Saturday, 22 January 2022

The Princess Bride review

 Number 176 on the top 1000 films of all time is Rob Reiner's fantasy drama 'The Princess Bride. Although this film is on the aforementioned list, that's not why I'm reviewing it. It recently appeared on my top ten movie list so I will give my thoughts here.

A young boy (Fred Savage) is sick and tucked up in bed. To cheer him up, his grandfather (Peter Falk) reads him the book ' The Princess Bride.' The book tells the story of the true love between Westley (Cary Elwes) and Buttercup (Robin Wright) who have been separated by fate. When Westley seemingly dies, Buttercup becomes engaged to Prince Humperdink (Chris Sarandon) but she is then kidnapped before the wedding can take place. Mandy Patinkin, Andre the Giant, Wallace Shawn and Billy Crystal all co-star.

This film has always been one of my favourites so I wondered whether it was blind nostalgia that influenced me to add it to my top ten list. However, upon a recent rewatch, it most definitely holds up. Firstly, it is hilarious. I must have seen it a hundred times, but it still had me in fits of giggles. Sure at times it was cheesy and unbelievable but by the same admission it's supposed to be. It's a fantasy fairy-tale after all. Further, the meta-narrative helps to combat some of the cheesiness whenever things get too lovey-dovey between Westley and Buttercup, we always cut back tot he grandson pleading that he doesn't have to hear the kissing scene.

We see the metaness continue with the subversion of traditional fairy tale tropes. Our supposed Prince Charming seemingly dies soon into the film, the ginormous Fezzik turns out to be a gentle giant rather than a mindless killing machine and even the albino who tortures Westley just has a frog in his throat. We might also expect Westley and Prince Humperdink to fight to the death but instead Westley outbluffs the prince and spareshis life. In fact, the big climatic scene takes place between Inigo Matoya and Count Rugen which I'll come to in a moment. 

And these subversions is what made this film so fun to watch. Although Buttercup did fall a little too neatly inoto the damsel in distress trope. other than screaming and getting into trouble, she was pretty useless. She wasn't exactly and Ellen Ripley or sarah O'Connor.

But the Princess Bride also had real heart. And I don't mean the cheesy true love story between Westley and Buttercup. Rather I am speaking about the Inigo Montoya subplot where the Spaniard is on a quest to avenge his father's killer - the villainous Count Rugen who was played brilliant by Christopher Guest. Guest was just the perfect amount of stone-cold severity.

The film climaxes with Inigo duelling Rugen where the former finally gains his revenge. Reportedly Mandy Painkin's father died of cancer shortly before filming. Patinkin took the role of Inigo as he connected with the character. When he kills Rugen, he imagined, he was killing the cancer that killed his father. This led to one of the film's most badass lines: "I want my father back, you son of a bitch."

    The music was also great Every composition matched up perfectly with its corresponding scene. in Westley and Inigo's duel, the music punctuates fight choreography brilliantly. The same goes for Inigo and Rugen's duel.

   Finally I have to acknowledge the amazing supporting cast who stole every scene they were in. We've already talked about Andre the Giant who stopped Fezzik from being sheer comic relief. Wallace Shawn was also great as the villainous Vizzini. He was delightfully over the top without being pantomimy. And of course we have Billy Crystal and Carol Kane who provided some of the film's funniest scenes as Miracle Max and his wife Valerie. reportedly, director Rob Reiner had to leave the set when filming as his laughter kept ruining the takes.

This film is a timeless classic that has stood up for over three decades. It's hilarious with real heart and iconic dialogue. I shall end on one of the film's most recognisable lines: "hello. My name is Inigo Montoya.You killed my father. Prepare to die."

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