Few mainstream Hollywood films have attained the cult status as Rob Reiner’s 1987 adaptation of of William Goldman’s 1973 novel, The Princess Bride. The post-modern fairy tale /romantic-comedy- adventure shouldn’t work, but it does, managing to be a great film for both grown-ups and kids.
Time has been very kind to The Princess Bride. We live in a cinematic world where spectacle is everything; where special effects take precedence over story – but the story and script are at the core of what makes The Princess Bride so enjoyable (and quoteable). Many have have tried to mimic the film’s tone since its release in thirty years ago, but Reiner and Goldman have captured lightening in a bottle, creating something which feels timeless. Reiner has always been able to inject his films with heart and he does it here with aplomb, while Goldman is one of the all-time great Hollywood screenwriters. Together the pair have concocted one magical little film.
The Princess Bride follows the oft told tale of a hero trying to rescue a princess, but the film is framed around a grandfather (Peter Falk) telling his grandson (Fred Savage) the story. In lesser hands this could have a fruitless gimmick, but Reiner manages to use it as a way of throwing commentary on the film – pre-empting any negativity from the younger audience, while giving a knowing wink to older viewers.
Cary Ewles and Robin Wright are great as the idealistic young leads, while Chris Sarandon chews the scenery as the villain. However, the film is stolen by the winning double act of Andre The Giant and Mandy Patinkin, while wonderful cameos by Billy Crystal and Carol Kane add yet another touch of post-modern critique to proceedings.
Action, adventure, comedy and romance – The Princess Bride has it all, without compromising any of these key elements. That’s a difficult balance to keep, but Reiner manages it, without ignoring the all important fairy tale tropes. That’s what makes it so special, it’s a film for all genders and ages, helping it grow with those who first saw it as children, and who are now showing it to their own children.
This two disc 30th Anniversary DVD has everything that fans of The Princess Bride could wish for – – documentaries, interviews, trailers and a director’s commentary. This is a great package that features not only archive material from the film’s theatrical release; but also an enjoyable recent chat between Elwes, Reiner and Wright.