The Princess Bride Blu-ray Review
Fairy tales can be a very poignant method for delivering a strong life lesson to a child. They can be magical, fantastical, romantic and wise, but very seldom are they cool. However there is one, and only one that would make both of Fonzie’s thumbs point due north. Explain further you say…as you wish.
It would be an act of pure futility to try and write a more definite synopsis for THE PRINCESS BRIDE than uttered in the film by The Grandfather himself, Peter Falk.
“Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles….”
This is the only true fairy tale that guys can profess their unwavering love for in public. In fact, it is required that all true movie buffs be able to recite at least three lines from the film, including the iconic declaration from one Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin). The amount of quotable dialogue from this classic is “inconceivable.” You see what I did there? And it’s not just 98 minutes of wall-to-wall one liners, there’s an incredibly well thought out and original story that revolves around a subject matter as old as the written word itself. William Goldman, who penned both the original book and adapted screenplay, was able to take the framework of the mundane fairy tale and drastically heighten not only its levels of action, adventure and intrigue, but intelligence and versatility as well. THE PRINCESS BRIDE is probably one of the pioneers for inconspicuously inserting mature humor into what was seemingly a “kids movie,” appealing as much to adults as its targeted “PG” audience.
As grand as the script is, it is only surpassed by its miracle of a cast. In 1987, the most recognizable talent of the central characters was a 7 foot professional French wrestler who spoke muffled English. And even though Cary Elwes (Westley), Mandy Patinkin and Robin Wright (Buttercup) never reached Hollywood superstardom, they’ve all produced very respectable careers, each considered exceptional at their craft. However, it’s arguable that no roles donned by the trio before or after this perfectly balanced equation of a film have ever been as fondly remembered or loved.
And a great cast can’t achieve true greatness without memory burning moments from its supporting players. Wallace Shawn (Vizzini), one of the consummate character actors in film and television history, has appeared in over 140 titles during his career in which he has memorized an “inconceivable” amount of dialogue. You see what I did there yet again? He pronounced that word so distinctly that it has become a parody of itself, completely inept as being part of a serious conversation without someone reiterating it back with Shawn’s unmistakable inflection. Billy Crystal (Miracle Max), Chris Sarandon (Prince Humperdinck), Christopher Guest (Count Rugen) and especially Peter Falk and Fred Savage as the grandfather and grandson who act as the conduit between the heightened reality of a fairy tale and the real world, all take part in what has promoted this film’s status over the years to a true classic, sans the cult.
Sometimes though, what’s lost in a film with such unforgettable characters and echoed dialogue is the direction responsible for making it all fit together. Rob Reiner has had an illustrious career with films like A FEW GOOD MEN and WHEN HARRY MET SALLY atop his directorial resume, but many seem to forget it also includes THE PRINCESS BRIDE. Reiner leaves his “life is a great adventure” fingerprint all over this film and his experience in comedy as both an actor and director is a considerable advantage that helps separate this film from others in the genre.
THE PRINCESS BRIDE is an undisputable pillar for any decent film collection, but even more substantial, the film has become a rite of passage that its now grown-up theater audience will introduce to their children, bestowing a sense of immortality that only few films ever achieve.
Video: 1.85:1 Widescreen, 1080p/AVC MPEG-4: This film always had a very cinematic story book look and feel that would be robbed by too much optimization. Thankfully this transfer retains a natural grain to it and does not make the film look like it was shot with a HD video camera last weekend.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1: The audio mix is very solid; the all-important dialogue is clear and stands out above the music and sound effects, which are also noticeably enhanced from television HD presentations of the film.
Audio Commentary by Director Rob Reiner: Even though this is the 25th anniversary edition of the film, this is the same commentary from the 2001 DVD. If you’ve never heard it before it’s definitely worth listening to as Reiner is a very compelling storyteller.
Audio Commentary by Screenwriter William Goldman: This is a commentary from the original author of the book and screenplay. Goldman explains some of the differences between the book and the film, which is always interesting for big fans of either media to hear. He does pause quite often, but he has a calming tone and you truly feel like you’re watching the film with him for the first time.
True Love: The Princess Bride Phenomenon (30 min): This feature has 2 parts. The first is new to this 25th anniversary edition of the film. Reiner, Elwes and Wright sit down for an interview about the film and talk about how surprised they all were that the film has made such a big impact all this time later, and some great stories about Andre the Giant. The second part is an interview piece with cast, crew and even fans. And some more pop culture influence that the film has had on other media throughout the years.
As You Wish: The Story of The Princess Bride (27 min): This is a behind the scenes featurette describing the process of how the story was translated from book to screenplay. Worth the watch for the cast and crew interviews and the segment dedicated to the late Andre the Giant.
Miraculous Makeup (11 min): A feature on how Billy Crystal was transformed into Miracle Max. This is interesting simply because this is become somewhat of a lost art with the digital age taking over all the special effects in films.
The Dread Pirate Roberts: Greatest Pirate of the Seven Seas (12 min): This is sort of an odd attempt at a bad SNL sketch where Cary Elwes dresses up and pretends to be an expert on pirates, explaining why The Dread Pirate Roberts is similar to Black Bart. Definitely press “skip forward” on this one.
Love is Like a Storybook (17 min): Professors analyze how a fairy tale is put together. This is completely useless and actually insults the audience’s intelligence.
The Princess Bride: The Untold Tales (9 min): This is some reiteration from previous interviews with the cast, but still worthwhile as you can really see just how much everyone loved working on this film.
The Art of Fencing (7 min): A very cool featurette with the choreographer of the sword fight scenes that the film is so well known for. The training was intense and each actor took it very seriously, which end ups showing in the final product.
Fairy Tales and Folklore (9 min): Another featurette on how the film relates to classic fairy tales. This one is a bit more informative, but still not really worth the time.
Video Diary from Cary Elwes (4 min): Footage directly from Cary Elwes as the film was being made. Stories from Elwes and Robin Right are pretty amusing, especially some about Andre the Giant.