The Princess Bride - 1987

Directed by Rob Reiner. Written by William Goldman.Starring: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Andre the Giant, Wallace Shawn.

Should you wish some brief respite from the earthly shackles that keep snow from July, integrity from politics, and the nightly news from good news, The Princess Bride will answer, "As You Wish," as it tucks you in and takes you away.

Plot: What better way for a young boy to spend sick-time at home than to grab the game controls, turn on the TV, and play a little video baseball? How about a visit from Grandpa? A young boy finds no consolation to the interruption of his electronic pastime in the fact that his loving grandfather has come bearing a gift, when that gift is just a book. But Grandpa has come prepared to read to him because in his day, "television was books." As Grandpa reads the same story to his grandson as his father had read to him and that he had read to his grandsons' father, he takes the young boy on a great adventure where the only controls to maneuver are linked to his imagination. Thus begins the fantasy adventure of The Princess Bride, an adventure filled with true love, sword fights, revenge, scathing monarchs, and an old man that can perform a miracle or two to boot.

Like the cereal "Trix," The Princess Bride is not just for kids. It is an opportunity to unbuckle all the mature restrictions and float somewhere where dreams are unabashed and miracles can happen. Whether as many adults whom wish so would admit to wanting such an escape, if you pop this movie into your VCR no one will know but you and the clerk at the video rental. And, if you're a parent, than there is no greater excuse to watch this movie.

The Princess Bride is great fun because it is well-rounded with humor, action and fantasy.But it also manages to carry a few moral messages as easily as the great giant carries the delicate Princess. There is a message of how the sublime pastime of reading stands threatened by technology, and it reminds us about the simple pleasures of reading to our children. Even within the fantasy tale, there is a message about the gift of true love and its' power. The story can even make you believe in miracles again.

My favorite scene is the sword fight between Westley (Cary Elwes) and Inigo (Mandy Patinkin). Watching this scene is like being thrilled by the most accomplished dancers, athletes or magicians. After learning that neither actor had previous fencing experience, I watch this scene with an even greater admiration for the accomplishment.

The movie finds humor throughout, without being sarcastic. It even manages to have a little fun with the old "swash buckling, damsel in distress" movies from which this movie draws, but does so with a kind of deference to those movies that leaves them unscathed and this movie the better for it. The comedic aspects never hit you over the head, as they are evenly laced with moments of poignancy, action, and sheer fantasy.

The Princess Bride is not a grandiose, multi-million dollar, controversial or thought provoking Hollywood blockbuster. Rather this movie might be considered the welcome counterpart to such films; where the grandiose is in the heart, the price is in the priceless, and the thoughts are held in dreams.

THE PRINCESS BRIDE movie data base.


THE REAL CASTLE Haddon Hall in Derbyshire, England.

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