Inconceivable! The Princess Bride was released thirty years ago today on September 25, 1987. As I listen to the film soundtrack and write this, I am filled with a sense of pride that I get to write this celebratory breakdown for Couch Crunchers. Despite the massive popularity of the film now, it was not that well received at the time. It performed modestly at the box office but wasn’t a “hit.” Instead, it didn’t receive its massive popularity until it hit home video. Today we all know the film as a classic and can quote it ad nauseam. From lines such as “inconceivable!” to “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die,” fans all around the world can’t stop quoting the film.
Any time I get into a rhyming battle, I can’t help but think of the interaction between Fezzik and Vizzini where Vizzini yells, “No more rhymes now, I mean it” and Fezzik expertly quips, “Anybody want a peanut?” Moments like these are what make for such a fun film. Obviously a lot of this credit can be given to the author of the book William Goldman. It would be outrageous not to give credit to the author for such a beautiful story. The film adaptation would not be possible without him. It is a classic that details the fight between good and evil and yet most everyone is actually a good person with a good heart excluding the King, Vizzini and Count Rugen.
Vizzini goes as far as to hire a giant and an expert swordsman to help him complete his plot to kidnap the King’s betrothed Buttercup yet his two “goons” are two of the most kind hearted men you will ever meet. When tasked with killing “The Man in Black”, both of them give him a fair chance and even become friends with him. For instance, the fight between Inigo and The Man in Black doesn’t start until they are both ready and they have had a chance to get to know one another. Yet another great and quotable line comes when Inigo states “You seem a decent fellow, I hate to kill you.” and Wesley replies, “You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die.”
Further to their interaction is that Inigo decides to fight with his left hand in order to give his foe a fighting chance. Little did he know he was up against the dread pirate Roberts who was also fighting with his left hand for similar reasons. The fight ultimately ends with Wesley, The Man in Black winning and yet another satisfying line. “I would sooner destroy a stained glass window as an artist like yourself. However, since I can’t have you following me either.”
Let us not forget, “twue wove”. This tale is ultimately about true love between Wesley and Buttercup. After a battle of the wits between Vizzini and Wesley, Buttercup and Wesley make their way to the Fire Swamps and set off to be together forever in their true love. In the swamps they discover shooting flame spurt, lightning sand and ROUSes (Rodents of Unusual Size) which they manage to fight their way through quite well, despite a few injuries on Wesley’s end.
Unfortunately they are caught by the king as they exit the swamps. Buttercup returns to the castle thinking that Wesley is being return to his ship when really he is kidnapped and tortured by the king. The film doesn’t let the story end their though. The wedding day of the King and Buttercup finally arrives. On this day, Inigo and Fezzik team back up to find the man in black who is now drained of life from the torture machine that Count Rugen designed.
Fezzik and Inigo take Wesley to Miracle Max (played by a much younger Billy Crystal) who they hope can bring Wesley back from the dead. This part of the film is one of my favorites and has some great lines such as “I’m not a witch, I’m your wife,” and “It just so happens your friend is mostly dead.” Director Rob Reiner had to leave set during the filming of these scenes because he would laugh so hard that it became a distraction. Miracle Max and his wife are a delightful couple who leave a massive impact even though their scene is only about 4 minutes of the entire film.
More hilarity ensues when they give Wesley the pill that Miracle Max made and he regains only a portion of his strength back, namely facial movements. Even still, they manage to put Fezzik in a massive cloak, push him in a wheelbarrow where he claims to be the dread pirate Roberts and light him on fire in front of dozens off guards thus frightening them away. Adding to the comedy is when they are inside the palace and Fezzik places Wesley strategically on a decorative knight in order to keep him safe while he, Fezzik goes to help Inigo. It’s all so silly and out of this world but yet charming and absolutely delightful. And of course, we cannot forget the priest at the wedding.
Finally, Wesley and the King confront one another again and Wesley manages to bluff his way into getting the king to surrender. Inigo gets his revenge against Count Rugen and Wesley and Buttercup live happily ever after. It’s a basic story but it is told beautifully. The mixture of action and comedy make for an excellent film that will continue to stand the test of time. In a day of remakes and reboots, I hope The Princess Bride never get the remake treatment. It is a film that needs no more as it stands elegantly and perfectly on its own. Congratulations to the film makers and all who made this classic a reality. We celebrate it with you on this 30th anniversary!
For more nostalgia, check out Stargate SG-1 is 20 years old!