The majority of The Princess Bride does not actually happen. At least, it isn’t “real” in the literal use of the word. The story is told by a grandfather (Peter Falk) who is reading to his sick grandson (Fred Savage). This is what is taking place “in real life”, and the majority of the events that take place are just a re-telling of a story the grandfather had read to him when he was a child.
This read-out-loud story follows a few characters–all of which are unique. We begin our fairytale learning that a young woman (Robin Wright) is in love with a farm boy (Cary Elwes). Unable to support a marriage with this girl, he leaves to get money. We are told that he is promptly killed by the Dread Pirates Roberts. The story fast-forwards five years, and we find out that the woman from earlier is about to married to the prince of Florin (Chris Sarandon).
Prior to the marriage taking place, she is captured by three people. One is named Fezzik, a giant (André the Giant), one is a Spanish fencer named Inigo (Mandy Partinkin), and the leader is named Vizzini (Wallace Shawn). Each one of these characters has many nuances to their personality for you to figure out. They are soon followed by another man whose identity is initially hidden from the audience by a black mask. It appears that he wishes to rescue the girl from the outlaws. Also hunting down the group is the prince, although he stays a stage or two behind the rest of the characters.
This, my friends, is where the plot will stop being discussed. Trust me, this is something that you would want to experience for yourselves for the first time. Granted, it doesn’t stop being good after you know what it is, but the initial surprise factor is something that you’ll likely be able to cherish for some time after seeing the film.
That is your second hint about whether or not you should see The Princess Bride. To put it bluntly, yes, you should see it. You get too much entertainment in an hour and a half to not see it at some point. You get many elements within it, making it deep, while still managing to keep its mood light enough to stay humorous.
The first type of story you get is a romantic one. The princess is captured, and someone comes in an attempt to sweep her off her feet. The prince also seems to have some romantic feelings towards her. A few plot twists later, and she must be rescued once again, this time from someone different.
The second genre this movie could fall into is one of action. There are impressive sword fights, perilous situations and enough action to make it entertaining if look at it straight in that sense. The other genre this film has going for it is comedy. Despite the romance aspects and the action scenes, The Princess Bride is quite funny. The witty dialogue exchanged between characters is the primary example of this. Even in the most intense moments of the film, the characters will exchange quips with one another that is hilarious.
The following scene is a perfect example of what I am talking about. When the masked man is first tracking the group of kidnappers, he is forced into climbing a mountain. Inigo is to stay behind and duel him. Inigo gets tired of waiting for him, and after talking to one another–while the masked man hangs from the cliff–they decide it would quicken things up if Inigo threw him a rope. After helping the man up onto the cliff top, Inigo is thanked, and instead of beginning the duel right away, the two begin talking about their past while Inigo lets the man catch his breath. Even once the duel begins, the two continue to have an intriguing conversation all the way up to the duel’s completion. The witty banter between the two is great, and while this level of cleverness isn’t kept up to this level, it stays moderately high.
The film also manages to pull off a coming-of-age tale regarding the sick child at the beginning. There are short pauses where the grandfather will stop reading or the child will cut him off, and you can tell that a certain level of maturity is reached by the end of the story. The child begins as a somewhat insufferable child, and ends up growing up as the story progresses.
He isn’t the only character that gets development either. Every other character in the film gets characterization and development. They progress over the duration of the film, and while some of them are way over-the-top, it works. Each character manages to make you feel something towards them, whether that be sympathy, hatred or something else entirely. You will still form an opinion on each of the characters, as they are all well-developed enough for you to do so.
The acting is also fairly solid, allowing these characters to be brought out to their fullest extent. The one weak link in the chain is André the Giant, whose lines were often hard to hear properly, and who showed very little emotion within the film. It didn’t seem like he care all that much about the production, and while I’m sure that isn’t true, that’s what came across. Everyone else was quite good though.
The only negative I can think about when talking about The Princess Bride is in its special effects. I’m sure they looked fine at the time, but they don’t hold up. There are giant rats that appear mid-way through the film, as well as some eels, and they all look really fake. Not quite fake enough to take you out of what is otherwise a great movie, but bad enough to make you take a step back and laugh at it. Luckily, these scenes are short and don’t have a large impact on the film as a whole.
The Princess Bride is quite the film. It’s got many genres mashed into one film. It has a romance plot, a few action scenes, a small coming-of-age story, and on top of all that, it is really funny. The dialogue exchanged between characters is humorous, and this becomes even funnier due to the fact that all of the characters are well-developed. It’s a funny film, and one that, despite some lousy effects, withstands the test of time.