There are several ways for a movie to become a classic. Sometimes it can be because of the story, or the actors or director involved in the movie, or sometimes it is the special effects. I think another way a movie can be considered a classic is by it’s quotability factor. Take today’s movie for instance. Today’s movie is probably one of the most quotable movies to come out of the 80’s and always fun to watch. I know that I will probably be quoting some of it again as I watch today’s movie, The Princess Bride.
The plot: A mother checks in on her sick son and tells him that his grandfather is there to visit him. After the grandfather comes in, and pinches the boy’s cheek, the mother leaves them alone and the grandfather gives the boy a book as a present. The boy seems disappointed but the grandfather explains that his father read this book to him as a kid, and he read it to his son, and now he is continuing the tradition. The story: Buttercup lives on a farm in the country of Florin and enjoys asking the farmboy, Wesley, to do tasks for her. Wesley’s response is always, “As you wish” and she soon realizes that it is his way of telling her that he loves her and she grows to love him too. Since Wesley has no money, he decides to find his fortune overseas but when Buttercup worries that she will never see him again, he tells her that he will return because what they have is true love. However, Wesley’s ship is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who never leaves anyone alive, and Buttercup withdraws into herself. Five years later, Prince Humperdinck has chosen Buttercup to be his bride, but Buttercup doesn’t love him and the only joy she finds is in her daily horse ride. One day, Buttercup encounters three men on her ride and when their leader, Vizzini, learns that they are all alone, he has one of his men, the giant Fezzik, grab her and knock her out. Taking the unconscious Buttercup to their ship, Vizzini tears some fabric from the uniform of a soldier from Gildor, Florin’s sworn enemy, so that when they kill Buttercup on the shore of Gildor, it will start a war between the two countries. As they sail through the night, Inigo Montoya, the third member of the group, notices a ship following them and as they all turn to look at it, Buttercup uses the opportunity to jump off the ship and try to swim to safety. Before she can get very far, she hears the shrieks from the shrieking eels and as one charges at her, Fezzik clubs it on the head and drags Butercup back on board the ship. In the morning, the other ship is almost on top of them but Vizzini isn’t worried as they have reached the Cliffs of Insanity. Docking their ship, Vizzini, Inigo, and Buttercup climb onto Fezzik and he begins climbing the rope up to the top of the cliff. When the other boat docks, a man in black jumps out and starts climbing the rope after them, much to the surprise of Vizzini. When they reach the top, Vizzini cuts the rope but the man in black manages to grab onto the cliff to avoid falling. Vizzini tells Inigo to watch and see if the man falls but if he makes it to the top, kill him himself and Inigo says he will duel the man left-handed so that he can enjoy the fight. After Vizzini and Fezzik leave, Inigo calls down to the man and offers him some rope to let him climb up but says that he plans to kill him when he reaches the top. The man refuses at first but when Inigo swears on his father’s soul, the man asks for the rope. After reaching the top, Inigo allows the man to rest for a while, then asks if he has 6 fingers on his right hand. When the man shows he only has 5, Inigo explains that his father was killed by a 6 fingered man and he has been seeking the man for revenge ever since, studying the art of swords for 20 years. After he is rested, the man in black and Inigo start fighting with their left hands and the man in black gets the upper hand until Inigo switches to his right hand and he starts forcing the man in black back. When he is pinned, the man in black admits that he is not left handed and switches hands, and after some fighting some more, he defeats Inigo but chooses to knock him out rather than kill him. When Vizzini sees the man in black approaching, he tells Fezzik to kill him and Fezzik grabs a rock and waits for the man. When the man shows up, Fezzik throws the rock past the man, then challenges the man to hand to hand combat. The man reluctantly agrees and the two fight, with the man finally managing to beat Fezzik by choking him into unconsciousness. The man continues on and finds Vizzini sitting on a tree stump, holding a dagger to a blindfolded Buttercup’s throat. Finding themselves at an impasse, the man in black challenges Vizzini to a battle of wits and after Vizzini accepts, and the man has Vizzini pour some wine into two goblets. The man then produces a vial of iocane powder, a deadly poison, and grabbing the glasses and turning his back to Vizzini, puts the poison into one of the glasses and then turns back to Vizzini and sets them in front of them, telling Vizzini to choose a glass and the winner is the one that doesn’t drink the poisoned glass. Vizzini tries to trick the man in black into revealing something but then points out something behind the man and when he turns around to look, Vizzini then switches the glasses and chooses to drink the one in front of him. After the men drink the wine, the man says Vizzini chose wrong but Vizzini laughs and says that he had switched the glasses but then falls over dead. The man in black frees Buttercup, who was shocked that the man had put the poison in his own glass and the man admits that he had poisoned both glasses but had spent years building an immunity to the poison. As they make their way across the hillside, Buttercup realizes that the man in black is the Dread Pirate Roberts and yells at him for killing Wesley. Roberts says that he remembers Wesley and mocks Buttercup for being engaged to Humperdinck. When they see Humperdinck and his men on a far off hilltop, Buttercup pushes Roberts down the hill but when he calls out “As you wish”, she realizes it is Wesley and jumps down after him. When they come to a stop, Wesley goes to Buttercup and the two embrace, then head into the fire swamp to avoid Humperdinck and his men. As they make their way through the swamp to reach Wesley’s ship, they encounter two of the perils of the swamp; the fire spurts and the lightning sand. When Buttercup mentions the R.O.U.S.’s, Wesley says he doesn’t believe they exist before being attacked by one but he eventually manages to kill it. When they exit the swamp, they encounter Humperdinck and Buttercup agrees to go with him to keep Wesley from being killed.As Humperdinck rides off with Buttercup, Wesley is brought to Humperdinck’s head lieutenant, Count Rugen, and when Wesley comments about his having 6 fingers on his hand, Rugen knocks him out. Rugen has Wesley taken to the Pit of Despair, where he straps Wesley to a machine to suck the life out of him. Meanwhile, Buttercup tells Humperdinck she would rather die than marry him and Humperdinck agrees to send his 4 fastest ships to find Wesley, but doesn’t as it is revealed that he had hired Vizzini to kill Buttercup in order to start a war and now he will do it himself on their wedding night. Humperdinck orders the Thieves Forest to be cleared out and when his soldiers work to do so, Fezzik, who was hired on as part of a Brute Squad, meets up with a drunken Inigo. Fezzik sobers Inigo up and tells him about Rugen and when he learns of the odds against them, decides that they need to find the man in black to help plan their assault. When Buttercup learns that Humperdinck lied to her, she calls him a coward and he locks her in his room and then rushes to the Pit of Despair and turns the machine on to full power, draining all of the life from Wesley. Wesley’s screams are heard all throughout the kingdom, including Inigo and Fezzik and they eventually find their way to the Pit of Despair. Finding his body on the table, they head to Miracle Max to see if he can make a miracle pill to help them. When they reach Miracle Max’s, he refuses to help them at first but when Inigo tells him that if he helps them it will cause endless humiliation, Max agrees to help and fashions a pill for them. When they reach the castle, Inigo and Fezzik give Wesley the pill and he regains his life, but is unable to move. Inigo explains the situation and Wesley says that it will be impossible to break in but learning that they have a wheelbarrow and a holocaust cloak, he comes up with an idea. That night, the wedding starts but as the ceremony proceeds, the people in the castle hear a commotion coming from outside. Outside, Fezzik dons the cloak and as Inigo pushes him towards the gate in the wheelbarrow, he sets the cloak on fire and the guards all run off except for their captain, who gives them the gate key after being threatened by Fezzik. Humperdinck sends Rugen to check on what is happening, then has the priest rush the ceremony into saying “man and wife” before having Buttercup escorted to her room. Wesley, Fezzik, and Inigo make their way through the castle and encounter Rugen and his men. After Inigo kills the men, he faces Rugen and says, “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” Rugen runs for it and Inigo chases after him, asking Fezzik for help with a locked door, but when Fezzik returns to where he left Wesley, he finds Wesley has disappeared. Inigo chases Rugen through the castle but when he catches up to him, Rugen throws a dagger into his stomach. When Inigo pulls out the dagger and tries to continue fighting, Rugen moves to kill him but Inigo is able to block his thrusts. Regaining his strength, Inigo battles with Rugen and eventually kills him. Meanwhile, Buttercup is preparing to kill herself but when Wesley speaks up, she turns to find him in her bed and quickly begins to kiss him. Buttercup apologizes to Wesley for marrying Humperdinck but Wesley tells her since she didn’t say “I do”, the wedding was invalid, and asks Humperdinck to confirm that fact when he shows up at the door. Humperdinck prepares to fight Wesley, thinking he is too weak to fight, but when Wesley stands up and points his sword at Humperdinck, Humperdinck quickly surrenders. Wesley has Buttercup tie Humperdinck to the chair and they are joined by Inigo, who asks Wesley if he has seen Fezzik. Suddenly they hear Fezzik calling out to them and see Fezzik on the grounds below holding 4 white horses. As they jump out the window to join Fezzik, Inigo wonders as to what he should do with his life now that Rugen is dead and Wesley says that he would make a great Dread Pirate Roberts. The four ride away from the castle and Wesley and Buttercup embrace and kiss. In the real world, the grandfather finishes the story and gets up to leave and when the grandson says that the grandfather can come back and read it again tomorrow, and the grandfather turns with a smile and says, “As you wish.”
The Princess Bride was highly praised by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that it is, “A delightfully postmodern fairy tale, The Princess Bride is a deft, intelligent mix of swashbuckling, romance, and comedy that takes an age-old damsel-in-distress story and makes it fresh.” The movie had been planned back when the novel first was released but the head of production at Fox was fired and the movie was put on hiatus, which led to William Goldman buying the rights back. Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin learned how to fence for the movie and did the entore fight themselves except for the two somersaults, which they had stunt doubles perform. The movie was only a modest success at the box office, earning $30.8 million off of a $16 million budget, but became a cult classic when it was released on home video due to it’s being “eminently quotable.”
This is a fantastic movie to watch on so many levels. The acting was great all around, with Cary Elwes (Wesley), Mandy Patinkin (Inigo), Robin Wright (Buttercup) all doing great jobs in their roles and Andre the Giant (Fezzik), Wallace Shawn (Vizzini), and Billy Crystal (Miracle Max) turning in some memorable performances as well. I also enjoyed the interaction with Fred Savage (the grandson) and Peter Falk (the grandfather) as the grandfather read the story. The plot was great, though I will admit that it has been a while since I have read the book so I don’t know how close it followed the book. The dialogue was definitely one of the best aspects in the movie as there are SOOOO many lines that are instantly recognized and quoted in this movie. The various action scenes and sword fights were very well done and I loved how the music helped set the tone during the fights; especially the fight between Inigo and Rugen, as the music slowly built up during the fight, interspaced with sharp notes timed to when their swords would clash. Definitely one of those must see movies that will be remembered for generations to come.
Rating: 5 out of 5