Monday, November 23, 2020

Review: "THE PRINCESS BRIDE" Still Storming the Castle

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 21 (of 2020) by Leroy Douresseaux

[This review originally appeared on Patreon.]

The Princess Bride (1987)
Running time: 98 minutes (1 hour, 38 minutes)
DIRECTOR:  Rob Reiner
WRITER:  William Goldman (based on the book by William Goldman)
PRODUCERS:  Rob Reiner and Andrew Scheinman
EDITOR:  Robert Leighton
COMPOSER:  Mark Knopfler
Academy Award nominee


Starring:  Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, Andre the Giant, Fred Savage, Peter Falk, Carol Kane, and Billy Crystal

The Princess Bride is a 1987 fantasy-adventure and romantic film from director Rob Reiner.  The film is based on William Goldman's 1973 novel, The Princess Bride, for which Goldman wrote the screenplay adaptation.  2017 will mark the 30th anniversary of the film's release (October 9, 1987).  In The Princess Bride the film, a grandfather tells his grandson the story of a princess sought by two men who desire her – one a mysterious hero and the other a hateful prince.

The Princess Bride opens with a framing story in which The Grandfather (Peter Falk) reads a book, “The Princess Bride,” to The Grandson (Fred Savage), who is sick and relegated to his bed.  The story then travels from the present day of the Grandson's bedroom to the past of the Renaissance Era.  The place of arrival is a country named “Florin.”  There, we meet Buttercup (Robin Wright), a beautiful young woman, and Westley (Cary Elwes), the farmhand she loves to order around.  The truth is that Buttercup loves Westley, but one day, Westley leaves the farm to seek his fortune.

Later, Buttercup learns that Westley was on ship that was attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts and is assumed dead.  The story moves ahead five years, and Buttercup has reluctantly agreed to marry Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), Prince of Florin.  There are, however, conspiracies and conspirators afoot who stand in the way of that marriage.  This includes a Sicilian crime boss named Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), a giant named Fezzik (AndrĂ© the Giant), a Spanish master swordsman named Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), and a mysterious man in black.

Recently, IDW Publishing sent me a copy-for-review of their adult coloring book based on The Prince Bride, entitled The Princess Bride: A Storybook to Color.  I decided that I finally needed to sit down and watch The Princes Bride, start to finish, in its entirety, which I had never done.  Why had I not done that before?  I don't know.  I have always been curious about the movie, and I even owned a copy of William Goldman's novel a long time ago (which I lost before I could read it).

I can describe The Princess Bride as a multi-genre movie.  It is part medieval fantasy, part storybook romance, and part swashbuckling adventure (quietly and gently adventurous).  And the result is a damn fine movie.  I don't know what makes it work, but I think director Rob Reiner has a lot to do with that.  His directorial pace and mood suggests that he wanted this movie to be a storybook tale that found comedy in the elements of fairy tales and fantasy, but without mocking and parodying them.  Also, I think William Goldman's screenplay builds the characters using quirks and eccentricities so that he can poke fun at the players rather than at the genres that are their field of play.

The resulting film is an utterly delightful and a truly unique cinematic gem.  I don't think Reiner could get The Princess Bride made today, not without pumping it full of intense action and making extensive use of computer-generated imagery (CGI).  If made today, even the film's photography would be heavily altered and enhanced through the use of software.

The Princess Bride is essentially a “hand-made” movie, and somehow the talent involved in this film made magic.  I bet they did not realize that until they saw the finished film.  If you have not yet seen The Princess Bride, it is time for you to realize the magic, too.

9 of 10

Sunday, January 22, 2017

1988 Academy Awards, USA:  1 nomination: “Best Music, Original Song” (Willy DeVille for the song "Storybook Love")

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