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The Princess Bride is a 1987 American romantic fantasy adventure comedy-drama film directed and co-produced by Rob Reiner, and starring Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Wallace Shawn, André the Giant and Christopher Guest. Adapted by William Goldman from his 1973 novel of the same name, it tells the story of 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.

The Princess Bride
Princess bride.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Rob Reiner
Produced by
Screenplay by William Goldman
Based on The Princess Bride
by William Goldman
Starring
Music by Mark Knopfler
Cinematography Adrian Biddle
Edited by Robert Leighton
Production
company
Distributed by
Release date
  • September 25, 1987 (1987-09-25)
Running time
98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $16 million
Box office $30.9 million

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.[1] In 2016, the film was inducted into the National Film Registry, being deemed as "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant".[2]

Contents

PlotEdit

The film is an enactment of the following story read by a sick boy's grandfather as the boy sits in bed listening, framed and occasionally interrupted by scenes of the reading.

A beautiful young woman named Buttercup lives on a farm in the fictional country of Florin. Whenever she orders the farmhand Westley to do chores for her, he complies and answers, "As you wish." 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.

Five years later, believing Westley is dead, Buttercup reluctantly agrees to marry Prince Humperdinck, heir to the throne of Florin. Before the wedding, she is kidnapped by three outlaws: a short Sicilian boss named Vizzini, a gigantic wrestler from Greenland named Fezzik, and a Spanish fencing master named Inigo Montoya, who seeks revenge against the six-fingered man who killed his father. The outlaws are pursued by Prince Humperdinck with a complement of soldiers, and also by a masked man in black.

The man in black catches up to the outlaws at the top of the Cliffs of Insanity, where he defeats Inigo in a duel and knocks him unconscious, chokes Fezzik until he blacks out, and kills Vizzini by tricking him into drinking poison. He takes Buttercup prisoner and they flee, stopping to rest at the edge of a gorge. When Buttercup correctly guesses that he is the Dread Pirate Roberts, she becomes enraged at him for killing Westley; as he suddenly notices Humperdinck and his men appear in the distance, she shoves him down into the gorge and wishes death upon him. She then realizes he is Westley himself when he replies, "As you wish!" She throws herself into the gorge after him, and together they enter the dangerous Fire Swamp. When they are captured on the other side of the Fire Swamp by Humperdinck and his sadistic six-fingered vizier Count Rugen, Buttercup agrees to return with Humperdinck in exchange for Westley's release. However, Humperdinck secretly orders Rugen to lock Westley in the castle torture chamber.

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 Guilder for her death. Buttercup taunts Humperdinck after learning that he never tried to find Westley. Enraged, Humperdinck tortures Westley almost to death. Meanwhile, Inigo and Fezzik meet when Humperdinck orders a gang of goons to arrest the thieves in a nearby forest, and Fezzik tells Inigo about Rugen. Inigo decides that they need Westley's help to get into the castle, and when he hears cries of anguish, he realizes they must be from Westley. Inigo and Fezzik find Westley and fear him dead. Upon bringing him to a "miracle man", however, they learn that Westley is "only mostly dead", and the miracle man revives him to a state of heavy paralysis.

After Westley, Inigo, and Fezzik invade the castle, Humperdinck orders the wedding ceremony shortened and Inigo finds and kills Rugen in a duel, repeatedly reciting his greeting of vengeance: "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." Westley finds Buttercup, who is about to commit suicide, and assures her that her marriage is invalid because she never said "I do." Still partly paralyzed, he bluffs his way out of a duel with Humperdinck, shares a passionate kiss with Buttercup, then rides away with Buttercup, Inigo, and Fezzik.

Back in the boy's bedroom, the boy asks his grandfather to read the story to him again the next day, to which the grandfather replies, "As you wish", which, as he explained earlier, means "I love you."

CastEdit

Framing storyEdit

Main storyEdit

ProductionEdit

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.[3][4] Richard Lester was signed to direct and the movie was almost made, but the head of production at Fox was fired and the project was put on hiatus. Goldman subsequently bought back the film rights to the novel with his own money.[5] The movie was almost financed several times over the next decade—at one stage in the early 1980s, Christopher Reeve was interested in playing Westley[6]—before Rob Reiner managed to secure funding from Norman Lear.[7]

 
The Cliffs of Insanity are actually the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Ireland.

The film was shot in various locations in Great Britain and Ireland:

Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin learned to fence (both left- and right-handed) for the film (reportedly spending all their free time during the production practicing with fencing instructors Bob Anderson and Peter Diamond, and with each other). The actors performed all of the fencing in the sword fight scene personally, although stunt doubles were used for the two somersaults.[9]

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 during their fight scene 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.[10] When he was apparently carrying Wright, she was actually suspended by cables.[11]

In 2014, Cary Elwes wrote a behind-the-scenes account of the film's production. "As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride" was co-written with Joe Layden and debuted at #3 on the New York Times Bestseller list.[12][13] In addition to a foreword by director Rob Reiner and a limited edition poster, the book includes exclusive photos and interviews with the cast members from the 25th anniversary cast reunion, as well as unique stories and set secrets from the making of the film.[14]

SoundtrackEdit

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 produced by Mark Knopfler. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 60th Academy Awards.[15]

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 (which had been modified to say "USS Ooral Sea OV-4B") 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. Knopfler later said he was joking.

ReceptionEdit

Box officeEdit

The film was initially a modest success,[16] grossing $30.8 million at the United States and Canada box office,[17] on a $16 million production budget.[18]

Critical responseEdit

The Princess Bride received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 97% "Certified Fresh" rating, based on 64 reviews, with an average rating of 8.3/10. The site's consensus states: "A delightfully postmodern fairy tale, The Princess Bride is a deft, intelligent mix of swashbuckling, romance, and comedy that takes an age-old damsel-in-distress story and makes it fresh."[19] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 77 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[20]

Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert gave the film a "two thumbs up" rating on their television program.[21] Ebert also wrote a very favorable print review in his column for the Chicago Sun-Times.[22] Richard Corliss of Time said the film was fun for the whole family,[23] and later, Time listed the film as one of the "Best of '87".[24] Janet Maslin of The New York Times praised the cast and the sweetness of the film.[25]

LegacyEdit

The Princess Bride was not a major box-office success, but it became a cult classic after its release to the home video market. The film is widely regarded as eminently quotable.[26][27]

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.[28] 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.[citation needed].

American Film Institute lists

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.[32]

In 2013, director Ari Folman released a live action/animation film, The Congress, directly referencing the film and starring Robin Wright herself as a digitally cloned actress.

Post-theatrical releaseEdit

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.[33]

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 the US home video rights to the film (as part of the "pre-1996 Polygram film library" 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 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 (whose parent company 20th Century Fox continues to hold all US rights to the film except for US home video rights) 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.[34]

In 2007, the film was released for download in the iTunes Store.[35]

The film is also available in Region 2 where it is published by Lions Gate Entertainment. Its extras are the theatrical trailer and text filmographies.

AdaptationsEdit

It was announced that composer Adam Guettel was working with William Goldman on a musical adaptation of The Princess Bride in 2006. The project was abandoned 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.[36] Some of Guettel's music for the production has since surfaced in concert performances and workshops.[citation needed]

In 2008, PlayRoom Entertainment released The Princess Bride: Storming the Castle, a board game based on the film.[37]

The Princess Bride Game is a casual video game developed and published by New York game development studio Worldwide Biggies.[38][39]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "50 Greatest Comedy Films". Channel4.com. Channel 4. January 27, 2010. Retrieved October 30, 2011. 
  2. ^ "'Lion King,' 'Princess Bride,' 'The Birds' Among Additions To Film Registry". NPR.org. Retrieved 15 December 2016. 
  3. ^ Weiler, A. H. (30 September 1973). "News of the Screen". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 April 2017. 
  4. ^ "Schlesinger to Direct West Work." Haber, Joyce. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 19 September 1973: d12.
  5. ^ Goldman, 2000 p 25-26
  6. ^ William Goldman, The Big Picture?: Who Killed Hollywood and Other Essays, Applause, 2000 p 189
  7. ^ Goldman, 2000 p 27
  8. ^ Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office The Princess Bride Film Focus". 
  9. ^ 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)
  10. ^ 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)
  11. ^ "Wright: 'Giant Was In So Much Pain On The Princess Bride Set'". Contactmusic.com. 10 March 2010. Retrieved 2015-10-20. 
  12. ^ New York Times Best Sellers List - Hardcover Nonfiction 
  13. ^ Cary Elwes: Biography 
  14. ^ "As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride", Simon & Schuster 
  15. ^ "The Princess Bride". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-23. 
  16. ^ Gray Streeter, Leslie (9 December 2007). "'The Princess Bride' Turns 20". The Palm Beach Post. [w]as a modest hit[...] 
  17. ^ "The Princess Bride (1987". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-09-27. 
  18. ^ Clark, Mike (25 September 1987). "Reiner's 'Princess' is charming". USA Today. Despite a $16 million budget, [...] 
  19. ^ "The Princess Bride (1987)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2015-03-17. 
  20. ^ "The Princess Bride". Metacritic. CBS. 
  21. ^ "''At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert'' review". Bventertainment.go.com. Archived from the original on April 1, 2007. Retrieved 2010-08-05. 
  22. ^ Roger Ebert (October 9, 1987). "The Princess Bride". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  23. ^ Richard Corliss (September 21, 1987). "Errol Flynn Meets Gunga Din THE PRINCESS BRIDE". Time. 
  24. ^ "Best of '87", Time, January 4, 1988.
  25. ^ Janet Maslin (September 25, 1987). "New York Times review". 
  26. ^ "'Princess Bride' Reunion, Thanks to Entertainment Weekly Magazine". Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  27. ^ "Reelviews Movie Reviews: The Princess Bride". January 4, 2002. Retrieved October 31, 2016. 
  28. ^ Savage, Sophia (February 27, 2013). "WGA Lists Greatest Screenplays, From 'Casablanca' and 'Godfather' to 'Memento' and 'Notorious'". Writers Guild of America, West. Archived from the original on March 6, 2013. 
  29. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees
  30. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees
  31. ^ "AFI.com Error" (PDF). afi.com. 
  32. ^ Breznican, Anthony (December 30, 2011). "'The Princess Bride' Comes Alive!". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  33. ^ Billboard (May 21, 1994), page 55.)
  34. ^ MGM Press Release: The Princess Bride (Blu-ray), Home Theater Forum, 2009-02-04.
  35. ^ "Itunes – Princess Bride". Retrieved October 31, 2011. 
  36. ^ Riedel, Michael (16 February 2007). "'Bride' Not to Be While Broderick Balks at 'Producers'". New York Post. Archived from the original on February 25, 2007. 
  37. ^ "The Princess Bride: Storming the Castle - Board Game - BoardGameGeek". boardgamegeek.com. 
  38. ^ Sinclair, Brenden (2007-10-03). "Princess Bride game conceivable". GameSpot. Retrieved 2008-06-03. 
  39. ^ McElroy, Justin (2007-10-03). "As you wish, Princess Bride game in development". Joystiq. Retrieved 2008-06-05. 
  • Goldman, William, Which Lie Did They Tell?, Bloomsbury, 2000

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit