Monday, February 21, 2011

The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride; Fantasy, USA, 1987; D: Rob Reiner, S: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Andre the Giant, Wallace Shawn, Peter Falk, Fred Savage, Billy Crystal

A grandfather reads a book to his grandson, called "the Princess Bride": Buttercup fell in love with servant Westley, but he was kidnapped by pirates. She thus decided to get engaged to prince Humperdinck who plans to kill her and put the blame on the neighboring kingdom. But then Westley shows up, alive and well, just disguised by a mask. Together with Fezzik and Inigo, they go through numerous adventures and save Buttercup.

Fairytale "The Princess Bride" has been declared both a "timeless classic" and a "enchanting fantasy". Neither one of these assertions don't quite suit the film in question. Namely, it's an endlessly sympathetic and at times very funny little film, but also frequently very problematic, mostly on the field of stubbornly (too) childish resolutions of many tangles in the story. The best part is the excellent first third that abounds with intelligent humor and spirit. For instance, Buttercup and Westley start kissing but the scene is suddenly "interrupted" by the grandson who complains to his grandfather that "the book has too much romance". In another great little moment, the evil Vizzini kidnaps princess Buttercup in order to put the blame on the neighboring kingdom and start a war, adding how that is a "respectable job with a long tradition", and when someone is following them in a boat on the sea, he tells his servants that it's "probably just a fisherman", upon which he replies with: "But there are only eels in these waters!" Billy Crystal also has a neat humorous cameo. Unfortunately, the rest of the story is standard, convulsive and unfunny, whereas it tends to get especially annoying in the naive ways with which the main hero manages to get out of dangerous situations (the one where he can't move but still manages to scare away the bad guy by threatening to "stand up" almost seems like an insult to intelligence).


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