In the early years of filmmaking, swords were frequently deployed props. Filmmakers knew they could create machismo for their heroes by making them skilled swordsmen and also generate suspense for their story by staging elaborate battles. In more recent decades, guns have largely replaced swords as the filmmaker's weapon of choice. Yesterday, this column reviewed the 2003 film "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," an action movie that features a lot of swordplay. Another movie that features a lot of swordplay is "The Princess Bride," from 1987.
"The Princess Bride" opens with a sick kid (played by Fred Savage) in his room playing video games. He is visited by his doting grandfather (played by Peter Falk), who tells him he is going to read him a book. The book tells the story of Buttercup (played by Robin Wright), who is in love with Wesley (played by Cary Elwes), a devoted farmhand who shares her affection. After Wesley has been missing for several years and is presumed dead, she becomes engaged to Prince Humperdinck (played by Chris Sarandon), whom she does not love. Shortly before the wedding, Buttercup is abducted by Fizzini (played by Wallace Shawn), Fezzik (played by Andre the Giant) and Inigo (played by Cary Elwes). She is eventually rescued by a mysterious man in black and soon learns that he is Wesley. Along the way, there are various junctures at which a good swordfight propels that narrative along to its next unlikely spot.
"The Princess Bride" is a charming film with many colorful characters. They are fairy tale archetypes. In Reiner's capable hands, they each embody a unique and off-kilter personality. One of the most memorable characters is Prince Humperdinck, who is quite evil. He is also very amusing. Another good character is Inigo, who is determined to find the man with six fingers who killed his dad.
The cast of the movie is excellent. In addition to all the major characters, the movie features a lot of memorable cameos. Particularly noteworthy is Billy Crystal, whose character is very old and can perform miracles.
"The Princess Bride" is one of Rob Reiner's best films.