Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride is a film that has acquired a cult following within our culture in the thirty years since its release. Like the fairy tale story it sets out to tell, the movie has taken on an almost mythic reputation in the culture today. What the movie does so well is that it knows exactly the film it wants to be, and it maintains a consistent tone throughout. Many a film has attempted to replicate the lasting impact of The Princess Bride and most of them have failed to do so. It is a fine line for the film to walk by managing its self awareness with the fantastical elements while also flexing a sincere romantic fairy tale at its core.
Much of the movie’s beauty comes from the fairy tale style that is flaunted in the direction of the film. It uses many long shots of the characters to boast them as being either heroic or desirable, for Westley and Buttercup, respectively. The supporting characters do a lot to make the movie even more enjoyable. Mandy Patinkin and Andre the Giant are both absolute delights in their roles and could actually be seen as perhaps being the greatest reasons for the film working as well as it does.
The films exists at its core with the story of a prince setting out to rescue his princess, but there is enough going on along the outskirts of that story to make it an engaging experience for adults. The humor woven throughout the story is remarkably satirical and campy in tone and works well to keep the proceedings fun and exciting. The set design is exceptional and gorgeous to look at, and the costume design is very memorable for each of the characters as well. The score throughout the film also does a lot to add to the fairy tale tone in its own right.
Many of the comedic bits in the film have been embedded into our culture since its release, and the film remains insanely quotable. A new generation of people could find enjoyment in watching this film with their parents without issue. With lines like, “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die,” the movie lends itself to the cult following that it has garnered over the past thirty years. The movie is full of one liners and chippy humor, and it hasn’t aged a bit due to its commenting on genre tropes that remain present today. The inherent comedy Reiner brings to this story is what makes the movie timeless and will entertain audiences old and new.
Going with these qualities to prop up the film as a sort of fairy tale on its own, it is made so by having the story run from a grandpa (Peter Falk) reading his young grandson a bedside story from an old book. We see the story play out from the eyes and ears of this young boy (Fred Savage), who starts out bored about having to listen to a book being read but becomes more and more curious and excited as the story progresses. By painting the tale in this way, we the viewer become as excited for the story as he is. It really does succeed in making us feel like young children again, in a way that only a movie ever could. Whether it be by the lovable relationship between Inigo Montoya (Patinkin) and Fezzik (Andre), the dream-like romance between Westley (Elwes) and The Princess Bride (Wright), or any of the many cinematic qualities of the film, this is one that pulls the viewer into its world and lets them bask in its warmth and comfort. It is easy to see why this film has lived on in our love of its fairy tale in the thirty years since its release, and it is sure to build on its legend for years to come.