Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Classic Fairy Tale That did not Come from Disney’s Book Shelf

Screenplay writer, playwright, novelist and non-fiction author William Goldman (Dreamcatcher, The Ghost and the Darkness, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Chaplin, The General’s Daughter and many more) wrote the amazing story of The Princess Bride back in 1987, and I thought that this was a Walt Disney classic but it turns out that the rights to this film belongs to 20th Century Fox. Nevertheless it was a classic fairy tale story that I loved and grew up with as a child, and ever since that time I have been looking for movies with similar themes. So everytime a movie like The Secret Garden, or A Little Princess, or Babe, or Charlotte’s Web, or Alice in Wonderland showed up in cinemas I would do my best to try and catch them there.

The thing about fairy tale stories is that it allows us to “escape” in some sort of a way from this reality that bites. There’s adventure, thrill, love, hope and a moral lesson fairy tale movies that appeals to anyone no matter at what age you are, and that’s why I still enjoy watching this kind of film genre.’ The Princess Bride is just like any other fairy tale story where there’s a princess and her humble but brave lover, an evil witch, king or even a prince in this case with his henchmen and of course the story’s humor relief. 

The movie begins with a young boy (Fred Savage) feeling ill who has had to stay in bed in order to recover, but his mother (Betsy Brantley) will have to go to work and so his grandfather (Peter Falk) took the baby sitting job for a while. The sick boy told his mother that he didn’t like his grandfather because he always pinched his cheek, well who can blame the old man his grandson was quite the cute little boy and he adores him. The boy always interrupted his grandfather as he was narrating through the story for reasons that little boys are not accustomed to yet, like the kissing part or when the story reaches its climax and either the hero or the princess lives are in danger. Nevertheless the story finished and thanks to the wonderful enunciation of the grandfather his grandson at last was satisfied about his bedtime stories and started to like him. He even asked if his grandpa could come back again for another bedtime story, but sadly this would not be so otherwise we would have seen a sequel to the film. The film did well in the box office though although the movie studio perhaps just decided to go on a different direction.

To sum it all up the story begins with a princess named Buttercup (Robin Wright) who found out that his ever loyal farmboy servant Westley (Cary Elwes) has been in love with her for years. But he refused to admit his feelings because he knew that he is not suited to love his master let alone marry her, still Buttercup also had feelings for him. So one day she confronted him about it and both of them finally admitted to each other’s feelings, and then hopeful Westley set out to seek his fortune in order to someday become worthy of the princess’ hand in marriage. However, few days later news came to Buttercup that the ship that Westley boarded to set sail on a faraway land was attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who is known to keep no prisoners but only the spoils of his conquest. Devastated by this Buttercup swore that she will never love another man, but for her people’s sake she reluctantly agreed to marry the soon to be crowned King of Florin - Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon).

However, before the two could be wed a group of misfits bandits kidnapped the princess in order to ask for ransom money from the prince in exchange for her life. Hot on their heels now is Prince Humperdinck and his horde and a mysterious pursuer dressed like Zorro or more appropriately a masked man dressed in black. The valiant man in black single-handedly defeated the bandits that comprised of Vizzini played by actor Wallace Shawn, an extremely wise man from Sicily and small in stature leader of the bandits, Fezzik played by the former wrestler André the Giant (he was Hulk Hogan's arch rival in WWE) who is 400 pound giant from Greenland and Inigo Montoya played by Mandy Patinkin, who is a master of the fencing sword and who has sworn to avenge his father by killing the six-fingered man who slew him. He was able to rescue the princess at last and unharmed he told her that he is the Dread Pirate Roberts, who happens to be the only man Princess Buttercup hates in all the world for killing her beloved Westley. In her anger she shove him off a hilltop desperately wanting to kill him too for what he did, but a strange phrase came from the masked man in black as he said “As you wish!” Buttercup remembers that this is the exact words that Wesley always say whenever he confirms the orders of his princess, then she too threw herself and rolled from the hilltop to follow her long lost lover all the way down to the valley.

Before they could celebrate their reunion Prince Humperdinck arrived and almost mistook him for a bandit, but Buttercup intervened and asked the prince to spare Westley’s life as his wedding gift to her. The prince agreed but secretly ordered Count Rugen (Christopher Guest), his six-fingered vizier to keep Westley prisoner because he feared that he might come in between him and Princess Buttercup. Count Rugen who also happens to be the man that Inigo Montoya has been looking for all these years, took Westley to an underground lair and tortured him using a primitive version of the electric generator. The furious Prince Humperdinck went into the secret dungeon seeing Westley still alive set the ampere meter to the maximum level and killed him. Meanwhile Inigo Montoya frustrated that he could not defeat Westley, which he thought that his skills may not be enough to defeat Count Rugen or worst that he may never find him, succumb into drinking until he was too weak to even help himself up. But Fezzik came to his friend’s rescue and got him back to his senses as well as brought him good news about the six-fingered man that has eluded him for years and that he served the now to be wed Prince.

The castle where Count Rugen, Buttercup and Prince Humperdinck were in is also heavily guarded by more than 30 guards and even their combined might won’t be able to break through that kind of defense. So they sought out the masked man, Westley only to find him lying dead in Count Rugen’s secret lair, but they did not gave up hope and went to the old wizard folks in order to revive him and help them fight the tyranic rule of Prince Humperdinck and his horde. Luckily the wizards were able to revive him but he is as good as a paralytic because he could only speak and not move any part of his body. Out of time the trio raced towards the castle to try and stop Prince Humperdinck and to help Montoya get his revenge, but because of Westley’s condition they had to change their plan of attack and sneaked past the castle guards instead of taking them head on.

Montoya at last got his revenge by uttering the words “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die” that inspired courage and strength in him despite being mortally wounded. While Westley was finally able to regain his strength and tried to challenge the prince to a fencing duel, which he declined by the way knowing that he was no match for a man who defeated the Dread Pirate Roberts and assumed his name and title over the years leading a band of pirates. Westley and Princess Buttercup were once again reunited and this time forever…and I really gotta say it…..here it goes….and they lived happily ever after.

Whew! What a relief! Don’t you just enjoy a fairy tale? Well for me because it always has a happy ending one that few of us ever find.

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