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Movie Review - The Princess Bride - A Classic Story (1987)

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Background

“The Princess Bride,” a novel written by William Goldman in 1973, has become a cult classic since it was adapted to the screen in 1987.  Goldman also uses the fictitious name of S. Morgenstern, claiming that his more modern version is an abridgement of a very old tale originally penned by a writer named S. Mergenstern.

                                                            

Fred Savage

                                                                 Fred Savage - Wikimedia

Introduction

The film version is actually a story within a story.  An unnamed boy, played by Fred Savage, was sick in bed, and his grandfather (Peter Falk) visited him, bringing a copy of a book entitled “The Princess Bride” that he wanted to read to his grandson.  The boy objected, thinking that the book had kissing scenes which would be distasteful to him.  His grandfather explained to him that “The Princess Bride” was an exciting story of adventure, swordplay, fencing, pirates, intrigue, and revenge.

The Story Within the Story

The story takes place in the Middle Ages in a fictional country called Florin.  A beautiful young woman named Buttercup lives on a farm and flirts with a young farm hand named Westley.  She had him do many chores for her, to which he always answered “As you wish.”  She finally realized that Westley loved her and would do anything for her.  Her own feelings for him turned to love, but Westley was very poor, and went off to sea to seek his fortune so that the two could marry.  Unfortunately, the Dread Pirate Roberts captured the ship that Westley was on, and was noted for killing anyone who stood in his way.

                                                              

Cary Elwes

                                                                 Cary Elwes - Wikimedia

Buttercup Agrees to Marry Prince Humperdinck

After five years, Buttercup was convinced that Westley was dead.  She reluctantly agreed to marry Prince Humperdinck, the Crown Prince of Florin (Chris Sarandon), although she did not love him.  When she was riding her horse one day, three men approached her and kidnapped her.  The leader was Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), aided by the giant Fezzik (Andre the Giant), and a swordsman named Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin).  For twenty years, Inigo has been attempting to revenge his father’s murder by a man he would only recognize because he had six fingers on his right hand. 

Mandy Patinkin

As an aside, I have followed Mandy Patinkin’s career for many years, since the time I recognized him seated with his young son in the row in front of us when my daughter and I went to the play “Into the Woods” in New York City, which starred Bernadette Peters.  Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette had co-starred previously in the famous play “Sunday in the Park with George.”

                                                       

Robin Wright

                                                            Robin Wright - Wikimedia

The Masked Man in Black

The three villains and Buttercup were soon followed by a masked man in black who climbed his way by rope up the side of the Cliffs of Insanity.  Vizzini ordered his men to kill the man in black.  There ensued a magnificent sword fight between Inigo and the masked man, a fight which revealed the actual fencing skill of the actors, to the delight of the audience.  The man in black won the match by knocking Inigo out with the butt of his sword.  He was able to squeeze Fezzik into unconsciousness, which left only Vizzini to reckon with.  The masked man presented Vizzini with two cups, one of which contained the deadly poison, Iocane.  He gave Vizzini the option of choosing his cup.  When the masked man was distracted and turned his back, Vizzini switched the cups and drank the one that he supposed was for the masked man.  Instead, Vizzini dropped dead.  The masked man explained to Buttercup that he had spent the past two years making himself immune to Iocane.  Both cups contained the poison, so Vizzini was destined to die from a poisoned cup.

The Man in Black is Unmasked

The man in black fled with Buttercup.  In their conversation, he used the term “As you wish,” and Buttercup realized that he was her true love, Westley.  On their walk back to Florin, the two had to go through the Fire Swamp which they mastered skillfully.  He explained to Buttercup that the Dread Pirate Roberts befriended him on the ship, and when he retired, he bestowed the title on Westley, who spent the next few years learning how to fence, to fight, and to sail the pirate ship.

                                                           

Mandy Patinkin

                                                                     Mandy Patinkin                                                                                                                                                      Wikimedia

Westley and Buttercup are Captured

Prince Humperdinck and his colleague Count Rugen (Christopher Guest), along with their men, caught up with Westley and Buttercup and took them back to Florin.  Humperdinck led Buttercup to believe that he had let Westley return to his ship.  In reality, Westley was being tortured by a machine in a laboratory known as the Pit of Despair.  Buttercup let Humperdinck know that she still loved Westley.  He therefore locked her in a bedroom and returned to the laboratory to torture Westley at the highest setting of the machine, killing Westley.

The Six-Fingered Man

Inigo Montoya learned that Count Rugen was the six-fingered man he had been seeking for twenty years.  The castle was secured for Humperdinck’s wedding.  Inigo and Fezzik decided to enlist Westley’s help.  The found his body in the Pit of Despair and carried him to Miracle Max (Billy Crystal) who revived him with a potion that brought him back to life.  Billy Crystal was totally unrecognizable, and did a fantastic acting job as Miracle Max.

                                                            

Chris Sarandon

                                                             Chris Sarandon - Wikimedia

Indigo Accosts Count Rugen

Once inside the castle, Inigo searched for Count Rugen and confronted him with the words “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." After a fierce fight, Inigo was able to subdue Count Rugen and he killed him.

Buttercup’s Marriage is Not Valid

In a weakened condition, Westley made his way to Buttercup’s bedroom.  Although the marriage between Prince Humperdinck and Buttercup had seemingly taken place, with a buffoon as the minister, Buttercup had not proclaimed “I do.”  Therefore, her marriage to Prince Humperdinck was not valid.  When the Prince found Westley and Buttercup, he was subdued by the exhausted Westley, and Buttercup managed to tie him in a chair.  Westley insisted he did not want to kill the Prince; he preferred that Humperdinck would spend the rest of his life knowing that he was a coward.

Inigo Becomes the Dread Pirate Roberts

Westley searched out Inigo and told him that he would make an excellent Pirate Roberts, thus passing on the honor which had been bestowed on him by the previous Dread Pirate Roberts.

Of course, Westley and Buttercup kissed, and we knew that they were going to live happily ever after.

                                                         

Peter Falk

                                                                 Peter Falk - Wikimedia

When the grandfather closed the book, his grandson said “Grandpa, maybe you could come over and read it again to me tomorrow.”  His grandfather said “As you wish.”

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