A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

The Princess Bride

November 23, 2010

The Princess Bride

The flu that has been plaguing me for the last few days is starting to scare me. My fever hasn’t reduced and I’m weak and woozy from days of an over 100 degree temperature. So as a result I’m writing this review from the hospital, where I finally decided I needed to go since I didn’t seem to be getting better. Since the circumstances of my night are so awful we chose not to continue to watch awful movies in support of Desert Bus and have substituted one of our precious favorite movies.

There are a few movies that are so perfect, so wonderful, that we have reserved them for the absolute worst days. This is amongst the best of them. A movie that I, and practically every one of my friends, can recite from memory. Indeed one of my earliest memories of my wife involved waving goodbye to some mutual friends and doing the “Bye, bye boys. Have fun storming the castle” exchange. It’s one of the things that first made me realize that she was the kind of cool person that she is.

This actually works quite well as a movie to watch when I’m not feeling well, since it involves a grandfather reading a story to his sick grandson. All of the action and adventure and comedy in the movie is couched in this sort of device. I remember that when I first watched this film in the theaters I was irritated by the segments with the grandfather and grandson since they broke the flow and took me out of the fantasy, but they have grown on me somewhat. Mostly because in the years since falling in love with this movie I have read the book, and been completely blown away by how perfect the adaptation is. The concept of the book is that the story of the Princess Bride is a lengthy and baroque tome that the author’s grandfather used to read to him as a child. When he finally found it and read if for himself he was shocked to discover that the core tale of swashbuckling and adventure he remembered from his childhood was buried in lengthy minutia that his grandfather had omitted. So the book we have is the much edited version that concentrates on the adventure and expunges all the unnecessary trappings. So the flow of the book is very similar to that of the movie, except that instead of breaking off to visit Fred Savage in his bedroom the author will pause to explain that there’s a lengthy section omitted here regarding current fashion trends in Gildur.

So we have a sick young Fred Savage who is visited by his grandpa Columbo, and his grandpa reads him the story of The Princess Bride. It’s the ultimate swashbuckling tale of adventure in a fantasy land and it’s full of a wry wit that makes it such a joy to watch. More important than the tale of true love between the beautiful Buttercup and the farm-boy Westley, and the obstacles in their path is the constant witty repartee between the many wonderful characters in the movie.

This is the ultimate ensemble cast movie. Every single role in the film is iconic and memorable, and everybody has wonderful and quotable lines. Who could forget Wallace Shawn’s “Inconceivable!” or Mandy Patinkin and his “You killed my father – prepare to die.” or every single perfectly delivered line from the enormous and wonderfully mealy-mouthed Andre The Giant? And every one of those iconic moments and bits of dialog appears in exactly the same way in the book as well. I can think of only a couple small changes from the book to the movie – an extended sequence of Inigo and Fezzik breaking into the Pit of Despair and a slightly less upbeat ending to the tale because the book holds closer to the words of the Dread Pirate Roberts “Life IS pain, Highness. Anybody who says differently is selling something.”

Rob Reiner truly has a flair for this kind of adventure. I remember seeing promotional materials when this came out that made a great deal of the sword fighting for example. This movie features one of the most famous and wonderful fencing duels ever filmed. They talked a lot about all the training and choreography that went in to making it the best dual it could be. This is a special kind of fantasy film in that it doesn’t actually involve much magic. There’s the power of true love of course, and the miracle pill, and the ROUSes, and the Machine, but within the context of the world these all just fit and nothing seems exceptional about them.

The charm and joy of this movie is simply infectious. From the classic Mark Knopfler score to the brilliant screenplay, to the wonderful performances absolutely everything about this movie is thrilling and delightful. And this movie played an active part in my meeting my future wife. It made a stressful evening much more tolerable.

November 23, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,


  1. So sorry you’re feeling punk, but happy to read a review of one of my favorite movies of all time. Just a few weeks ago I watched it to soothe a broken heart. It’s my cinematic chicken soup ~ breathe deep and snuggle in (and as a barometer of potential mate compatibility, it’s a no-brainer; good call). Hugs, Dani

    Comment by Danielle | November 25, 2010 | Reply

    • Really? You like a movie with a dashing pirate? Color me shocked.

      Thank you, by the way.

      Comment by tanatoes | November 25, 2010 | Reply

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