Why The Princess Bride is my favourite film

Grandson: A book?
Grandpa: That's right. When I was your age, television was called books. And this is a special book. It was the book my father used to read to me when I was sick, and I used to read it to your father. And today I'm gonna read it to you.
Grandson: Has it got any sports in it?
Grandpa: Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...
Grandson: Doesn't sound too bad. I'll try to stay awake.
Grandpa: Oh, well, thank you very much. Very nice of you. Your vote of confidence is overwhelming.

And so begins the tale of The Princess Bride - my favourite film written by one of my favourite screenwriters, William Goldman, (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Misery, All The President's Men), and directed by one of my favourite directors, Rob Reiner, (A Few Good Men, Stand By Me). I'm not one to throw around the phrase "cult classic" but the description is fitting for The Princess Bride. Long before everyone fell in love with Shrek, there was The Princess Bride. It is, in my opinion, the most perfect film ever made because it's fun for the whole family. Youngsters see it as an adventurous love story and adults will appreciate the satire. Sure, it's a little dated with things like the ROUS's (Rodents of Unusual Size), but it's still a film that has something for everyone.

Goldman wrote the novel of The Princess Bride in 1973. It can be read on its own as a hilarious and unique piece of literature. He's written it in a way to make you think he's telling an abridged story written by someone else, who doesn't actually exist, and he injects his own commentary throughout. It's a great read. When The Princess Bride film was released in 1987, it performed modestly at the box office. It wasn't until it was released on video that word of mouth spread and the film became a favourite for so many people. In many ways, The Princess Bride was ahead of its time and Reiner was able to simultaneously parody the genre of a fantasy love story while also celebrating it.

I recently re-watched the film at an outdoor cinema and it was fantastic to see so many fans reciting lines along with the film, as well as seeing people laugh at lines for the first time.

PLOT
The Princess Bride is constructed as a story within a story, with a grandfather (Peter Falk) reading a book to his grandson (Fred Savage). The story takes place in the fictional land of Florin, and tells of the romance between Buttercup (Robin Wright) and stable boy Westley (Cary Elwes). After declaring their love for each other, Westley leaves to make some money but is reportedly killed. Buttercup is devastated but is soon chosen by Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) to be his bride. However, Humperdinck plans to have Buttercup kidnapped and frame rival country Guilder for her murder to start a war. He hires intelligent Sicilian Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), who employs dumb, but kind, giant Fezzik (Andre the Giant), and Spanish swordsman Inigo Montoya (Mandy Pantankin) who is searching for a six-fingered man who killed his father.

LIKEABLE CHARACTERS
There is not one unnecessary character in the film. From villains like Count Rugan (Christopher Guest) to hilarious characters like Miracle Max (Billy Crystal) and the Impressive Clergyman (Peter Cook), they all add humour and provide pivotal plot points. Here's a few of the best:

Westley – Our hero. He's smart, he's a skilled fighter and he fights for true love. He also has two of the most memorable lines in the film: "As you wish" and " There's a shortage of perfect breasts in this world. It would be a pity to damage yours." Elwes oozes appeal in this role.
Buttercup – The quintessential damsel in distress. She should be actually quite annoying but she's not. Wright perfects the English accent in her first major film role.
Innigo – One of the most quoted lines in film history is, "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." Patinkin has said it is the line he is always asked by fans and interviewers to quote. It's an odd quote to imitate since there's never a practical use for it, but it's still a great line. We also feel sorry for Innigo because he's trying to avenge his father's death.
Fezzik – Who doesn't love Andre The Giant? His delivery of lines is always perfect from poetry to lines like, “You've been mostly dead all day”.
Vizzini – One of the villains. Wallace Shawn is so funny. His talent is “inconceivable!”

GREAT DIALOGUE:
I've already mentioned some great lines, but there are also some great conversations like these...

Inigo Montoya: That Vizzini, he can fuss.
Fezzik: Fuss, fuss... I think he like to scream at us.
Inigo Montoya: Probably he means no harm.
Fezzik: He's really very short on charm.
Inigo Montoya: You have a great gift for rhyme.
Fezzik: Yes, yes, some of the time.
Vizzini: Enough of that.
Inigo Montoya: Fezzik, are there rocks ahead?
Fezzik: If there are, we all be dead.
Vizzini: No more rhymes now, I mean it.
Fezzik: Anybody want a peanut?
Vizzini: Arrrrgh!

The Impressive Clergyman: Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togever tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wivin a dweam...And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva... So tweasure your wuv.

Prince Humperdinck: To the death.
Westley: No. To the pain.
Prince Humperdinck: I don't think I'm quite familiar with that phrase.
Westley: I'll explain and I'll use small words so that you'll be sure to understand, you warthog faced buffoon.
Prince Humperdinck: That may be the first time in my life a man has dared insult me.
Westley: It won't be the last. To the pain means the first thing you will lose will be your feet below the ankles. Then your hands at the wrists. Next your nose.
Prince Humperdinck: And then my tongue I suppose, I killed you too quickly the last time. A mistake I don't mean to duplicate tonight.
Westley: I wasn't finished. The next thing you will lose will be your left eye followed by your right.
Prince Humperdinck: And then my ears, I understand let's get on with it.
Westley: Wrong! Your ears you keep and I'll tell you why. So that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish. Every babe that weeps at your approach, every woman who cries out, "Dear God! What is that thing?" will echo in your perfect ears. That is what to the pain means. It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery forever.
Prince Humperdinck: I think you're bluffing.
Westley: It's possible, Pig, I might be bluffing. It's conceivable, you miserable, vomitous mass, that I'm only lying here because I lack the strength to stand. But, then again, perhaps I have the strength after all. [Slowly rises and points sword directly at the prince] Drop. Your. Sword.



Do you love The Princess Bride? What's your favourite film of all time?

Comments