The Princess Bride: Analysis
The underlying theme of The Princess Bride is the pursuit of eternal love by the two protagonists Wesley and Buttercup. Wesley and Buttercup lived in the same home town one oblivious of other for several decades, at least romantically, until a troupe of traveling royalty interest in Wesley ignited Buttercup’s passion for his servant. Out of love, the firm boy obeys his princess otherwise unreasonable commands. Subsequently, Buttercup declares her undying love for the Wesley. Unfortunately, necessity causes Wesley has to depart the comfort of his lover’s embrace to find fortunes across the sea and become worthy of Buttercup’s love. The prince bride is a satirical Dastan that reiterates the underlying themes to the overt drama and action.
This film belongs to the romantic genre. The two protagonists after surmounting a myriad of impediments ride into the sunset with white horses to live happily ever after.
Buttercup love for the strong and striking farmhand prevails until she receives the bad news of his premature death at the hands of deadly pirate (Goldman 7). Devoid of her soul mate, Buttercup is condemned to drift mechanically through life. She even accepts to become the princess to a prince of whom she is indifferent. All the while Wesley masquerading as the pirate who purportedly killed him watched from the fringes concerned about his lover’s wellbeing. News of Buttercup’s imminent betrothal pushes Wesley back into the scene. Buttercup, The Princess Bride, evolves from a spoilt princess to a dazzling woman with considerable clout in the echelons of power. Along her rise she acquires the corresponding life skills that will help her survive at the more ruthless royal court characterized by political intrigue and personal interests.
In the tradition of the Dastan genre, The Princess Bride possesses fantasy landscape as well as heightened characters with supernatural skills used to fulfill a given purpose. Every character is the best in their respective domain. This and other supernatural elements such as sorcery make their inevitable duels and confrontations all the more epic (Reiner The Princess Bride). Similarly, their shortcomings are perceived as more endearing. Akin to the actions of every romantic film, the characters’ decisions are motivated by emotions. The emotions instill a sense of purpose into the characters. Fezzik who is the strongest man in the world follows the commands of his colleague to avoid a life of solitude. Vizzini is cunning enough to recognize this weakness and exploit it to make the giant do his bidding in the criminal underworld. Inigo strives for revenge against Count Rugen who killed his father hence his famous statement “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!” (Reiner The Princess Bride). Wesley survives even death with the help of other characters to return to the embrace of his soul mate. Wesley exemplary ability to adapt to situations, survival skills elevates him in the power hierarchy of the film. Similar to the Dastan tales, the Adventures of Amir Hamza, the antagonists have redeemable qualities and eventually end up using them to noble acts. Unlike in Amir Hamza annals of adventures, the mythical creatures are limited to within reason to increase its plausibility. Furthermore, the supernatural elements are not used to elevate the protagonists to godlike characters rather it makes them more relatable.
The princess bride updates the Dastan genre by making it simple and realistic. The plot is not covered by plots of twists and turns. Though viewer can anticipate the ending, the focus is more on the journey. By the hero Wesley being fallible to the extent of mortality, the story becomes more relatable unlike Hamza fictitious abilities to kill mythical creatures with fatal blows (Lakhnavi, Ghalib, and Bilgrami 23). In The Princess Bride, the powers of the characters have their limits. Despite existing in the fantasy genre, it is a critic of society. For instance, the characters in the film do not recognize Buttercup for her exemplary courage rather than beauty. Though, Dastan genres have inherent misogynistic tendencies the female is never depicted as an unsung hero rather a victim of a patriarchic society. The princess’s beauty rather than her sexuality is sufficient to bring out the themes. Having been in the 80’s it is understandable that the heroine is at times passive and stoic.
villain is given a back story to help the viewers to understand that not all antagonists
are inherently sinister rather products of their background. The villains
evolve as the story matures. In The
Princess Bride, the narrator is not isolated from the story rather
integrates himself to the world. The grandfather’s interruptions of the fantasy
helps guide to viewer towards his desired worldviews. Similarly, the cynicism
in the narrator’s voice jolts the viewer back to reality (Reiner The
Princess Bride). His intent is to prevent the viewer from getting too
engrossed in the mystical land to forget the moral of the story. The film
departing from the Dastan way is less amorous increasing the scope of its
audience. As aforementioned, the film transcends the Dastan tradition of a
singular supernatural character. The
Princess Bride promotes the value of team work. The proponents of the
criminal underworld despite the grave shortcomings unite under Wesley when
their interests align.
Goldman, William. The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007. Print.
Lakhnavi, Ghalib, and Abdullah Bilgrami. The Adventures of Amir Hamza. Modern Library, 2008. Print.
The Princess Bride. Dir. Rob Reiner. By William Goldman. Perf. Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright. Act III Communications, Buttercup Films Ltd., The Princess Bride Ltd., (1987). Film.