Director: Rob Reiner
Starring: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Christopher Guest, Peter Falk, Fred Savage
‘The Princess Bride’ has been affectionately carried with me throughout my childhood all the way into my adult life and it still stands as my favorite film of all time. Unlike recent movies, I didn’t watch ‘The Princess Bride’ in a theatre, instead it was watched for the first time in my grandfather’s basement. A dark, cool place, smelling of cigar smoke and with a wide assortment of old movies on display. The first time I watched it, I instantly fell in love with the story because of its wonderful characters and great humor. As I grew older, I was able to appreciate the film more and more, to the point I realised that of the 1,000 plus films I’ve watched, none could equal the affection I had for ‘The Princess Bride’.
This movie is formed of a story within a story. When a young boy is feeling ill, his grandfather comes over to read him a story which has been passed down from generation to generation in his family. The story is of course the story of ‘The Princess Bride’, about a wealthy woman who falls in love with a young stablehand called Wesley. One day, Wesley travels out to sea and is captured by an infamous pirate. Years pass and the young woman is sought after by Prince Humperdinck, a cold and calculating man with visions of glory and the throne. However, before the marriage, the bride is kidnapped by three scheming lowlifes. As they travel back with their hostage, they discover that they are being followed by a mysterious, masked stranger, who has intentions to take the princess back from these kidnappers and will stop at nothing to get her.
Of course, since this is my favourite film, there is so little that I dislike about it. I suppose, even in the 1980’s, the storyline is a little familiar. If you read romantic books and/or watch romantic movies, you get an idea for how this one is going to go and with little surprise, it gets there. Then again, it’s not the destination, but the journey that matters most and this is quite a wondrous adventure. Some of the special effects are certainly dated, but they work in the mindset that this is a comedy, not to be taken too seriously by anyone. There is so much to like about this film. I love the chemistry between Fred Savage as the grandson, and Peter Falk as the doting grandfather. They constantly remind you that this film is quite simply, a beautiful story. These two have humour and personality all their own, even though they don’t dominate the film.
As for the story within a story aspect, the characters in ‘The Princess Bride’ are wonderfully unique; a cast masterfully put together. The humour cleverly works on various levels – some of it is silly, but there is also a good amount of absurd comedy and great one-liners for the ages. The script allows for all these characters to have shining moments. You get to learn about multiple figures throughout the movie, allowing you to fall in love with them all. The story is packed with tension, drama, action, a scheming villain, and plenty of twists and turns throughout. You have great swords fights and some of the best catchphrases ever written in movie history. Cary Elwes does a wonderful job playing Wesley, and Billy Crystal provides one of the most iconic appearances ever. No spoilers, but the ending of this film just makes you happy, fills you with hope and gives you a very warm feeling inside and out.
In the end, if you love yourself some silly humor, great cameo appearances and plenty of comedy and action, all mixed in with some heart and beauty, this film will not disappoint. Not to mention the way the whole thing is crafted together diligently by a wonderful cast and crew. There may be a touch of nostalgic bias in my views of the film, but that only plays a small part in my advocating of ‘The Princess Bride’ as a must see for just about everyone.