The Princess Bride (film)
|The Princess Bride|
Theatrical Release poster
|Directed by||Rob Reiner|
|Screenplay by||William Goldman|
|Based on||The Princess Bride
by William Goldman
|Narrated by||Peter Falk|
|Music by||Mark Knopfler|
|Editing by||Robert Leighton|
|Studio||ACT III Communications|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox
(USA & Canada)
(VHS & DVD)
|Running time||98 minutes|
The Princess Bride is a 1987 American romantic comedy adventure film directed and co-produced by Rob Reiner. It is based on the 1973 novel of the same name by William Goldman, an American novelist, playwright and screenwriter. 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. This 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 the United States, The Princess Bride has developed into a cult film since its release.
A young woman named Buttercup (Robin Wright) lives on a farm in the fictional country of Florin. Whenever she gives her farmhand Westley (Cary Elwes) an order, he answers "as you wish" and happily complies. Eventually, she realizes he loves her and admits her love for him. Westley leaves to seek his fortune so they can marry, but his ship is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who has a reputation for never leaving anyone alive.
Five years later, believing Westley dead, Buttercup reluctantly agrees to marry Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), heir to the throne of Florin. Before the wedding, she is kidnapped by three outlaws: an Sicilian boss named Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), a Turkish giant that Vizzini discovered in Greenland named Fezzik (André the Giant), and a Spanish master fencer named Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), who seeks revenge against the six-fingered man who killed his father. The outlaws are pursued by two separate forces: Prince Humperdinck with a complement of soldiers, and a masked man in black. Unbeknownst to Buttercup, Prince Humperdinck actually hired the three outlaws to kidnap her and kill her, leaving her on the shores of Guilder, a rival country, in order to manufacture a war between the two countries.
The man in black catches up to the outlaws at the top of the Cliffs of Insanity, where he first defeats Inigo in a duel before knocking him unconscious. He then defeats Fezzik in hand-to-hand combat by choking him from behind until he blacks out. Finally, he kills Vizzini in a battle of the wits by tricking him into drinking from a poisoned chalice, and so he captures Buttercup. When he tells her he is Roberts, she becomes enraged at him for killing Westley and shoves him into a gorge after telling him that he should die too, but she realizes he is Westley himself when he replies "As you wish!" She dives into the gorge after him, and they flee through the dangerous Fire Swamp where they navigate past the R.O.U.S. (Rodents of Unusual Size), fire spouts, and lightning sand. When they are captured on the other side by Humperdinck and his sadistic six-fingered vizier Count Rugen (Christopher Guest), Buttercup agrees to return with Humperdinck in exchange for Westley's release, but Humperdinck secretly has Rugen imprison and torture Westley.
When Buttercup expresses unhappiness at marrying Humperdinck, he promises to search for Westley, but his real plan is to start a war with the neighboring country of Guilder by killing Buttercup and framing them for her death. After Buttercup realizes that Humperdinck has no intention of finding Westley, she taunts his cowardice and feelings of inferiority towards his romantic rival. Enraged, Humperdinck tortures Westley to his death. Meanwhile, Inigo and Fezzik reunite, and Fezzik informs Inigo of Rugen's existence. Inigo decides that they need the help of the man in black to get into the castle, and when he hears cries of anguish (from Westley being tortured), he decides that they must be from the man in black and follows them. Inigo and Fezzik arrive in Rugen's torture chamber to find Westley dead, but they bring him to a miracle man named Miracle Max (Billy Crystal), who explains that Westley is "only mostly dead," reviving him to a state of heavy paralysis.
Westley, Inigo, and Fezzik invade the castle, prompting Humperdinck to order a drastically abridged version of the wedding ceremony, after which he rushes Buttercup to her chambers and locks her in. Inigo finds and duels with Rugen, and despite incurring heavy blood loss from stab wounds in the opening moments of the battle, he is able to maintain his focus by repeatedly reciting his long-rehearsed greeting of vengeance ("Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.") and eventually slays his nemesis.
Westley finds Buttercup, who is about to commit suicide, and assures her that her marriage is invalid because she never said "I do." When confronted by Humperdinck, Westley bluffs his way out of a duel (due to his temporary paralysis) and has Humperdinck tied to a chair, left to contemplate his cowardice. Triumphant, he then rides away with Buttercup, Inigo, and Fezzik on four white horses that Fezzik conveniently discovers.
Westley and Buttercup share a passionate kiss. The grandfather then closes the book and prepares to leave, but the boy asks him to read the story again the next day. The grandfather smiles and replies, "As you wish."
- Cary Elwes as Westley, a farmboy and Buttercup's love interest.
- Robin Wright as Buttercup, Princess of Florin and Westley's love interest.
- Chris Sarandon as Prince Humperdinck, heir to the throne of Florin, who becomes engaged to Buttercup.
- Christopher Guest as Count Tyrone Rugen, the vizier of Prince Humperdinck. He has six fingers on his right hand.
- Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya, a Spaniard who has trained in fencing for twenty years to the point of fighting left-handed so as to prolong his duels. He seeks revenge upon Count Rugen for the murder of his father.
- André the Giant as Fezzik, a giant and companion of Inigo.
- Wallace Shawn as Vizzini, a self-described criminal genius of Sicilian origin and the employer of Inigo and Fezzik.
- Billy Crystal as Miracle Max, the last miracle worker in Florin, who was fired by Humperdinck many years ago, and saves Westley's life to get revenge on the Prince.
- Carol Kane as Valerie, Max's wife.
- Peter Cook as The Impressive Clergyman, the clergyman at Humperdinck and Buttercup's wedding; he cannot pronounce "R"s or "L"s.
- Mel Smith as The Albino, assistant torturer to Count Rugen.
- Margery Mason as The Ancient Booer, a woman in Buttercup's dreams.
- Malcolm Storry as Yellin, a soldier of Florin.
- Willoughby Gray as The King, father of Prince Humperdinck.
- Anne Dyson as The Queen, mother of Prince Humperdinck.
- Peter Falk as Grandpa/Narrator.
- Fred Savage as The Grandson.
- Betsy Brantley as The Mother.
There had been many attempts to turn the novel into a film. In 1973 20th Century Fox paid Goldman $500,000 for the film rights and to do a screenplay. Richard Lester was signed to direct and the movie was almost made but then the head of production at Fox was fired and the project was put back in hiatus. Goldman subsequently bought back the film rights to the novel with his own money. The movie almost got financed several times over the next decade - at one stage in the early 80s Christopher Reeve was interested in playing Westley - before Rob Reiner fell in love with the book and managed to secure funding from Norman Lear.
The film was shot in various locations in England and Ireland:
- Carl Wark, Sheffield, England
- Burnham Beeches, Buckinghamshire, England
- Cave Dale, Castleton, Derbyshire, England
- Bradley Rocks and Robin Hood's Stride, Birchover, Derbyshire, England
- Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland (for the Cliffs of Insanity)
- Haddon Hall, Bakewell, Derbyshire, England
Although Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin did learn to fence (both left- and right-handed) for the film (reportedly spending all their free time during the production practicing with fencing instructor Bob Anderson and with each other), the actual swordfight scene between them was filmed using two separate, mirror-imaged, sets, allowing the illusion that they were equally skilled with either hand. They actually performed all of the fencing in the swordfight scene; but stunt doubles were used for the two somersaults.
Popular professional wrestler André the Giant had undergone major back surgery prior to filming and, despite his great size and strength, could not support the weight of Cary Elwes or Robin Wright for a scene at the end of the film. For the wrestling scene, when Elwes was pretending to hang on André's back, he was actually walking on a series of ramps below the camera during close-ups. For the wide shots, a stunt double took the place of André.
The original soundtrack album was composed by Mark Knopfler, and released by Warner Bros. Records in the United States and Vertigo Records internationally in November 1987. The album contains the song "Storybook Love", performed by Willy DeVille and co-written with Mark Knopfler. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 60th Academy Awards.
In his audio commentary of the film on the Special Edition DVD, director Rob Reiner said that only Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits could create a soundtrack to capture the film's quirky yet romantic nature. Reiner was an admirer of Knopfler's work but did not know him before working on the film. He sent the script to him hoping he would agree to score the film. Knopfler agreed on one condition: that somewhere in the film Reiner would include the USS Coral Sea (CV-43) baseball cap (modified to say USS Ooral Sea) he wore as Marty DiBergi in This is Spinal Tap. Reiner was unable to produce the original cap, but did include a similar cap in the grandson's room. Later Knopfler said he was joking.
It received highly favorable reviews from critics, including Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times who gave the film a "two thumbs up" rating on their television program Siskel and Ebert and The Movies. Ebert also wrote a very favorable print review. Richard Corliss of Time said the film was fun for the whole family, and later, Time listed the film as one of the "Best of '87." Janet Maslin of The New York Times praised the cast and the sweetness of the movie.
Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a core of 96% based on reviews from 48 critics. Metacritic gives the film a "generally favorable" average score of 77% based on reviews from 22 critics.
The Princess Bride was not a major box-office success, but after its release to the home video market, it became a cult classic. The film is widely regarded as eminently quotable and has been referred to as "The Wizard of Oz of our time."
In 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted The Princess Bride the 38th greatest comedy film of all time. In 2006, William Goldman's screenplay was selected by the Writers Guild of America as the 84th best screenplay of all time; it earned the same ranking in the Guild's 2013 update. The film has a percentage of 96 on Rotten Tomatoes. The film was selected number 88 on The American Film Institute's (AFI) "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions" listing the 100 greatest film love stories of all time. BBC Radio 5's resident film critic, Mark Kermode, is a fan of the film, frequently considering it a model to which similar films aspire.
- American Film Institute Lists
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs – Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions – No. 88
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
- "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father; Prepare to die!" – Nominated
- AFI's 10 Top 10 – Nominated Fantasy Film
In December 2011, director Jason Reitman staged a live dramatic reading of The Princess Bride script at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), with Paul Rudd as Westley; Mindy Kaling as Buttercup; Patton Oswalt as Vizzini; Kevin Pollak as Miracle Max; Goran Visnjic as Inigo Montoya; Cary Elwes (switching roles) as Humperdinck; director Rob Reiner as the grandfather; and Fred Savage reprising his role as the grandson.
In North America, the film was released on VHS and laserdisc in 1988 by Nelson Entertainment, the latter being a "bare bones" release in unmatted full screen. New Line Home Video reissued the VHS in 1994.
The Criterion Collection released a matted widescreen version, bare bones version on laserdisc in 1989, supplementing it with liner notes. In 1997 Criterion re-released the laserdisc as a "Special Edition". This edition was widescreen and included an audio commentary by Rob Reiner, William Goldman, Andrew Scheinman, Billy Crystal, and Peter Falk; excerpts from the novel read by Rob Reiner; behind the scenes footage; a production scrapbook by unit photographer Clive Coote; design sketches by production designer Norman Garwood; and excerpts from the television series Morton and Hayes, directed by Christopher Guest.
By 2000, MGM had acquired some rights to the film (as part of the aforementioned "Epic Productions" package) and released the film on VHS and DVD. The DVD release featured the soundtrack remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 with the film in wide and full screen versions, and included the original US theatrical trailer. The next year MGM re-released the film in another widescreen "Special Edition", this time with two audio commentaries—one by Rob Reiner, the other by William Goldman—"As You Wish", "Promotional", and "Making Of" featurettes;[clarification needed] a "Cary Elwes Video Diary"; the US and UK theatrical trailers; four television spots; a photo gallery; and a collectible booklet. In 2006 MGM released a two-disc set with varying covers—the "Dread Pirate" and "Buttercup" editions. Each featured their respective character, but had had identical features: in addition to the features in the previous release were, the "Dread Pirate Roberts: Greatest Legend of the Seven Seas", "Love is Like a Storybook Story", and "Miraculous Make Up" featurettes, "The Quotable Battle Of Wits" game, and Fezzik's "Guide To Florin" booklet.
Another year later, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the film, MGM and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released the film with flippable cover art featuring the title displayed in an ambigram. This DVD did not include any of the bonus features from the older editions, but had new short featurettes and a new game. A Blu-ray Disc was released on March 17, 2009, encoded in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Special features include two audio commentaries, the original theatrical trailer and eight featurettes.
It was announced that Tony Award-winning composer Adam Guettel was working with William Goldman on a musical adaptation of The Princess Bride in 2006. The project was abandoned though, in February 2007 after Goldman reportedly demanded 75 percent of the author's share, even though Guettel was writing both the music and the lyrics. Some of Guettel's music for the production has since surfaced in concert performances and workshops.
In 2008, PlayRoom Entertainment released The Princess Bride: Storming the Castle, a board game based on the film.
- "50 Greatest Comedy Films". Channel4.com. Channel 4. January 27, 2010. Retrieved October 30, 2011.
- ""The Princess Bride" becomes part of the Midnight Madness at the Rialto". Retrieved October 31, 2011.
- Schlesinger to Direct West Work. Haber, Joyce. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 19 Sep 1973: d12.
- Goldman, 2000 p 25-26
- William Goldman, The Big Picture?: Who Killed Hollywood and Other Essays, Applause, 2000 p 189
- Goldman, 2000 p 27
- Reiner, Rob. The Princess Bride. DVD Audio Commentary. Directed by Rob Reiner. 1987; Santa Monica, CA: MGM Home Entertainment, 2001. (see Ch. 06, time 17:45)
- Reiner, Rob. The Princess Bride. DVD Audio Commentary. Directed by Rob Reiner. 1987; Santa Monica, CA: MGM Home Entertainment, 2001. (see Ch. 08, time 25:40)
- Allmusic "The Princess Bride". Retrieved 2011-11-23.
- Gray Streeter, Leslie (9 December 2007). "'The Princess Bride' Turns 20". The Palm Beach Post. Text "[w]as a modest hit[...]" ignored (help)
- "The Princess Bride (1987". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-09-27.
- Clark, Mike (25 September 1987). "Reiner's 'Princess' is charming". USA Today. "Despite a $16 million budget, [...]"
- "''At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert'' review". Bventertainment.go.com. Retrieved 2010-08-05.[dead link]
- Roger Ebert (October 9, 1987). "The Princess Bride". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Richard Corliss (September 21, 1987). "Errol Flynn Meets Gunga Din THE PRINCESS BRIDE". Time.
- "Best of '87", Time, January 4, 1988.
- Janet Maslin (September 25, 1987). "New York Times review".
- "The Princess Bride (1987)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
- http://www.metacritic.com/movie/the-princess-bride CBS Metacritic
- "‘Princess Bride’ Reunion, Thanks to Entertainment Weekly Magazine". Retrieved November 1, 2011.
- Savage, Sophia (February 27, 2013). "WGA Lists Greatest Screenplays, From 'Casablanca' and 'Godfather' to 'Memento' and 'Notorious'". Retrieved February 28, 2013.
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees
- AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot
- Breznican, Anthony (December 30, 2011). "'The Princess Bride' Comes Alive!". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 7, 2012.
- Billboard (May 21, 1994), page 55.)
- MGM Press Rlease: The Princess Bride (Blu-ray), Home Theater Forum, 2009-02-04.
- "Itunes – Princess Bride". Retrieved October 31, 2011.
- Riedel, Michael (16 February 2007). "'Bride' Not to Be While Broderick Balks at 'Producers'". New York Post. Retrieved 2007-03-19.
- The Princess Bride: Storming the Castle | Board Game | BoardGameGeek
- Goldman, William, Which Lie Did They Tell?, Bloomsbury, 2000
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: The Princess Bride (film)|
- Official website
- The Princess Bride at the Internet Movie Database
- The Princess Bride at the TCM Movie Database
- The Princess Bride at AllRovi
- The Princess Bride at Box Office Mojo
- The Princess Bride at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Princess Bride at Metacritic