Taglines: It’s as real as the feelings you feel.
An elderly man reads the book “The Princess Bride” to his sick and thus currently bedridden adolescent grandson, the reading of the book which has been passed down within the family for generations. The grandson is sure he won’t like the story, with a romance at its core, he preferring something with lots of action and “no kissing”. But the grandson is powerless to stop his grandfather, whose feelings he doesn’t want to hurt.
The story centers on Buttercup, a former farm girl who has been chosen as the princess bride to Prince Humperdinck of Florian. Buttercup does not love him, she who still laments the death of her one true love, Westley, five years ago. Westley was a hired hand on the farm, his stock answer of “as you wish” to any request she made of him which she came to understand was his way of saying that he loved her. But Westley went away to sea, only to be killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts. On a horse ride to clear her mind of her upcoming predicament of marriage.
The Princess Bride is a 1987 American romantic fantasy adventure comedy film directed and co-produced by Rob Reiner, and starring Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, and Christopher Guest. Adapted by William Goldman from his 1973 novel of the same name, it tells the story about a farmhand named Westley, accompanied by befriended companions along the way, who must rescue his true love Princess Buttercup from the odious Prince Humperdinck. The story is presented in the film as a book being read by a grandfather (Peter Falk) to his sick grandson (Fred Savage), thus effectively preserving the novel’s narrative style.
Released in the United States on September 25, 1987, the film is number 50 on Bravo’s “100 Funniest Movies”, number 88 on The American Film Institute’s (AFI) “AFI’s 100 Years…100 Passions” list of the 100 greatest film love stories, and 46 in Channel 4’s 50 Greatest Comedy Films list. In 2016, the film was inducted into the National Film Registry, being deemed as “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”
About the Story
In the framing story, a man (Peter Falk) reads a book, The Princess Bride, to his sick grandson (Fred Savage). Scenes of the reading occasionally interrupt the main story; for example, when the boy tells his grandfather to skip the parts that include kissing.
Buttercup (Robin Wright) has grown up on a farm in the Renaissance Era, in the (fictional) country of Florin. She mercilessly orders around the farmhand, Westley (Cary Elwes), but he only replies “As you wish” to her every whim. Buttercup eventually comes to understand that this is his expression of love, which she then comes to return. Westley leaves to seek his fortune so that they might marry, but Buttercup learns that Westley’s ship was attacked by the legendary Dread Pirate Roberts, who is infamous for leaving no one alive. Accordingly, Westley is presumed dead.
Five years later, Buttercup reluctantly agrees to marry Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), the Crown Prince of Florin. Before the wedding, she is kidnapped by a trio of bandits: a Sicilian boss named Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), a giant named Fezzik (André the Giant), and a Spanish master swordsman named Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), who is seeking revenge against his father’s murderer, whom he knows to have six fingers on his right hand.
These three are in Humperdinck’s employ and have been ordered to kill Buttercup once in Guilder, Florin’s enemy, as a pretext to start a war. The four are soon followed by a man dressed in black, and Vizzini orders Inigo and then Fezzik to kill him. The man in black bests Inigo in swordplay, knocking him out with the butt of his sword, then chokes Fezzik unconscious in hand-to-hand combat, and finally tricks Vizzini into drinking lethal poison during a battle of wits, and thereby frees Buttercup.
Buttercup, believing the man in black to be the Dread Pirate Roberts, tries to escape and pushes him down a steep hill, but when he shouts “As you wish” as he falls, she realizes he is her beloved Westley and throws herself down the hill after him. As Westley escorts her back to Florin across a hazardous bog called the Fire Swamp, he explains that though he was captured, the previous Roberts, intrigued by Westley’s pleas for mercy and his stories about Buttercup, befriended Westley and trained him in fighting and swordsmanship, and after secretly revealing that he was not the original Roberts (he inherited the title), he eventually retired and bequeathed the title to Westley.
Humperdinck, Count Rugen (Christopher Guest) and their men eventually capture Westley and Buttercup and take them back to Florin; Humperdinck later tells Buttercup he has let Westley return to his ship, but in reality Rugen and the Albino (Mel Smith) are torturing Westley in a secret laboratory called the Pit of Despair, using a torture machine to drain the life from him. When Buttercup tells Humperdinck that he is a coward and that she still loves Westley, Humperdinck locks her in a suite, rushes to the Pit and, ignoring Rugen’s warning, engages the machine at its highest setting, sending a screaming Westley to his death.
Fezzik, having reunited with a drunk Inigo in a nearby village, has learned that Rugen is the six-fingered man Inigo seeks, but, with the castle secured for Humperdinck’s wedding, believes they need the Man in Black’s (Westley’s) help to invade; whom they trust due to the honorable way he defeated them previously. Fezzik sobers up Inigo, they stumble upon the Albino, and Fezzik inadvertently knocks him unconscious when trying to receive information on Westley and Rugen.
Westley’s dying screams lead them to the Pit, and they recover his body, bringing it to Miracle Max (Billy Crystal), a bitter and destitute apothecary whose confidence had been shattered due to his banishment from the castle by Humperdinck. Max notes that Westley is “only mostly dead”, but sustained by true love, and provides a potion (in the form of a chocolate-covered pill) that brings him back to life. Outside the castle gate, Inigo and Fezzik give Westley the pill; he quickly begins to recover, and comes up with a plan to defeat the castle guards and get into the castle itself.
The Princess Bride (1987)
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Starring: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, Fred Savage, Peter Falk, Carol Kane, Billy Crystal, Margery Mason
Screenplay by: William Goldman
Production Design by: Norman Garwood
Cinematography by: Adrian Biddle
Film Editing by: Robert Leighton
Costume Design by: Phyllis Dalton
Set Decoration by: Maggie Gray
Art Direction by: Richard Holland, Keith Pain
Music by: Mark Knopfler
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox (North America), Vestron Pictures (International)
Release Date: September 25, 1987