Every time I recommend The Princess Bride to a friend who hasn’t seen it before, especially to my guy friends, I’m given an incredulous look that seems to say, “You want me to watch what?” And with a title like The Princess Bride, who could blame them? But in every single circumstance, they’ve walked away loving it. It all boils down to one simple fact: it’s a great film, whether you’re a guy or girl. Perhaps the best way to sum up this film is the way Peter Falk’s character sums up the book to his grandson: it has “fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles!” This film has something to enjoy for everyone who watches it.
Based on William Goldman’s 1973 book of the same title, The Princess Bride works as a sort of parody to every genre of film – romance, action, fantasy, etc. – but it does so in a way that never feels forced. The story is fun and the dialogue is often tongue-in-cheek. The comedy in the film wisely relies on the performances of each of the actors, who are incredibly well-cast. The two stand-out performances come from André the Giant as Fezzik, a large, intimidating man with a heart of gold and a passion for rhymes (“Does anybody want a peanut?”), and Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya, a revenge-seeking Spaniard who delivers arguably the most-quoted line of all time – “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father – prepare to die.”
Falling in line with the idea of it being a parody, this film also presents many of its characters as caricatures, with the most notable example being Wallace Shawn as Vizzini, the Sicilian. Wallace Shawn himself is a caricature of a person as it is, and this transfers perfectly to his character – wild facial expressions, insane laughter, ridiculous lines. Robin Wright as Princess Buttercup is a caricature of the classic head-over-heels woman-in-love character, displayed literally when she leaps and falls head-over-heels after Westley. Billy Crystal makes a hilarious cameo as Miracle Max, and Peter Cook’s appearance as the “Impressive Clergyman” is one of the highlights of the film. As I mentioned previously, the cast of this film is fantastic.
Perhaps the success of this film could be attributed to the author of the original book, William Goldman, who also wrote the screenplay. Much of the dialogue is lifted straight from the book, but it is really the actors bringing it to life that makes it so endearing. With the main lesson of the film being that there is a such thing as true love and that it’s worth fighting for, it’s got a moral worth watching for…plus, it’s just plain fun. With something for everyone, The Princess Bride remains a classic even 25 years after its release…and, may I say, the book is even better. Both are worth your time!
Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)