THE PRINCESS BRIDE
Review by Michael Jacobson
Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, , Chris Sarandon, Christopher
Guest, Wallace Shawn, Andre the Giant June 13, 2006
Director: Rob Reiner
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 98 Minutes
June 13, 2006
few more steps, and we’ll be safe in the Fire Swamp!”
You’re only saying that because no one ever has!”
Princess Bride was a film that brought the fairy tale back to vivid life with a winning
mixture of comedy, romance, adventure and fantasy.
It was the third film for director Rob Reiner, and though it was a bit
slow at finding an audience at first, it’s a move whose reputation has
blossomed over time by word of mouth and by adults sharing it with their kids to
become one of the most beloved pictures of the past two decades.
by a simple narrative structure in which a grandfather (Peter Falk) reads his
sick grandson (Fred Savage) a story that comes to take a life of its own.
That story is the romance between the beautiful Buttercup (Wright, in her
first movie role) and Westley (Elwes)…a love tale interrupted by fate when he
is reportedly murdered by pirates, and when she becomes the mournful fiancé to
Prince Humperdinck (Sarandon).
designs on Buttercup are far more sinister than a mere marriage…he plans to
use her as a pawn to start a war with a neighboring kingdom.
With the aid of the wicked Vizzini (Shawn) and his two noble and
reluctant assistants, the Spaniard Inigo (Patinkin) and the giant Fezzik
(Andre), he plots the kidnapping of his bride-to-be.
But the rumors of
Westley’s death were greatly exaggerated; soon he returns to take up the
chase, and reunited with his love and his two good hearted friends, he begins to
unravel the prince’s sinister plot and turn the tables on him.
fairy tale in the late 1980s might have seemed a risky venture…it would have
been far too easy for a picture to fall into the traps of cheesy melodrama and
audience disbelief, while at the same time, rather difficult to find a center of
true magic and spirit. The fact
that The Princess Bride succeeds is owing to many sources:
the brilliant screenplay by William Goldman, based on his own novel, the
sure footed direction of Rob Reiner, who allowed his characters a bit of humor
by letting them in on the fun of the movie, and of course, the tremendous cast.
and Wright are perfect as the romantic couple.
Their chemistry and love for one another wins us over as it does the
rather cynical heart of the young grandson, who finds himself caught up in their
romance in spite of himself. Mandy
Patinkin brings warmth, humor and swashbuckling style to Inigo (as well as
providing the film with one of its most quoted lines), and the lumbering, gentle
Andre the Giant, despite some language difficulties and problems with reading,
is lovable as Fezzik, the man whose large frame is eclipsed only by the size of
good are the delightfully pompous Sarandon as Humperdinck, who injects his role
with just the right amount of self-importance, and Christopher Guest as the
villainous Count Rugen, who provides the picture with its best subplot.
Throw in brief but effective roles by Billy Crystal and Carol Kane, and
you’ve got the magic of a true once-in-a-lifetime cast.
and I’d be completely remiss if I didn’t mention the beautiful score by Mark
Knopfler, who originally told Rob Reiner his condition for writing the music was
that the director put the cap he wore in This Is Spinal Tap somewhere in
the picture. It ended up in the
grandson’s bedroom…and later, in an open letter on the soundtrack CD,
Knopfler told Reiner he was only kidding about it.
The Princess Bride grew in popularity, it also became one of
Hollywood’s most quoted films. To
this day, my friends and I occasionally trade lines with smiles on our faces.
You can walk up to just about anybody and say, “Hello, my name is Inigo
Mantoya…” and that person will finish the line for you.
Everyone has a favorite…personally, when things are going badly, I’ve
always liked to quip, “Why don’t you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon
juice on it?”.
the way the film has infused itself into our popular culture is only proof of
the status it has acquired. The
artists involved gave it their all, and the resulting film is funny, romantic,
poetic, exciting and heartwarming. It’s
a true contemporary classic, and I have no doubt that it will always be
remembered with great love and fondness by fans everywhere.
The Princess Bride
is beautifully rendered on DVD, capturing its magical world of colors and
images quite perfectly. Brightly
lit outdoors are gorgeous and natural, with full palates of color coming across
with integrity and containment. Darker
scenes, such as the Fire Swamp and the Pit of Despair, exhibit no grain or
softness, and maintain detail despite sporadic lighting.
This disc was definitely worth the wait.
5.1 soundtrack is even better than expected, with this rich, digital remix
giving the listening experience life and opening it up very nicely.
Musical cues get the benefit of multi-channel capabilities, as bits of
orchestration emanate from the rear speakers for ambience.
Other scenes that call for effects make even better use of your system,
such as the Shrieking Eels or some of the more clamorous sword fights.
Dynamic range is quite good throughout, and dialogue is clear and
is a tremendous package, starting with TWO commentary tracks; one by director
Rob Reiner, the other by writer William Goldman. Both are enjoyable and informative. There is a new documentary, “As You Wish”, featuring
brand new cast and crew interviews and fond looks back at the movie (the most
touching is the shared memories of Andre the Giant, whom everybody loved).
There are two older featurettes, one a making-of and one promotional,
plus several trailers, and a really nice extra, an assemblage of footage shot by
Cary Elwes during the production, with narration by himself and Robin Wright.
Rounding out is a trivia game, a vintage making-of documentary, a photo gallery, collectible booklet, and a 'historical analysis' on the Dread Pirate Roberts.