Girl falls in love with Boy. Boy gets lost at sea. Girl gets betrothed to evil prince and kidnapped by Sicilian. Boy returns to rescue girl. Girl gets recaptured; Boy gets tortured. With help of Giant and Spaniard, Boy attempts to rescue girl one last time.
You know, just your average fairy tale story.
As a kid, I was embarrassed to publicly admit that THE PRINCESS BRIDE was one of my favorite movies, mainly because it sounded like something a group of six year old girls would watch at a tea party. But now I’m proud to say it: I love a movie that has a main character named Buttercup and I don’t care who knows it.
Can you really blame me though? Not even counting the Cliffs of Insanity, Pits of Despair, Rodents of Unusual Size, shrieking eels, and fire swamps, THE PRINCESS BRIDE has it all. There’s swashbuckling adventure and impressive swordplay for the action minded. The backbone of the film revolves around a storybook romance and a real heartfelt center. (Anybody who doesn’t cheer when Inigo Montoya calls Rugen a “son of a bitch” is emotionally vacuous.) And then there’s the comedy…so much comedy. William Goldman’s screenplay, adapted from his own novel, infuses a perfect sense of whimsical fun and self-aware funniness, but without being too tongue in cheek like a lot of fractured fairy tales.
However, it’s the great cast that really pulls the whole thing together. A charismatic Cary Elwes and then-newcomer Robin Wright do fine work as the main hero-damsel duo, but it’s easy to overlook them for the perfect supporting cast, including an inconceivably loquacious Wallace Shawn, a lovable Andre the Giant, and Mandy Patinkin channeling Antonio Banderas before there was Antonio Banderas. Even quick cameos by Billy Crystal, Carol Kane and Peter Cook’s speech-impeded priest go a long way in making the finished product that much more memorable. Everyone is able to pull off Goldman’s fanciful wit and dialogue naturally (Peter Falk’s final line couldn’t be more perfect), which culminates in a multitude of seriously great quotes fit for use in daily life.
More than any other movie, whenever I watch THE PRINCESS BRIDE it takes me back to the time when I first saw it as a child, filled with an innocent sense of wonder and swept up in all the fun, adventure, fantasy, romance and... Crap, maybe I am six year old girl.
I think this is now the sixth or seventh release of the PRINCESS BRIDE on home video. There was a barebones release in 2000, a Special Edition in 2001, the 2-Disc Dread Pirate and Princess Buttercup editions last year (same content, different packaging), the 20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition in 2007, a Blu-Ray in 2009 and now this 25th Anniversary Edition Blu. There’s a new two-part nostalgic documentary (*) to mark the occasion, but the rest of it is recycled bonus material.
*True Love: The Princess Bride Phenomenon: This half-hour extra features new interviews with Cary Elwes, Robin Wright and Rob Reiner, who discuss the lasting legacy of what they created, as well as a proper retrospective piece with appearances from other cast members and even hardcore PB fans.
Commentaries with Rob Reiner and William Goldman: The director and writer have plenty of unique, interesting stories and perspectives on their work, but I would’ve much preferred they recorded it together. It’s always better when people can bounce off each other.
The Art of Fencing: A real life Sword Master covers the fencing in THE PRINCESS BRIDE, as well as how swordplay is used in cinema in general. New personal goal: Acquire title of Sword Master before I die.
As You Wish: An older production featurette with cast and crew discussing the film’s themes, shooting, and lots more.
Video Diary: Some cool home movies that Cary Elwes shot while on the set of the film that give you a firsthand perspective of the set.
Dread Pirate Roberts: Greatest Pirate of the Seven Seas: A humorous history of the Wesley’s pirate alter ego with input from fake “pirate experts.”
Fairy Tales and Folklore: More interviews with the cast, this time on why the film’s narrative works so well.
Love is Like a Storybook: Experts discuss the nature and rules of the fairy tale story and how the PRINCESS BRIDE fits (and breaks) the mold.
Miraculous Makeup: An in-depth look at creating Billy Crystal’s distinctive old age makeup with artist Peter Montagna.
PRINCESS BRIDE: The Untold Tales: A few cast members (Fred Savage alert!) tell us about their memories of the movie and its subsequent cult following.
If you don’t already own a copy of THE PRINCESS BRIDE, this Blu-Ray is definitely worth picking up as it collects most of the bonus material from the many, many previous releases. As far as double dipping though, you’ll have to decide if a couple new extras and an HD transfer are worth your money.
Extra Tidbit: The only time doubles were used in the swordfighting scenes was for the somersaults; Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin did all the fencing themselves.