CLASSIC MOVIE SUNDAYS: The Princess Bride (1987)
Georgios Merkouris / April 28, 2019
( 2 min read )
Director: Rob Reiner
Runtime: 98 min
Starring: Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, Andre the Giant, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, Peter Cook etc.
It all starts as a story being told by a kindly, albeit a bit cynical, grandfather to his sick grandson. He tells the story of a poor farmhand called Westley (Cary Elwes) who falls in love with Buttercup (Robin Wright). Initially, she scornfully orders him to complete chores, to which he always replies “As you wish”. Suddenly, one day she realizes that they are both in love with each other. He leaves to seek his fortune so they can marry, but his ship is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts and Westley is believed to be dead. Meanwhile, after 5 years of waiting, Buttercup agrees to marry Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon). It is left up to Westley to rescue her from Humperdinck.
Based on William Goldman’s 1973 novel of the same name, “The Princess Bride” is one of the most enduring (and endearing) cult classics of all time. The secret to its appeal lies mostly in its theatrical nature. The story and characters both earnest and satirical. It starts off with a highly melodramatic tone, then reveals its true nature, that of a parody of swashbuckling adventure romance films and epic fantasies. “The Princess Bride” looks and feels just like those movies, accurately representing their essence. In addition however, it provides commentary on their nature and doesn’t shy away from going in for big laughs. There is a metanarrative at play, given that the story is told by the grandfather (Peter Falk) to his sick grandchild. Both frequently argue about aspects of the story (the kissing scenes, most famously), commenting on what makes a story appealing in the first place.
The script, written by Goldman himself, is one of the most of quoted ones in the history of Hollywood. Lines from the movies have made themselves into other pieces of pop culture. The combination of various elements and themes allow the viewers to find themselves somewhere in it. Children can enjoy the rousing, action scenes and adults the biting humour. Lastly, the archetypical characters, portrayed by some of the leading character actors at that time, are simply unforgettable. They embody a wide variety of traits (dashing, cunning, beautiful, brave, cruel, manipulative, etc.) which allow the viewers to put themselves into their shoes and witness this magical world from their eyes. “The Princess Bride” is one of those films that have a rabid cult following, and it is not hard to see why. It is an intelligent and charming film, one that succeeds in its perfect balance between romance, comedy, and adventure. Pure unbridled fun!