Anthony's Film Review
The Princess Bride (1987)
A simple fantasy story that mixes romance, adventure, and humor...
One kind of movie you don't see too often is the live-action fairy tale. Sure, there are some out there, along with animated fairy tales, but still, the film industry is far from being saturated with live-action fairy tales. So if that kind of movie gets made, people may take notice. Of course, it still has to be entertaining enough to be worth seeing. I say all of this because the 1987 movie The Princess Bride, based on the book by William Goldman, who also wrote the script for this film, is a live-action fairy tale that you don't often see, and it's fun to watch.
The title character is a woman named Buttercup (played by Robin Wright). She falls in love with a farm boy named Westley (played by Cary Elwes). But she is heartbroken by the news that Westley has been killed. Five years later, she is to marry Prince Humperdinck (played by Chris Sarandon), but she does not love him. One day, while riding her horse, she is captured by a trio comprising Vizzini (played by Wallace Shawn), Inigo Montoya the Spanish swordsman (played by Mandy Patinkin), and the big man Fezzik (played by Andre the Giant).
But guess what? Westley is back, not dead after all. His true love for Buttercup motivates him to save her from captivity. But even as he saves her, they still have to face a few dangerous adversaries, most notably the R.O.U.S.'s (Rodents of Unusual Size) in the Fire Swamp. And not surprisingly, Prince Humperdinck sends out his men to take back Buttercup, as he had chosen her to be his wife.
The only thing to really talk about is how The Princess Bride is presented as a lighthearted tale of romance and action. If you don't like dark melodramatic stories, don't worry. This is far from it. It's the kind of story that pulls you in, while keeping you smiling. This is especially done with humor and jokes, another sign that none of it should be taken seriously. Perhaps the best example of this is a scene where a character named Miracle Max has to bring a certain character back to life. It sounds serious at first, but when the character is played by Billy Crystal who adlibs some funny lines, it's obvious that you should just be smiling and enjoying the ride. Even director Rob Reiner was amused, because during filming, he would storm off the set in laughter thanks to Billy Crystal's wacky performance.
And you gotta love the characters. They are all great in their own way. Whether it's the silly personality of Vizzini, the determination of Inigo Montoya ("Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!"), or the deceit of Prince Humperdinck, the characters come alive. Still, my favorite character is probably Westley, particularly in scenes where he is facing an adversary. The way he stares at his opponent directly and smiles as he is verbally taunting or confusing the other character is so amusing. You can't help but be curious yet wary of Westley, as if you're facing him yourself.
The last thing I'll mention is how this story is told. The Princess Bride is presented as a bedtime story, as a grandfather played by Peter Falk is reading a copy of the book The Princess Bride to his ill grandson played by Fred Savage. It's an interesting way to present the fantasy tale, and it can be funny to have it occasionally interrupted by commentary from the grandson and grandfather. As the grandfather/grandson scenes and this whole movie show, The Princess Bride is enjoyable fun for the family.
For more information about The Princess Bride, visit the Internet Movie Database.