Inconceivable: 30 Years of ‘The Princess Bride’


By Michael Abler, Staff Writer

On Sept. 25, 1987, audiences were introduced to a cult classic and one of the most enduring films of all time. The story of a farm boy finding true love with a princess and saving his girl from an evil Prince is heartfelt, if not also a charmingly goofy movie. ‘Princess Bride’ was adapted from the 1973 novel by William Goldman, which can be seen as parody of fairytale stories.

The movie plays out that way as well, the central strength of this movie is the quirky sense of humor and usage of slapstick. While there is some physical comedy, most of the jokes from this movie come from the dialogue between the characters. Every character, even the villain, is a bit goofy yet also diabolical at the same time.

An example of this comedic writing is when three criminals kidnap the Princess. There’s a bit of silly chatter going on between two of the henchmen that eventually causes their leader, Vizzini, to lose his temper and scream at them. This works because we wouldn’t expect these guys to be lighthearted and goofy –  it’s just such a strange thing to do when you’re about to go on the run.

Another scene that showcases this is when one of the henchmen, Inigo Montoya, confronts the ‘Man in Black’ and tells him that he’s only helping him to get to the top of a cliff in order to kill him. When the man is made aware of this, he simply quips, “that does put a damper on our relationship.” It’s little scenes like this that help the film create its own unique style and feel.   

The absolute best aspect of the movie is that initially the audience thinks it’s going to be a sappy love story. However, it balances the fairytale love story with swashbuckling action and adventure. It knows that there is more that can be done with this setup for a sweet and funny parody of fairytales. But it ingeniously plays with your expectations at first before the film shifts the tone very naturally.

Many people seem to forget that comedy isn’t always about doing something crazy or over the top –  although there moments like that in the movie –  and that just funny ideas or goofy dialogue can be more effective and subtle.

Like any film with a cult following, ‘Princess Bride’ fans don’t just enjoy this movie, they cherish it.

“The movie has memorable characters, quotes, and it also succeeds in building its own unique world,” says Mason junior Nathalie Nguyen.

Nguyen feels that the movie is already a timeless classic and is enjoyed because it speaks to all ages.

“I have never seen a movie hit four categories so beautifully – comedy, romance, thriller, and adventure. The movie simply has everything.”

Illustration Courtesy of Mary Jane Decarlo