“Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
‘The Princess Bride’, directed by Rob Reiner in 1987, is an American fantasy comedy written by William Goldman and based on the screenwriter’s book. Robin Wright plays buttercup, the bride of the title. Five years before the story proper begins, Buttercup falls for a local farmhand called Westley, played by Cary Elwes. In order to seek his fortune and make himself eligible to marry her, Westley leaves but is reported to be killed by pirates. Much later, Buttercup finds herself betrothed to the vain Prince Humperdinck, but on the eve of her wedding, she is kidnapped by three outlaws: a giant, played by Andre the Giant, a Spanish swordsman called Inigo Montoya, played by Mandy Patinkin, and their boss Vizzini, played by Wallace Shawn. The rest of the film follows the Prince and a resurrected Westley as they attempt to recapture/rescue Buttercup. The main thing that stands out about this film is the quality of the script. Goldman’s story is simple complete with a neat framing narrative with Peter Falk as a modern grandfather reading the story to his poorly grandson, played by Fred Savage. Although the narrative is simple, the dialogue is a witty and pleasing mixture of gags, ironic understatement and anachronistic lines, all of which are extremely quotable. Reiner’s direction milks the script for comedy and thrills without slipping into sentimentality, whilst the performances, particularly that of Patinkin, embrace this irreverence. I was reminded of Jacques Demy’s 1970 musical ‘Donkey Skin’, another film that takes the fairy tale format and gives it a contemporary twist.
Would I recommend it? Yes – it’s fun, witty and perfectly pitched. The script is masterfully controlled and the direction makes the most of it. Something tells me I’m not going to have problems finding quotes for this one. Watch in a double bill with ‘Donkey Skin’