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DVD Review: The Princess Bride (20th Anniversary Edition)

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Written by Pollo Misterioso

Everyone loves a good story, especially one that can stand the test of time. Twenty years later, after two decades of filmmaking, The Princess Bride (1987), a simple fairy tale, is still entertaining and heartwarming, a true testament to its timelessness and perfection of a well told story.

The Princess Bride tells a story within a story, framed by a grandfather reading his grandson the book. When the grandfather begins The Princess Bride, we follow along, as the narrative unfolds in front of us. We are introduced to the lovers of the tale, Westley (Cary Elwes) who is a poor farm boy and Buttercup (Robin Wright Penn). They are separated when Westley leaves to find fortune but word gets back that he is killed at sea. Five years later it is announced that Buttercup is to wed the evil Prince Humperdink and ultimately marry into the royal family. It is when she is kidnapped by three robbers, that the rescue of Buttercup becomes priority for both Humperdink and a mysterious man in black, who is most obviously Westley, also Dread Pirate Roberts, in disguise. Westley is challenged by the robbers, one of whom is a talented swordsman who goes by Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), leading them with wits is Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) and the other a giant named Fezzik (Andre the Giant)—two of them ultimately team up with Westley to help each other in their quests.

The story is simply a tale about true love, and everyone is involved someway in the fight for it. Besides our main characters, the sub plots provide much of the intrigue and entertainment. Inigo Montoya has been searching his whole life for a six-fingered man, a man that killed his father and according to him, must prepare to die.

This film is brilliantly cast, even down to the smallest cameo roles; these actors embody their characters. Inigo is such a wonderful character and Mandy Patinkin gives him such life and warmth, the Spanish accent helps. Robin Wright Penn sparkles on the screen, being that she is easy to photograph but her performance is heartfelt and believable. Billy Crystal makes an appearance in one scene as Miracle Max, and even this character plays an important part of story. The care and attention given to these characters makes it believable that they live on in their fairy tale world.

The Princess Bride is charming for its clever way of making fun of its own genre. Very subtly, through dialogue and plot points, it satirizes the familiar story that it plays upon. The film makes fun of iconic danger spots, namely The Cliffs of Insanity, or the Pit of Despair, also the danger comes in all sort of sizes, from giants to the ominous Rodents of Unusual Size.

Most importantly, this film has heart—from the relationship of a grandson to his grandfather, all the way to the fantasy love story of Westley and Buttercup. Fantasy can change lives, being that it cures the little boy of his illness by the end of the film and this film can cure the decades of bad film that have followed. Like an old story retold at bedtime, The Princess Bride is as reliable now as it was the first time.

The extras that accompany this film share the nostalgic love for The Princess Bride, with featurettes “The Princess Bride: The Untold Tales,” with interviews with cast members and “The Art of Fencing,” which gives background information of the swordfights in the film. The DVD features the official The Princess Bride game, called “True Love and High Adventure” but the game, definitely geared towards children, calls for Internet play as well, so the game is incomplete. Hopefully the purchase of this DVD is for the movie and not the interactive game, because then it is worth the purchase.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS
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