• James Rutherford

‘The Princess Bride’: An Enchanting and Oft-Hilarious Homage to Fantasy Tales of Yore


Movie poster for the film The Princess Bride starring Cary Elwes and Robin Wright

“The Princess Bride” (1987) is a charming and farcical fantasy-comedy that opens with Peter Falk and Fred Savage as grandfather and grandson, the former reading aloud William Goldman's titular novel to the latter as he rests sickly in bed. The grandfather goes on to narrate the movie-within-a-movie exploits of a dashing farmhand-turned-swashbuckler named Westley (Cary Elwes) as he embarks on a dangerous mission to rescue his beloved Buttercup (Robin Wright).


Raised as a lowly farm-boy beholden to the wealthy Buttercup in the fictional kingdom of Florin, Westley falls deeply in love with his heavenly benefactress and sets out in search of the fortune necessary to take her hand in marriage. When his ship is attacked by the infamous Dread Pirate Roberts, however, Westley is believed lost—the heartbroken Buttercup subsequently forced into marriage to the loathsome Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon). In a twist of fate, Buttercup is abducted prior to the wedding by a trio of outlaws (Wallace Shawn, Andre the Giant and Mandy Patinkin), who soon find themselves pursued by the Humperdinck's henchmen as well as a mysterious masked man who may or may not be the aforementioned Westley.


Adapted by Goldman from his celebrated 1973 novel and directed by Rob Reiner ("This is Spinal Tap", "Stand By Me"), "The Princess Bride" is an enchanting and uniquely whimsical tale of adventurism that draws particular inspiration from its wonderfully-crafted characters. Patinkin, in particular, nearly steals the show as the impassioned Spanish swordsman, Inigo Montoya, who has pledged a vow of retribution against the man who killed his father. Light-hearted, audacious and surprisingly endearing, it's a genuine classic of 80's-era cinema.

 

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