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Inconceivable! ‘The Princess Bride’ Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary

The Princess Bride is a lot more than just a ‘kissing’ book.
By  · Published on September 25th, 2017

The Princess Bride is a lot more than just a ‘kissing’ book.

“As You Wish.” “Inconceivable.” “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” These are but some of the quotes that have originated from the legendary film, The Princess Bride.

The Princess Bride has had an unimaginable effect on viewers of all ages. For thirty years, the love story between Westly (Cary Elwes) and Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright) has captivated and endured. For many, they’ve had their minds blown when they discovered a movie entitled The Princess Bride wasn’t just some romantic comedy. In fact, The Princess Bride denies characterization as it effortlessly transitions from a love story to a comedy to an action-adventure and so much more.

The Princess Bride begins with many of the same questions its audience may have. A young Fred Savage asks his grandfather (Peter Falk) what a book is and whether or not this particular book has ‘kissing’ in it.  Grandfather assures that this book has everything from monsters, revenge, pirates and more. And that more would also be one of cinemas’ most endearing romances.

The book tells of a lowly farmer boy named Westly who has won over the heart of the lovely Princess Buttercup. Westly decides that he must have more to offer his love and goes off in search of fortune and glory. When the years pass without his return, Buttercup has agreed to marry Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) and give up on her true love. Nothing is ever as straightforward as it seems and Buttercup is captured by some thieves. They are known as Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), Fezzik (Andre the Giant), and Indigo (Mandy Patinkin). Hijinks ensue and the Dread Pirate Roberts chases down the bandits. He reveals himself to be Westly, Buttercup’s one true love, but will they be able to be together now that Buttercup is promised to Humperdinck? Want to know more? Well, you’ll just have to ask grandfather to continue the story.

True love plays a big part in the events of The Princess Bride. Instead of saying I love you, Westly and Buttercup share their feelings through the saying “As You Wish.”Since its usage in The Princess Bride as a saying of love, it has been used by fans all over the world to express love to one another. The true love between Westly and Buttercup is tested time and time again throughout the film. There is even a sequence where Miracle Max (Billy Crystal) is asked to revive the fallen Westly because true love is so rare it is to be cherished beyond all else. Heavy material for a children’s film for sure, but The Princess Bride laughs at traditional storytelling conventions.

Now for some interesting facts about The Princess Bride. Andre the Giant is one of the most beloved parts of The Princess Bride, but the giant had some health issues. Whether it was having Cary Elwes stand on a box while pretending to ride his back, or having Robin Wright supported by wires when she was in Andre’s arms, Andre the Giant needed support from props and wires. Director Rob Reiner does actually have a part in the film. He plays the voice of the R.O.U.S. aka the rats of unusual size. And even though Vizzini and Westly have a match of wits over iocaine powder, iocaine powder doesn’t actually exist. There are actually a lot more intriguing facts about The Princess Bride in the films’ commentary track.

One of the most captivating sequences in the film comes from the sword fight between Westly and Indigo. It is, in fact, a scene we love from the film. In the script, it was simply written as,

And what we are starting now is one of the two greatest sword fights in modern movies (the other one happens later on), and right from the beginning it looks different.

Because they aren’t close to each other — none of the swordscrossing “en garde” garbage.

No, what we have here is two men, two athletes, and they look to be too faraway to damage each other, but each time one makes even the tiniest feint, the other counters, and
there is silence, and as they start to circle —

Cary Elwes after the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival Live-Read

Creating one of the two greatest sword fights in modern movies is no small task. Amazingly, The Princess Bride pulls it off and it is still one of better swordfights captured on screen. It was actually one of the last sequences shot for the film because it took countless hours of training on the parts of Elwes and Patinkin. They managed to do all their own stunts except for one backflip that Patinkin’s Indigo does during the fight.

What many fans of The Princess Bride will tell you, is that the film holds a special place above many other films. Whether it was a specific time in their life that Princess Bride first was introduced to them or a shared memory with a loved one, the film has grown in popularity throughout the years due to its endearing story and memorable lines. As part of the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015, Jason Reitman (Director of Juno) presented a live read of the script. Being part of that night was a particular joy of mine and an unforgettable experience as Cary Elwes, Rachel McAdams, Donald Glover, and Sir Patrick Stewart among a terrific cast recited lines from the classic film. For many others, The Princess Bride reminds them of a time enjoying a film with their family that everyone can enjoy.

For thirty years,  The Princess Bride has continued to captivate audiencesThe movie has a permanent spot in pop culture for many of its memorable character, infinitely quotable lines and the timeless romance between Westly and Princess Buttercup. May this tale of filled with laughs, swordfights, and passion continue to bring joy to those who’ve experienced for the first time or the hundredth.

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News Writer/Columnist for Film School Rejects. It’s the Pictures Co-host. Bylines Playboy, ZAM, Paste Magazine and more.