A 1987 movie directed by Rob Reiner, adapted by William Goldman from his 1973 book of the same name, The Princess Bride is about the trials of true love in the Renaissance European nation of Florin. The story stars Buttercup (Robin Wright), a simple yet incredibly beautiful farmgirl, and Westley (Cary Elwes), the farmhand she enjoys ordering around. Although they realize that they share the incredibly rare thing called "true love", fate conspires to keep them apart, as Westley is lost at sea.Five years later, Prince Humperdinck, who rules Florin in place of his elderly and doddering father, decides to celebrate the kingdom's 500th anniversary by marrying Buttercup, who is still the most beautiful woman in the kingdom. Buttercup, knowing that the Prince is well within his rights and believing she can never love again anyway, reluctantly agrees.In a plot against the throne, Buttercup is kidnapped by the criminal trio of Vizzini (the mastermind), Fezzik (the above-mentioned giant) and Inigo Montoya (the world's greatest fencer, traveling to avenge his father) - but their steps are hampered by a mysterious man in black who seems determined to stop them at all costs. The subsequent adventures are madcap, iconic and brilliant.The movie uses a Framing Device of a grandfather (Peter Falk) telling the story to his sick grandson (Fred Savage) with the boy complaining about the story at various points. ("They're kissing again.")
Affectionate Parody: Pulls off the tricky balancing act between joyful appreciation and subtle (and not so subtle) parody.
Anachronism Stew: Quite deliberately. For instance, the story seems to be set in the late Renaissance, and yet there is talk of the penal colony Australia; Australia was only discovered in 1606, and only used as a penal colony from 1780 onward.
Vizzini: Because iocane comes from Australia, as everyone knows, and Australia is entirely peopled with criminals, and criminals are used to having people not trust them, as you are not trusted by me, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.
Humperdinck: ...when I hired Vizzini to have her murdered on our engagement day, I thought that was clever.
Rugen: As you know, the concept of the suction pump is centuries old.
Subverted: Inigo: Let me explain. (Beat) No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
Batman Gambit: "To the Pain!" Wesley was in no condition to fight and was counting on Humperdinck's cowardice, by chiding him with horrible tales of disfigurement.
Battle of Wits: Played straight (and for laughs) in one of the most classic moments of the movie: the one between Vizzini, the Man in Black, two cups of wine and a vial of iocaine powder. Except the Man in Black has rigged the game in his favor by poisoning both glasses, as he has spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocaine powder.
Berserk Button: How ill Miracle Max thinks of Prince Humperdinck firing him is clear given how he reacts when his wife Valerie brings it up when calling him a liar.
Best Served Cold: Inigo's quest for vengeance against six-fingered man Count Rugen.
The Big Damn Kiss: "Since the invention of the kiss there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind. The End." Played for ironic Character Development, since throughout the movie the kid has protested and insisted on skipping or editing all the kissy stuff, only to protest when Grampa complies for the final kiss.
The Big Guy: Fezzik. "It's not my fault I'm the biggest and the strongest. I don't even exercise."
Blatant Lies: "Rodents of Unusual Size? I don't think they exist." Said as Westley is looking at about three of them over Buttercup's shoulder, and immediately before one of them tackles him.
Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: "Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I've got my country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder, and Guilder to frame for it. I'm swamped!"
The Brute: Subverted. Fezzik is really quite a nice guy.
Miracle Max: Beat it, or I'll call the Brute Squad! Fezzik: I'm on the Brute Squad. Miracle Max:(double take) You are the Brute Squad.
Casual Danger Dialogue: Westley and Fezzik have a friendly discussion while fighting to the death. Fezzik keeps talking right up to the second he passes out. Westley and Inigo talk throughout their fight as well, but that's more the witty repartée you expect from a fencing duel.
Inigo: You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you.
Westley:You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die.
Catapult Nightmare: Buttercup dreams about her wedding the night before it is to occur. She wakes in terror after the "Old Booer" accosts her.
Collapsed Mid Speech: Vizzini says to the Man in Black, "Never go in against a Sicilian when DEATH is on the line! Ha-hahahhaha!" then the poison takes effect, causing him to freeze mid-laugh, grin frozen on his face, then topple sideways.
Buttercup: *kisses the king on the cheek* The King: What was that for? Buttercup: Because you've always been so kind to me, and I won't be seeing you again, since I'm killing myself once we reach the honeymoon suite. The King: Won't that be nice? *calling up to the queen* She kissed me! Heeheehee!
Inigo: This is noble, sir. His wife is... crippled. His children are on the brink of starvation. Miracle Max: Are you a rotten liar. Inigo: I need him to help avenge my father, murdered these twenty years. Miracle Max:Your first story was better.
During the Storming the Castle sequence, four palace guards charge our heroes. Inigo kills them in five seconds flat without ever taking his eyes off Count Rugen.
The later duel against Rugen also counts as soon as Inigo gets his Heroic Second Wind. Not only is Inigo's defense invulnerable, he mirrors his own injuries on his opponent's body to maximize Rugen's terror and humiliation.
Damsel in Distress: Buttercup on two occasions at the beginning and end of the film. The same person is responsible both times.
Determinator: Inigo in his fight with Count Rugen. Stabbed repeatedly and still keeps coming. He will avenge his father's death.
Distant Reaction Shot: During Westley's scream, they cut to several places throughout the kingdom, including Buttercup's room, then to Inigo and Fezzik, where Inigo immediately recognizes the cry of ultimate suffering.
Driven to Suicide: Buttercup after her wedding to Humperdinck, during which he revealed to her he'd had Westley murdered. Good thing Westley was only mostly dead and happened to be in the honeymoon suite waiting for her.
Dueling Scar: Inigo Montoya has two scars down his cheeks, which is understandable, given his career as a swordfighter. They are later revealed to be a humiliation inflicted upon him at the age of eleven after the first time he tried to avenge his father's murder by Count Rugen. He returns the favour before killing Rugen.
Dumb Blonde: Buttercup doesn't come across as dumb so much as sheltered and naive, which makes sense, given she's almost instantly transported from a tiny farm into royalty. She also lampshades it with some Self-Deprecation while she's nailing Humperdinck with a pretty fair Kirk Summation.
Evil Sounds Raspy: Parodied with the Albino. He starts off speaking with an extreme rasp. Then he coughs to clear his throat, and continues speaking in the actor's normal voice with a slight Cockney accent.
Evil Gloating: Rugen halts Inigo's chase by throwing a knife into his stomach... and if he'd taken the opportunity to keep running, he might have got away. Instead he stops to gloat, and Inigo gets a Heroic Second Wind.
Exact Words: Westley's challenge in the Battle Of Wits is "Where is the poison?", not "Which glass is poisoned?".
The film begins with the boy playing a video game.
Also used within the fairy tale itself. It starts off as an over-the-top love story, until the grandson stops his grandfather and accuses him of tricking him into hearing a "kissing book". The humor of the movie doesn't start until afterwards.
Faux Affably Evil: Prince Humperdinck and Count Rugen seem to be genuine friends. Their exchange in the forest establishes, for the first time, that Humperdinck is genuinely evil, but is also full of little moments of relateability for both of them, like Rugen struggling to find the secret door to the Pit of Despair ("It's impossible to find...") and encouraging Humperdinck to get some rest.
Foregone Conclusion: The grandfather tells his grandson the ending of the story midway through the movie, although specific details have been left out.
Flynning: The duel on the Cliffs of Insanity is an homage. The screenplay explicitly says that the characters are Flynning, as they have nothing personal driving their duel and are trying to have fun with someone who can fight as well as they can.
Genre Savvy: When Rugen tells Westley that he will be returned to his ship after being captured by the Prince, Westley says, "We are men of action. Lies do not become us." Rugen doesn't bother contradicting him.
Brute: Ho there! Inigo: I will not budge. Keep your joder.
Give Me a Sign: While holding the sword his late father made, Inigo asks his father's spirit to guide his sword and lead him to Westley. Then he closes his eyes while holding the sword out in front of him, and ultimately sticks it into a tree. Feeling let down and probably foolish, Inigo slumps down onto the tree. And then it opens up...
A variation while Buttercup is held prisoner by the Man in Black.
Buttercup: No matter where you take me, there's no greater hunter than Prince Humperdinck. He could track a falcon on a cloudy day. He can find you. Man in Black: You think your dearest love will save you? Buttercup: I never said he was my dearest love. And yes, he will save me. That I know.
While Buttercup is waiting for Westley to come take her away.
Buttercup: Any word from Westley? Humperdinck: Too soon, my angel. Patience. Buttercup: He will come for me.
Shortly before the wedding:
Buttercup: You never sent those ships. Don't bother lying. [beat] It doesn't matter; Westley will come for me anyway.
A final variation, at the wedding.
Buttercup, hearing the sounds of fighting: Here comes my Westley now. Humperdinck: Your Westley is dead. I killed him myself. Buttercup: Then why is there fear behind your eyes?
I Am Not Left-Handed: Inigo deliberately handicaps himself during his duel with the Man in Black, because he's used to fighting people who are no challenge. When he realises that the Man in Black is beating him, he reveals his true abilities, and is soon winning — until the Man in Black reveals that he's also been holding back.
Ice Queen/Defrosting Ice Queen: Buttercup goes from one to the other and back again throughout the story. She starts out cold, then defrosts when she realizes she's in love with Westley, then freezes up again after he's murdered by pirates, then defrosts again when he shows up.
Fezzik: I just don't think it's right, killing an innocent girl.
Vizzini: Am I going MAD, or did the word "THINK" escape your lips?! You were not hired for your brains, you hippopotamic land mass!
Inigo Montoya: I agree with Fezzik.
Vizzini: Oh, the sot has spoken! What happens to her is not truly your concern! I will kill her! And remember this, NEVER FORGET THIS! When I found you, you were so slobbering drunk, you couldn't buy Brandy! [turning to Fezzik] And YOU: friendless, brainless, helpless, hopeless! Do you want me to send you back to where you were?! Unemployed, in Greenland?
The Igor: The Albino, servant to the scientifically evil Rugen. He even speaks with the typical raspy "Igor voice"... for one line, then he clears his throat and speaks in a normal deeper voice.
I Gave My Word: Played straight by Inigo as Westley is trying to climb the Cliffs of Insanity. Twisted around when Prince Humperdink promises not to hurt Westley if Buttercup goes quietly (planning to let Count Rugen do it), but ultimately subverted when Humperdink mostly kills Westley himself.
I Know You Know I Know: Subverted during the Battle of Wits. Vizzini makes increasingly complicated reasonings to deduce what goblet is poisoned ("...so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me! But you would have counted on my thinking that, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you!..."), but, as the Man in Blacks points out, he is just trying to get a tell from him. When his opponents calls him out on that, he gives up and goes for a second strategy : he distracts the Man in Black and swaps the cup instead, reasoning that if the Man looks confident drinking his cup, he should be too.
Buttercup, a commoner, and Prince Humperdinck, prince, to the extent that it counts as a romance.
Buttercup is more middle-class than Westley, who is after all her family's farm boy. She initially considers him to be beneath her notice and all he says to her is "as you wish", before she realizes they're in love.
"I swear it will be done" (Prince Humperdinck and Count Rugen).
A visual example, once again with Count Rugen: Every wound he takes during his duel with Inigo is somewhere that he previously inflicted. For those keeping score, that's both cheeks, right arm, left shoulder, and the stab to the belly.
Just a Stupid Accent: The novel establishes that English is not the native language of Florin. But since Florin is a Fictional Country (with a fictional language), there is no accent to imitate. Thus, most of the Florinese characters (played mostly by American actors), speak with British Accents. Frenchman Andre the Giant and American Wallace Shawn go into Not Even Bothering with the Accent territory with their characters, Fezzik and Vizzini, who are supposed to be Turkish and Sicilian respectively. However, the actors retain their native accents, and Vizzini's claim to be Sicilian is treated more like a joke than anything else. Miracle Max and his wife appear to be Yiddish speakers (but there's no reason why they couldn't be.) Only Mandy Pantinkin bothers to try to speak with his character's native Spanish accent, albeit not terribly well.
Legacy Character: The Dread Pirate Roberts. Westley reveals that he is the fourth person to use the mantle in order to uphold the legend, after the real Roberts, a guy named Cumberbund, and another man named Ryan. Fezzik even briefly takes up the identity to scare a few guards when Storming the Castle, which also involves him being set on fire. At the end of the movie, Inigo wonders what to do now that he got his revenge, and Westley suggests passing the name to him.
Leitmotif: Skillfully done with Fezzik's plodding slide trombone theme, "The Friends' Song." You can't help but smile when you hear it, especially in this scene:
Mexican Standoff: Between Vizzini and the Man in Black, leading up to the battle of wits.
Mickey Mousing: Used throughout the movie to varying degree and effect, but the most noteworthy instance has to be Inigo Montoya's fight against Count Rugen.
Minion with an F in Evil: Inigo and Fezzik. "I just don't think it's right, killing an innocent girl." And Fezzik complaining that his way of getting rid of the Man in Black (throwing a rock at his head) is not very sportsmanlike.
Only a Flesh Wound: In his final battle with Count Rugen, Inigo twice deflects sword thrusts into his shoulder and yet seems to show no visible effect from it. Not to mention, of course, the gaping dagger wound to the stomach.
Only Mostly Dead / Our Hero Is Dead: After Humperdinck kills Westley, his friends take him to Miracle Max, who diagnoses him as "only mostly dead" and thus a candidate for revival. For the record, there's a big difference between 'mostly dead' and 'all dead', and that is the fact with 'all dead', there's only one thing you can do: go through his clothes and look for loose change.
Out-Gambitted: Never go in against a Sicilian when DEATH is on the line! Hahahahahaha! Unless you are immune to a poison you are using.
Overly-Long Scream: Westley, when Humperdinck charges into the Pit of Despair and cranks Rugen's life-sucking machine to its maximum setting.
Fezzik is the Id, Inigo is the Ego, and Westley is the Super ego.
In the original trio Vizzini was the Super ego.
Pragmatic Adaptation: Interesting case since the author himself adapted it to a screenplay. Many lines from cut characters are transplanted onto other characters. The stack of frame stories and unreliable narrations in the book, all focused on the reader-writer relationship is slimmed down to one simple frame story, removing most of the postmodernism and satire.
A single instance of "You son of a bitch" is the closest the film gets to an actual swear word. And even that ends up Bowdlerized when shown on TV, becoming "You son of a witch" or being cut out altogether.
Fred Savage shouts, "Jesus, Grandpa!" in exasperation, showing that he's fully invested in the story by now.
Recruited From The Gutter: Vizzini recruited both Inigo and Fezzik this way, as he reminds them when they question his orders:
Vizzini: (to Inigo) When I found you, you were so slobbering drunk, you couldn't buy Brandy! (to Fezzik) And you: friendless, brainless, helpless, hopeless! Do you want me to send you back to where you were?! Unemployed, in Greenland?
Inigo: That Vizzini, he can fuss. Fezzik: Fuss, fuss... I think he like to scream at us. Inigo: Probably he means no harm. Fezzik: He's really very short on charm. Inigo: You have a great gift for rhyme. Fezzik: Yes, yes, some of the time. Vizzini: Enough of that! [The boat sets sail] Inigo: Fezzik, are there rocks ahead? Fezzik: If there are, we all be dead. Vizzini: No more rhymes now, I mean it! Fezzik: Anybody want a peanut? Vizzini: [screams in frustration]
Sarcastic Confession: When Humperdinck's response to Westely's To the Pain speech is to call his bluff, he replies "It's possible, pig, I might be bluffing. It's conceivable, you miserable, vomitous mass, that I'm only lying here because I lack the strength to stand." (Subverted, though, as he then reveals that he's regained enough strength to stand up.)
Inigo: Offer me money. Rugen: Yes! Inigo: Power, too, promise me that. Rugen: All that I have and more. Please... Inigo: Offer me everything I ask for. Rugen: Anything you want... Inigo:I want my father back, you son of a bitch!
Secret Test: When Westley rescues Buttercup, his True Love, from her kidnappers, he doesn't reveal his true identity, in the hope of finding out whether she still loves him or not.
The Slow Walk: Inigo during his final duel with Count Rugen. Justified because he was seriously injured at the time.
So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Buttercup. Her beauty's enough to get her promoted to future queen, except the Prince threatens to kill her if she refuses. He's planning to kill her anyway. In fact, if she were slightly less beautiful, the whole conflict wouldn't have happened.
Sword Pointing: Westley does it to Prince Humperdinck at the climax to make him surrender.
Westley: Drop. Your. Sword.
Take a Third Option: Vizzini attempts this during the battle of wits. Unfortunately for him, so did the Man in Black, and rather more successfully.
Tap on the Head: The Dread Pirate Roberts to Inigo (swordhilt) and Fezzik (stranglehold), Count Rugen to Westley (swordhilt), and Fezzik to the albino (fist) and the shrieking eel (fist). During filming, Cary Elwes encouraged Christopher Guest to hit him hard when Rugen knocks Westley out. As a result, production shut down for the day while Elwes was rushed to the hospital.
Tom the Dark Lord: Westley's explanation to Buttercup while they are traveling through the fire swamp as to why he had to take on the Dread Pirate Roberts moniker:
Westley: Well, Roberts had grown so rich, he wanted to retire. So he took me to his cabin and told me his secret: "I am not the Dread Pirate Roberts," he said. "My name is Ryan. I inherited this ship from the previous Dread Pirate Roberts, just as you will inherit it from me. The man I inherited it from was not the real Dread Pirate Roberts, either. His name was Cummerbund. The real Roberts has been retired fifteen years and living like a king in Patagonia." Then he explained the name was the important thing for inspiring the necessary fear. You see, no one would surrender to the 'Dread Pirate Westley'.
Unconscious Objector: Inigo's arm seems to block Count Rugen's coups de grace independently. At that moment, "conscious" wouldn't fairly describe Inigo, who seems ready to Go Into the Light. May be Justified. A few scenes earlier Inigo calls upon his father to "Guide my sword!", maybe Inigo was being protected by his father so that he could get revenge.
Undead Author: The Dread Pirate Roberts takes no prisoners. (In the original novel, it's explained that this doesn't mean he kills everybody: he kills anybody who resists, but anybody who hands over their valuables without resistance gets to go free — and spread the word, so that the next set of victims are less likely to resist.)
Unreliable Voiceover: "Fezzik took great care in reviving Inigo," is said as Fezzik dunks Inigo's head into alternating basins of hot and cold water. Several times.
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: All of one person other than the main characters seems to notice the eerie, overlapping scream that's loud enough to be heard all over Florin. And he just turns his head slightly before walking on, all of the other peasants blithely ignoring it. Of course, Inigo has to tell Fezzik to stop and listen before the giant acknowledges it, so it might simply not be as loud to the characters as it is to the viewers.
Vengeance Feels Empty: Once Inigo Montoya has killed his father's killer, Inigo's life is rather empty, although it's not really a lack of satisfaction but rather "That's everything on the to do list. Now what?"
"As you wish!" as Roberts/Westley tumbles down the hillside.
Humperdinck is presented as a Jerk Ass for claiming Buttercup as a trophy wife and later imprisoning Westley to get him out of the way. However, he seems sincerely concerned that Guilder kidnapped her and plans to kill her... Then he reveals that he was behind Buttercup's abduction all along, as a pretext for a war with Guilder.
Inigo: Who are you? Man in Black: I am no one of consequence. Inigo: I must know. Man in Black: Get used to disappointment. Inigo:(shrugs) Okay.
Worthy Opponent: Inigo and Westley compliment each other's fighting style during their duel. Afterwards, Westley tells Inigo that "I hold you in the highest possible respect". After this scene they're best friends.
Xanatos Gambit: The battle of wits. Vizzini was doomed from the start, though he never realized it. The man in black knew such an egotistical sod would never turn down that challenge. Drinking from either glass was fatal, and even if Vizzini had realized the ruse, he was still screwed. The man would cut him down if he tried to kill the princess, and his only remaining option was to run away which means he would have to leave the princess behind.
You Fight Like a Cow: The famous Inigo/Westley duel, but with compliments instead of insults. (In most DVD editions, that chapter is titled "The Chatty Duelists".)
Inigo looking for the entrance to the Pit of Despair.
Vizzini is so busy playing I Know You Know I Know with the Man in Black that he completely ignores the notion that both glasses could be poisoned, especially as one of his guesses — that his opponent is immune — happened to be correct.
Vizzini: You've beaten my giant, which means you're exceptionally strong, so you could have put the poison in your own goblet, trusting on your strength to save you...
Grandson: Grandpa...do you think you can read it for me again tomorrow? Grandfather: As You Wish.