of showing how “As you wish” means “I love you.”
On the other hand, the film is also a comedy and has more than a few funny moments, such as the scene where Westley, as the man in black, is engaged in a battle of wits with Vizzini. The scene continues to top itself throughout, with both of them throwing hilarious zingers and just humorously ends abruptly when Vizzini freezes while laughing with a grin frozen on his face and falls over dead. The aforementioned scene with Miracle Max has plenty of humor as well, from Max’s tangent about a Mutton, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich being the only thing better than true love to him stating that they’ll need a miracle to be able to storm the castle. Humperdinck also has some good moments, one subtle time being when he’s tracking Buttercup and stating that she’s alive and then adding that if she’s not alive when he finds her, he’s going to be very put out in a very deadpan tone. Honestly, listing every truly funny moment in the film would just be writing out the entire thing, seeing as the film’s humorous moments only stop when it gets heartwarming and romantic and even then the humor continues.
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