My Love Of 80's Films: The Princess Bride

Cast: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright, André the Giant, Fred Savage, Peter Falk, Billy Crystal, Wallace Shawn, Chris Sarandon

Director: Rob Reiner

Writers: William Goldman (Book and Screenplay)

Synopsis: A young boy who is off school sick is read a story of great adventures and true love by his grandfather.

True Love. Pirates. Villains. Magical Forests. Heroes. Princesses. Revenge. And True Love. The Princess Bride recounts a story which includes every element that is needed for a fairy tale. You might think a film adapted from a book centralising around an old fairy tale sounds complicated, but the message is simple. True love is what The Princess Bride is all about.

Grandfather (Peter Falk) reads his favourite book to his grandson (Fred Savage), while he is off school sick and bedridden. The two characters of grandfather and grandson set the film up nicely, although Savage is initially uninterested in his grandfather’s story, especially any true love part. It doesn’t take long for us to get immersed into the fantasy land with only a few cuts taking us out of the story and back to ‘reality’.

The story begins with what seems like a typical ending to a fairy tale – two people falling in love - Westley and Buttercup (The Princess Bride). Soon after, Westley leaves his love and sets off to make his fortune so they can live happily ever after. After five years, Westley has not returned and Buttercup believes him to have been captured and killed by pirates. Thus, she agrees to marry Prince Humperdinck (Sarandon).

At this point the story is going as far away from a fairy tale ending as possible with Buttercup getting kidnapped by bandits, witty Vizzini (Wallace), giant, Fezzik (André the Giant) and fighting Spaniard, Inigo Montoya (Patinkin) whose only desire in life is to seek revenge upon the person who killed his father. From there it is a journey of wit, strength and endurance through eel-infested waters and magical forests, battles against oversized rodents(!) and sinking quicksand.

Rob Reiner directs a whimsical comedy romance that keeps its comedy lines and comedic timing light, so as not to detract from the story’s aim – a fairy tale escape. What I love about this film is that it plays up to all the fairy tale stereotypes, rejoicing in them rather than trying to make it too serious. Yes, it has all the essentials of a fairy tale, including a damsel in distress, but it makes it fresh and it paved the way for future films such as Shrek and other animated classics that have come since.

Though it doesn’t have a grain of CGI in sight, it will still be sure to entertain a younger audience with its sword and sorcery antics, as well as creating a light relief for adults. All in all, it’s just great fun. It’s inconceivable(!) to think some people haven’t watched The Princess Bride, and for those that haven’t, you must do so as soon as possible!

Written by Rebecca Perkin

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