The Princess Bride (1987)
Fantasy was a major film genre from the 80s, with fairy tales out to grab an adult market sick of stars, wars, treks and black holes. Ranging from the Tom Cruise ‘shirt-off’ trash in ‘Legend’, to the dark haunting dystopia of Michelle Pfeiffer and Rutger Hauer in ‘Ladyhawke’ or the hallucinogenic ‘Labyrinth’ with David Bowie chewing the cardboard sets as the prince of the goblins. ‘Hawke the Slayer’ and ‘Kull the Conquerer’ seemed to give any fantasy film with the word ‘the’ in the title a bad reputation. But that was until the high camp antics of ‘The Princess Bride’ took these stereotypes and crushed them together with pirates, sword fights, giants, screaming eels and ‘rodents of unusual size’, otherwise known as ‘ROUS’s’.
With a cast as diverse as Andre the Giant, Billy Crystal, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright Penn and Peter Falk, plus numerous famous character actors hamming gleefully around the fantasy landscape of Guilder and Florin, climbing the ‘cliffs of insanity’ and setting sail with the dread pirate Cummerbund past the fire swamp in search of the six-fingered man, this movie takes nothing seriously.
The sumptuous scenery and complete believability by the actors in what they are doing makes up for the script of silly lines, which includes gems like “do not keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means?” Cary Elwes is dreadfully earnest when he utters lines like, “there are so few perfect breasts in the world … it would be a shame to spoil those”.
The movie has leapt into popular culture in episodes of ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘Family Guy’ respectively, and is possibly the most quoted film (after Monty Python) at conventions of gamers and in circles of a certain age reliving their youth…when a problem was only a sword fight or a perfect kiss away.