|THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987)|
Robin Wright Penn
Andre the Giant
|"Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while."|
|Time: 98 mins.|
Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.
THE PRINCESS BRIDE is Rob Reiner's third directorial effort and it's a gem to behold. Much like his first film THIS IS SPINAL TAP (a classic in its own right), this simple story about the search for true love will touch your heart and tickle your funny bone. Adapted from the book of the same name written by screenwriter/novelist William Goldman, Reiner captures the romantic essence and dry humor of the novel, which is not an easy thing to do. Most film adaptations fail to capture the unique quality at the heart of a novel, which is why they rarely impart the same magic as the book. Reiner succeeds, which is what makes this movie so special.
THE PRINCESS BRIDE is a simple fairy tale with a biting sense of humor. Westley (Elwes), is a farmboy working for Buttercup (Wright), the most beautiful woman in the land. He toils tirelessly to please her, never once complaining about her rude and demeaning behavior towards him. It takes a while, but she finally realizes that he's madly in love with her and that she loves him as well. With their feelings happily out in the open, he swears his undying love to her. However, he has no money to support them, so he leaves to make his fortune, pledging that nothing will stop him from coming back for her. Unfortunately, the ship he was on is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who kills everyone aboard, leaving Buttercup desolate and swearing she will never love again.
As we all know, the path of true love is never easy. Believing Westley dead and love an unattainable dream, Buttercup agrees though she's not given much choice to marry the conniving and spineless Prince Humperdinck (Sarandon). Unfortunately for her, the prince is only seeking marriage in order to start a war and acquire more land, which will happen when Princess Buttercup is found dead on his enemy's soil. What he doesn't realize is that she has pledged her love to another and everyone knows nothing can break the bonds of true love not even death. Needless to say, Westley comes to the rescue and the lovers are eventually reunited. Elwes and Wright are perfectly cast as the beautiful young lovers. They make you believe love really can conquer any obstacle. Though romantic, their scenes are honest and heartfelt without being sappy.
Some of the best scenes in the film are between Westley, as a masked man, and Buttercup's inept, yet lovable, kidnappers played by Wallace Shawn, Mandy Patinkin and Andre the Giant. They truly embody these characters, stretching their comic muscles and turning in unforgettable performances Shawn as the wily Sicilian, Patinkin as the revenge-seeking swordsman and Andre as the big fist with a soft heart and a gift for rhyme. You know from the minute they appear exactly who they are. This is a prime example of how little moments can create well-developed characters. The master of deadpan acting, Christopher Guest is also extremely good as the Prince's right-hand man, the six-fingered Count Rugen. He is pure evil, making you believe he loves every minute of the pain he inflicts. His sword fight with Mandy Patinkin is one of the most powerful sequences in the film. Revenge is very sweet. Sarandan is wonderful as the pompous, yet cowardly Prince. Billy Crystal and Carol Kane incredibly funny as the talented, yet under-appreciated Miracle Max and his wife Valerie.
THE PRINCESS BRIDE was filmed on a tiny budget no spectacular action sequences or special effects are to be found which forced it to focus exactly where it needed to...on the script. Everyone is perfect, making these fairy tale characters come believably to life, but with a comic bite you won't find in regular children's stories. The pacing is just right, blending the action, romance and humor into the perfect comedy cocktail. This is adult humor all the way...and every moment of it is a dream come true.