The Princess Bride [piratey retro review]

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

The Scoop: 1987 PG, directed by Rob Reiner and starring Cary Elwes, Robin Wright and Andre the Giant

Tagline: She gets kidnapped. He gets killed. But it all ends up okay.

Summary Capsule: Fairy tales, romances and miracles are turned upside-down to make way for the greatest love story of all time!


Justin’s Rating: Oh, schplendid! schupurb!
Justin’s Review: As a child, watching The Princess Bride always amused me slightly for the more outlandish elements. Plus, cool sword fights. I aspired to be Inigo, a master swordsman, until I took my first fencing class and realized that I was much more likely to run my foot through than any villain. But I never quite appreciated this film until I grew up, and the true genius of this cult classic burst out at me.

Having seen this film so many times, it amazes me that I keep finding new ways of falling in love with it. Sure, on the surface it’s a fairly ho-hum affair: some spoiled brat of a girl falls in love with a farm boy, they make True Love in front of the sheep, he dies in a terrible boating accident, and she becomes a princess. Past that, there really isn’t anything sacred to the romance/fantasy genre that the filmmakers aren’t willing to take a big ol’ swing at, destroying any low expectations you may have held.

Years later, gloomy Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright Penn) is suddenly kidnapped by three decidedly odd fellows — thinking man Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), revenge-seeking Inigo (Mandy Patinkin) and dumb brute Fezzik (André the Giant). Whisked across the ocean, she is pursued by her fiancé Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) and a mysterious man in black, both determined to make her their prize. It turns out that true love hasn’t abandoned her after all; Westley (Carey Elwes) returns from the dead — the first such time — and is determined to win her back from the clutches of an evil scheme. Plus, and this is very important, there’s an albino torturer from New Jersey.

The Princess Bride bathes itself so proudly in Odd that there’s no resisting its charms. From the storytelling device (the whole film is narrated from a grandfather reading it to his modern-day Fred Savage son), to the reversal of expectations (hey, Westley’s not allowed to die! Humperdinck isn’t allowed to live!), to the hysterical (and oft-quoted) linies, to the surprisingly moving story points, this is a movie that defies IN YOUR FACE any demands you may have. You either enjoy it, or shut up. There’s no other option.

It’s a turnabout on the extreme romantic view of many a-teenage girl (or, urm, middle-aged woman) out there, to view a movie where True Love is some sort of Terminator-like force, unstoppable by any means. It’s a bold production where small bit parts often steal the entire show (Max the Miracle Maker, anyone? The Clergyman?). It’s an appeal to the inner child in all of us to throw the absolute bestest parts of our childhood fantasy books into one superb package. It’s simply awesome.


PoolMan’s Rating: Easily worth 50 years of your life! (No! Not fifty!)
PoolMan’s Review: I find it, ahem, inconceivable that not a single mention is made of the VERY young Fred Savage or the very old looking Peter Falk in this movie… I kept waiting for him to turn to his grandson and say “Oh, I’m sorry, just one more question, sir…”. But then, that’s me. (Columbo reference, there.)

One of the coolest feelings in the world is getting a joke no one else gets. I’m one of those people who is NOT ashamed to be the only laughing at something, so long as it’s genuinely funny! The Princess Bride is so hilarious from opening to ending that I almost never stop laughing… even though I find I’m the only one getting half the jokes. But then, maybe something’s just wrong with me. Oh well!

This movie has all the key ingredients you need for a good time: love, hate, good guys, bad guys, a semi-fictitious world in which to take place (I’ve never heard of the kingdoms in which this story takes place, but the characters know where Australia is!), and a rhyming Andre the Giant (bless his soul… last wrestler I really gave two cents about). Hey wait a second. Maybe The Princess Bride is set in the future! That would explain how they know Australia! And why the kingdoms are so oddly named (ever been to Gilder?)! And why, in the middle of what looks to be the lovely countryside of England, there is a forest that spontaneously emits flames from its floor and is populated by mutant rats! Apocalyptic horror! Post nuclear holocaust fallout!

Then again, the kid hearing the story is wearing a Chicago Bears shirt. Well, it was worth a shot.

Believe me, if you have a heartbeat and a sense of humour, you’ll love The Princess Bride. I guarantee it.

Warning: Not an actual guarantee.

Swampy swordfights. Swampy swordfights are what bwings us togeva, today.

Intermission!

  • Mark Knopfler agreed to write the music for this movie on the condition that Rob Reiner put the hat that he wore in This Is Spinal Tap in the movie. The hat appears in The Grandson’s bedroom.
  • The Fencing Masters that Inigo and Wesley talk about studying are all real fencing masters from the 14th to 16th centuries (although the styles of fighting they are using have little to do with what those masters actually taught).
  • The two rival kingdoms in the movie are Florin and Guilder – these are the names of two Dutch coins.
  • The video baseball game the Grandson in playing during the first scene is “Hardball” produced by Accolade, Inc., in 1985. It was widely available in the mid-1980s for the Commodore 64 computer system. It was a two-player game, though we see the Grandson playing both teams himself with two controllers.
  • Director Rob Reiner was the voice of the R.O.U.S.’s.
  • Vizzini tells the Man In Black, “Never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line.” ‘Vizzini’ is the name of a small town in Sicily.
  • Princess Bride… the Book? That’s right! And we’ve reviewed it — you can find it by visiting our Classic MRFH Features Page!
  • And don’t forget about our Princess Bride Mutant Viewing!
  • Dream3000 wrote in, “Everyone loves the line where Inigo says, ‘Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.’ William Goldman did not make this up. In the early Renaissance, there was a play called The Spanish Tradgedy by Thomas Kyd in which one character, Heironimo, ran around for the whole play screaming, ‘Hello. My name is Heironimo. You killed my father. Prepare to die.'”
  • Director Rob Reiner left the set during Billy Crystal’s scenes because he would laugh so hard that he would become nauseous. Mandy Patinkin claims that the only injury he sustained during the entire filming of this movie was a bruised rib due to stifling his laughter in his scenes with Billy Crystal.
  • Despite his character Fezzik’s almost-superhuman strength, André the Giant’s back problems at the time prevented him from actually lifting anything heavy. Robin Wright Penn had to be attached to wires in the scene where Buttercup jumps from the castle window into Fezzik’s arms because he couldn’t support her himself.
  • When Count Rugen hits Westly over the head, Elwes told Guest to go ahead and hit him for real. Guest hit him hard enough to shut down production for a day while Elwes went to the hospital.
  • According to author William Goldman, when he was first trying to get the movie made in the 1970’s, a then-unknown Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted to play Fezzik, and he was strongly being considered because Goldman could never get his first choice, Andre the Giant, to read for the role. By the time the movie was made about twelve years later, Arnold was such a big star they could not afford him, Andre was cast after all and the two big men had gone on to become friends.
  • Neither Cary Elwes nor Mandy Patinkin had any fencing or swordfighting experience prior to filming the movie. Thanks to extensive training, they were able to film 100% of their swordfighting scenes themselves, with no stuntmen (except for the flips).
  • Most of the movie was filmed on location in England. The castle used for the film dated back to 1065 and had original tapestries on the walls.

Groovy Quotes

The 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.
The Grandson: Has it got any sports in it?
Grandpa: Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…
The 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.

Inigo Montoya: Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father: prepare to die.

Westley: As you wish.
Grandpa: [narrating] That day, she was amazed to discover that when he was saying “As you wish”, what he meant was, “I love you.” And even more amazing was the day she realized she truly loved him back.

The Grandson: Is this a kissing book?

Inigo Montoya: Fezzik, if you please.
Fezzik: EVERYBODY MOVE!
Inigo Montoya: Thank you, Fezzik.

Westley: Hear this now: I will always come for you.
Buttercup: But how can you be sure?
Westley: This is true love – you think this happens every day?

Westley: Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.

Miracle Max: You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.

Vizzini: Am I going MAD, or did the word “think” escape your lips? You were not hired for your brains, you hippopotamic land mass.

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: DYEEAAHHHHHH!

Vizzini: Probably some local fisherman, out for a pleasure cruise, at night… in… eel-infested waters…

Vizzini: HE DIDN’T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE.
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Inigo Montoya: I have some rope up here, but I do not think you would accept my help, since I am only only waiting around to kill you.
Westley: That does put a damper on our relationship.

Inigo Montoya: I do not mean to pry, but you don’t by any chance happen to have six fingers on your right hand?
Westley: Do you always begin conversations this way?

Inigo Montoya: You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you.
Westley: You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die.

Vizzini: You only think I guessed wrong! That’s what’s so funny! I switched glasses when your back was turned! Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!

Buttercup: You mock my pain.
Westley: Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

Buttercup: We’ll never survive.
Westley: Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.

Humperdinck: Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work. But I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder, and Guilder to frame for it. I’m swamped.
Rugen: Get some rest. If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.

Miracle Max: The King’s stinking son fired me, and thank you so much for bringing up such a painful subject. While you’re at it, why don’t you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it? We’re closed.

Westley: There’s a shortage of perfect breasts in this world. It would be a pity to damage yours.

Miracle Max: Go away or I’ll call the Brute Squad.
Fezzik: I’m on the Brute Squad.
Miracle Max: You *are* the Brute Squad.

Inigo Montoya: You know Fezzik, you finally did something right.
Fezzik: Don’t worry, I won’t let it go to my head.

The Ancient Booer: Your true love lives. And you marry another. True Love saved her in the Fire Swamp, and she treated it like garbage. And that’s what she is, the Queen of Refuse. So bow down to her if you want, bow to her. Bow to the Queen of Slime, the Queen of Filth, the Queen of Putrescence. Boo. Boo. Rubbish. Filth. Slime. Muck. Boo. Boo. Boo.

Prince Humperdinck: First things first, 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 your 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]
Westley: DROP… YOUR… SWORD.

Clergyman: Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam…

Fezzik: Why do you wear a mask? Were you burned by acid, or something like that?
Man in Black: Oh no, it’s just that they’re terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.

Grandpa: Since the invention of the kiss there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind. The End.

Westley: I do not envy you the headache you will have when you awake. But for now, rest well and dream of large women.

Westley: My brains, his steel, and your strength against sixty men, and you think a little head jiggle is supposed to make me happy?

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