Review: The Princess Bride (1987)

The Princess Bride, a magical tale of love and adventure that has been loved by every generation since its release in 1987 celebrates its 25th anniversary – inconceivable!

As better quality formats for film viewing are released it offers up a real treat to revisit films that were an important part of your childhood. Those of us who grew up in the 80s will remember seeing The Princess Bride for the first time and being mesmerised by how magical and beautiful it was back then, could Blu-ray really improve on what many would argue was a film as perfect as it possibly could be already?

It would be a lie to say The Princess Bride is a film just for 80s kids. Since then countless young girls and boys have loved watching the fantasy tale of a beautiful princess who loses her one true love and is then kidnapped on the eve of her wedding to an evil prince. OK, a few boys who’ve not seen it will already be thinking, hold on this sounds like a boring girly film with far too much kissing, and if it wasn’t for the film’s storyteller, the late, great Peter Falk to tell us otherwise you might well be put off from watching it. Trust us, there’s no conventional argument that would give you a reason for not watching this film. With adventure, romance, fun, fantasy, giants, cavaliers, pirates and even wizards there really is something for everyone.

Even if you’ve not seen The Princess Bride before, it’s quite likely that you’re already aware of the impact it has had on popular culture. You may have heard people quoting catch phrases like “Inconceivable!” and “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” While these quotes might not mean much to you if you’ve not already seen the film, to those that have they will create a sense of warmth, a sense of happiness, a pleasant memory of watching a film that you’d be really pushed to find fault with.

The film itself, based on the book by William Goldman and expertly directed by Rob Reiner, is a lovely story that makes us smile every time we watch it. The characters are simply wonderful and you’ll really fall in love with all of them. The dialogue, setting, costumes, and backstories will take you from tears to laughter and back again, even now as we write this we can’t help but fight back tears of joy and sadness as we remember some of our favourite ever scenes performed by actors who are sadly no longer with us and it’s the excellent characters that really make this film.

The leads played by what were then the new faces of a young Carey Elwes (Saw, Robin Hood Men in Tights) as Westley and Robin Wright (Forrest Gump, Moneyball, Unbreakable) as Buttercup, coupled with supporting adventure and camaraderie delivered by the excellent duo of Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), and Fezzik (Andre the Giant). All enhanced by great cameos from film and comedy favourites such as Wallace Shawn, Christopher Guest, Carol Kane, Mel Smith, Billy Crystal and Peter Cook. You’ll even enjoy seeing Fred Savage too, looking as young as he did in The Wonder Years.

So what of the Blu-ray upgrade? It’s hard to improve on a film that was already wonderful in the first place, ok the few special effects in the film are dated but we think that adds to the fun, innocence and fantasy of the film anyway. The quality of the picture that Blu-ray offers makes a massive difference though and you can’t help but feel you are finally seeing the colour, clarity, brilliance and magic that you were intended to. There’s a long list of superb extras too that include the usual audio descriptions and original trailers but also includes a two part documentary about why The Princess Bride has been loved from one generation to the next. In this featurette cast and crew reminisce about making the film, the fun they had, and the moments they’ve shared with their own children and grandchildren as they too have discovered its magic. They also discuss with fondness and warm openness their memories of Andre the Giant, Peter Cook and Peter Falk who are sadly no longer with us today but live on in a film that we are sure will continue to be rediscovered by every young boy and girl for many, many years to come.

Best line: There are so many favourites from this film but the best has to be: “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!”
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