Review: The Princess Bride - 25th Anniversary Edition / Cert: PG / Director: Rob Reiner / Screenplay: William Goldman / Starring: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Andre the Giant, Christopher Guest, Chris Sarandon, Peter Falk / Release Date: March 25th
The easiest way to review The Princess Bride, Rob Reiner’s 1988 adaptation of William Goldman’s classic romantic comedy novel, would be to recite the entire script; after all, that’s how the movie’s legion of devotees express their appreciation. But this rather charming and ramshackle little film deserves much more than just blind adoration. The Princess Bride is exciting, funny, clever and, in the end, deeply romantic. It’s inconceivable that a film this warm-hearted and this much fun was never a huge box office hit although it’s a textbook example of a movie which found its true audience in the home video arena.
In the beautiful fictional land of Florin the stunning Princess Buttercup (Wright) falls madly in love with handsome farmhand Westley (Elwes). Westley takes to the sea to find his fortune so the pair can marry but his ship is attacked by the notorious Dread Pirate Roberts and Westley’s presumed dead. Five years later and Buttercup is reluctantly engaged to the scheming Prince Humperdinck (Sarandon), heir to the throne of Florin. But Buttercup is kidnapped by three incompetent outlaws who plan to plunge Florin into war by implicating the neighbouring Guilder in her murder. Fortunately there’s a mysterious ‘man in black’ in hot pursuit as the bumbling trio flee with their prize and Buttercup finds she has a thrillingly unexpected rescuer.
Despite its occasional production shortcomings - the Cliffs of Insanity are conspicuously a soundstage and the ‘creatures’, including shrieking eels and the Rodents of Unusual Size, have a primitive, makeshift charm about them - The Princess Bride is a delight because it’s so random and shambolic. The humour, never cruel or crude, has shades of Monty Python/Terry Gilliam lunacy and whilst the budget clearly won’t quite stretch to the real spectacle the story demands, it’s still a rich and colourful experience (the Blu-ray image is startlingly good) and the world the film creates is utterly believable. The framing device - Peter Falk as a Grandfather reading the story to an initially-disinterested sick grandson - never descends into mawkishness and the film’s ultimate and strongest message, that love conquers all, avoids feeling cloying or sickly because the movie’s fairytale world is so richly drawn. This is a film that’s not only stood the test of time but has matured with age and it’s never been better served than on this glorious, lavish new Blu-ray edition.
Extras: Featurettes old and new / Commentaries / Trailers / TV spots / Image galleries.