THE PRINCESS BRIDE - Storming the Castle is Fun!
“The Princess Bride” is a delightful twist on the concept of a fairy tale
The Princess Bride
Realease Date: September 25th, 1987
Date of My First Viewing: June 18th, 2019
I have said it many times already, but the whole point of the “Movies New to Me” project is to get people to say, “YOU’RE JUST NOW GETTING AROUND TO WATCHING THAT!?” or something along those general lines. That reaction is what I strive for because it allows others to open up about their movie watching history. Often I touch upon a film that is incredibly special or important to someone, and they find a reason to gush about their favorite movie. This is what I love about the project, and this is why I finally decided to sit down and watch “The Princess Bride”, the 1987 take on fairy tales by Rob Reiner. I feel this is one of those films that is going to generate quite the response… or at least I hope it does. This is also where I feel an “As you wish” would be appropriate as well.
For those who need a refresher course, “The Princess Bride” is a movie that tells a story within the film itself. The framing device is that a young boy (Fred Savage) is sick so his grandfather (Peter Falk) comes to read to him. The boy is initially turned off by the story as he thinks it’ll be a romance with lots of kissing. The grandfather assures him there is a lot of other stuff in the book, like fencing and fighting and so on and so forth. Trying to please his grandfather, the boy agrees to listen as the tale of “The Princess Bride” is read to us all.
This is where I’m going to jump in and say why I avoided “The Princess Bride” all these years. As a kid when this film was released, I probably had the mindset of Fred Savage’s character. I didn’t want to see a fairy tale. I wanted to see sharks eat people or Mikey and his friends find pirate gold. Those were the type of movies I was watching at the time. As I got older, I picked up more and more of the key phrases from the film, so I knew the basic plot. I just never found the time to watch it. Hell… one of my favorite pop-culture mashup t-shirts is take on the “Andre the Giant Has a Posse” street art campaign but with Andre as Fezzik.
The story of “The Princess Bride” is about Buttercup (Robin Wright) and how she falls in love with a farm boy named Westley (Cary Elwes). Westley leaves to make his fortune so he can marry Buttercup, but we are told he is killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts. The film then jumps five years to inform us that Buttercup is engaged to Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), heir to the throne of Florin. Buttercup, though, still longs for Westley and is reluctant to marry Humperdinck.
The engagement is thrown for a loop when Buttercup is kidnapped by the motley crew of Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), and Fezzik (Andre the Giant). Their plot is thwarted when a mysterious Man in Black follows them and takes Buttercup for himself. Buttercup becomes enraged at this, thinking her new abductor is the Dread Pirate Roberts but, ultimately, comes to find out it is actually Westley. We all then find out that Prince Humperdinck and his associate, Count Rugen (Christopher Guest), was the one behind Buttercup’s abduction in the first place.
There are so other key elements to the plot, such as Montoya’s burning revenge for the murder of his father, but this covers all the high points. The movie is a fairy tale, after all, so you can kind of decipher and figure out where things are going even if you have never seen the movie. What makes “The Princess Bride” so memorable and so beloved by its fans is the fact that it takes all the concepts of a standard fairy tale and presents them with a fresh, well fresh for 1987, approach. There are is a lot of subtle jokes throughout the film, while the framing device of the young boy and his grandfather allows to ask the questions the audience might have in their own minds. The world building that is done with the various descriptive names of locations, wild beasts, and assorted characters also serves to strengthen the overall presentation of “The Princess Bride”.
The real strength of “The Princess Bride” is, hands down, the cast. Robin Wright is wonderful as Buttercup, Cary Elwes does a fabulous job playing off her, and Mandy Patinkin gives everything in his performance as Ingio Montoya, who probably does have the most memorable line in the entire movie. That’s not even scratching the surface when you think about it. The cast is super deep and filled with Reiner’s friends, who all buy into the concept and deliver memorable performances big and small. A special word must be said about Andre the Giant’s role as Fezzik. I had always thought Fezzik’s role, pardon the pun, was small because of Andre’s health issues at the time. It was touching to see the role be significant as the performance meant a lot to Andre. He also does a really good job playing the gentle giant heading the brute squad that is Fezzik.
If you are like me and have put off watching “The Princess Bride” all these years for very shallow reasons, I’d suggest you go ahead and fix that situation now. It is a fun and lively romp through a story that’s been told for generations. Hey… that’s exactly what the grandfather tells the boy at the beginning of the movie. How about that?