Everyone has certain movies that they fall in love with growing up. It is always good to see as an adult that a movie that one remembers fondly is in fact a good movie. It is nice to know that a movie that one loved is actually worth loving. Such is the case with The Princess Bride, which comes to DVD, yet again, On November 13th.
Last year the film was released in both a “Dread Pirate” edition and a “Princess Buttercup” one. This year, it's the “20th Anniversary Collector's Edition” and it contains several new documentaries: Princess Bride: The Untold Tales, The Art of Fencing, and Fairy Tales and Folklore. The DVD also features a game, True Love and High Adventure: The Official Princess Bride DVD Game.
For those unfamiliar with the story, The Princess Bride is a fairy tale about a man, Westley (Cary Elwes), and woman, Buttercup (Robin Wright), and their true love for one another. As is always the case, the course of true love is not smooth, Westley leaves Buttercup to seek his fortune and is soon thought dead. Buttercup, on the other hand, is forcibly engaged to the prince of the land, Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), who plans to have her murdered in order to start a war with the neighboring kingdom, Gilder.
Also playing major roles in the film are Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya, a Spanish swordsman, and Andre the Giant as Fezzik, not surprisingly a Giant. These two individuals are part of the three man team run by Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) who have been hired to kidnap and murder Buttercup. Westley's chase and eventual defeat of these three are one of the highlights of the film. These scenes combine the best moments of action, adventure, and humor the film has to offer.
The film does not end with the successful reunion of Buttercup and Westley at this point. From here, the stakes are only raised, as the Prince and his right-hand man Count Tyrone Rugen (Christopher Guest) do everything in their power to ensure Buttercup's death and a war with Gilder.
The entire story of Westley and Buttercup is told inside the frame of a grandfather (Peter Falk) reading the tale of the two lovers to his sick grandson (Fred Savage). One of the main purposes of the grandson is to balk at the moments of love and intimacy, and thereby help represent all the young boys watching the film. It is a tactic that works as well now as it did twenty years ago. The movie is not just about true love, it is full of swordplay, adventure, excitement, betrayal, and murder, but the “kissing bits,” while brief and no more than a kiss, may have garnered a less than sympathetic reaction without the addition of Savage's character.
In a larger sense the grandfather/grandson frame adds the ability of the movie to pull back from any moment that that may be too much for younger viewers, whether it is of kissing or Buttercup about to be eaten by the Shrieking Eels. Because of the frame and the film's ability to cut tension by going back to the grandfather/grandson dynamic, it is easier for younger viewers to watch and not get overly nervous or scared.
The film also features numerous cameos from the likes of Billy Crystal, Peter Cook, and Carol Kane. It is clear that everyone that appears on screen, whether they are in a major role or a minor one, is having a wonderful time. Their enjoyment of filming the movie comes across to the viewer and only adds to the viewer's enjoyment as well.
The Princess Bride – 20th Anniversary Collector's Edition's special features are not as numerous as last year's Dread Pirate Roberts/Princess Buttercup release, which were both 2-disc sets. However, what is included, particularly the featurette entitled Princess Bride: The Untold Tales are interesting to watch. Several of the actors involved in the making of the film appear in the featurette and discuss what happened on set and how the film still affects them today. Their remembrances are wonderful and completely engaging.
Slightly less fun is the True Love and High Adventure DVD game. This mainly consists of having the player move the cursor and click the right item or at a specific time. The graphics are cute enough, but the response time moving the cursor (and the gameplay in general) is far too slow. In this age of the Nintendo Wii, more has to be done with a game than to simply have a remote be pointed at the screen and a button depressed.
Despite this shortcoming, The Princess Bride is well worth watching and owning on DVD.