There are very few movies that I would consider to be truly perfect. Films being of such varying quality as they are, it’s nearly impossible to find a film that has no flaws whatsoever and can be watched numerous times without getting old or stale. I truly believe that The Princess Bride is one such film.
For a long time I actually didn’t know what the name of this film was, or I wasn’t able to remember it. This is a movie that I would inevitably catch in the middle, often enough that I would recognize the characters, but so far in that I had no chance of finding out what it was called. Finally, I don’t remember when, I got to see the film all the way through, and I’ve been in love with it ever since. The story is based on William Goldman’s 1973 novel of the same name (an entertaining read that I highly recommend by the way), and follows the twisting love story of Buttercup (Robin Wright) and her true love Westley (Cary Elwes). The film is actually a story within a story, as the tale is presented to us as a story a grandfather is reading to his sick grandson in the present day.
I can’t emphasize enough how amazing this movie is. I need to call particular attention to “the World’s Greatest Sword Fight” aka the duel between Inigo and Westley (disguised at the time as the Dread Pirate Roberts). This sword fight is epic in no small part because Mandy Patinkin and Cary Elwes did the vast majority of the scene themselves (in fact I think the only time with a stunt double is when they jump down from a ledge using that rod and Westley does a couple flips on the way down). (Side note, Elwes and Patinkin took fencing lessons from Bob Anderson, the same sword master who worked with Mark Hamill on the Star Wars films among many, MANY other films). To this day I don’t understand any of the fencing language spoken during the fight, but it’s a lot of fun to listen to. I equally enjoy the subsequent Battle of Wits between Westley and Vizzini (Wallace Shawn, who cracks me up every time he talks). The battle is over who will walk away with Buttercup, and who will die. Westley has seemingly hidden a deadly poison in one of two cups of wine, and Vizzini must figure out which one is safe to drink. What makes this funny is that he dances around the correct answer for almost the entire time (since BOTH cups are poisoned he can’t choose either one), but never quite makes the leap to that conclusion.
Even the “scary” part of the film in the Fire Swamp really isn’t all that bad, though I do admit the R.O.U.S’s (Rodents Of an Unusual Size) scared me a little the first time I saw the film (they look pretty realistic considering it’s a little person in a suit and this was made in the 1980s). Although the scene where Buttercup gets sucked into the sand catches me off guard every, single, time! That, by the way, is the one moment of the film where I think Westley is genuinely caught off guard. Every other instance he’s able to keep the “I can handle anything” mask (no pun intended) in place, but that moment is the one time it slips and he goes into total “Oh sh*t this is bad” mode.
Forgive the repetition, but everything in this film is enjoyable. It’s not an exaggeration, ask anyone and they will tell you the same thing. From the opening scene to the final confrontation between Westley and Prince Humperdinck (I snicker every time I hear that name, because who names their son HUMPERDINCK?) every part of this film just comes together is is simply beautiful.
Now, I do have a small piece of head canon regarding this film that I want to share before I wrap up this review (for those who don’t know, head canon is your personal interpretation of something in a story that is never explicitly stated to be true and yet you believe it anyway). My head canon for The Princess Bride is the belief that the story of The Princess Bride is the story of the grandfather and grandson’s distant ancestors; simply put the story of Westley and Buttercup really happened and they are descended from them. My belief for this comes from the beginning of the film when the grandfather refers to the book containing the story as a “very special book” one that his father read to him and his grandfather before that. I reasoned that for a story to be passed down for so long, it must be based on something real, because this is how their family line started. It’s something I refuse to let go of, because it just makes sense to me.
Long story short: The Princess Bride is a perfect movie. Practically every scene is quotable, and I literally have nothing bad to say about this film. I know reviews shouldn’t be like this, but The Princess Bride is literally that good. If you somehow haven’t seen it, go see it, it’s worth it.
Let me know what you think about The Princess Bride in the comments below and have a great day!
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