"Let me ‘splain… no, there is too much. let me sum up."
September 27, 2016 12:13 PM   Subscribe

 
High fantasy is a wonderful thing, but The Princess Bride succeeds by shrugging at the concepts of “world-building” or “verisimilitude.”
I went into this article wondering whether they'd mention this, and I will again link to You Can't Tip a Buick's excellent comment on world-building vs. storytelling. It's a fairy tale. Reiner et al didn't need to make it any more or less than that, so they didn't.
posted by Etrigan at 12:26 PM on September 27, 2016 [8 favorites]


Discuss.

As you wish. A lot of people skip over the horrible part where Westly, as the Dread Pirate Roberts, threatens to backhand slap the princess. She flinches, anticipating getting hit for saying something she believed. Westly says:
"That was a warning, Highness. The next time my hand flies on its own, for where I come from, there are penalties when a woman lies.
So is it perfect? No. It's a good reminder, however, that so much of the media we love has many problematic elements. It's a reminder that sexism and misogyny are baked into so much media that is heralded as the best ever. And you watch and rewatch and it's hard to face that moment where you realize there's some really abhorrent shit going on, but it's an important step.
posted by cashman at 12:27 PM on September 27, 2016 [35 favorites]


"That was a warning, Highness. The next time my hand flies on its own, for where I come from, there are penalties when a woman lies.

I thought he was playing a role to persuade her he was the Dread Pirate Roberts, not that this was a thing he actually thought or would do. My impression of his pirate-hood is also that it was primarily a role that involved little actual violence.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:33 PM on September 27, 2016 [63 favorites]


*has fun storming castle*
posted by jonmc at 12:34 PM on September 27, 2016 [8 favorites]


You are right, of course, cashman, but I also never thought he was actually going to hit her - that was part of the Dread Pirate persona. It doesn't change the fact that it's a horrible threat to make, and maybe it's my male privilege showing, but Wesley says several things that he doesn't really mean while he is still pretending to be the Dread Pirate Roberts.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:36 PM on September 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


Characters in The Princess Bride conspire, torture, kidnap, murder, and even threaten violence against women. Those are all problematic behaviors, but that doesn't mean the movie itself has a problem.
posted by Rangi at 12:36 PM on September 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


I could never look at it the same after I realized it was by the author of "Marathon Man"
posted by thelonius at 12:40 PM on September 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Wait wait wait... 40 best quotes from Princess Bride and no Billy Crystal (the "have fun storming the castle" reference reminded me).

To blave. (or is it "bleve"?)
posted by emmet at 12:42 PM on September 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


The whole thing about the Dread Pirate Roberts was talking big and getting people to roll over and surrender without lifting a finger. I think we can all agree that Westley isn't actually considering smacking Buttercup around, it's more in-character bluster. I agree it's a mysogynistic threat to make but I don't think that the presence of mysogyny alone makes a story problematic, you have to look at it in context. If you can argue that the story is presenting this as the proper attitude to have toward anyone, male or female, then I would find the criticism valid.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:42 PM on September 27, 2016 [7 favorites]


A lot of people skip over the horrible part where Westly, as the Dread Pirate Roberts, threatens to backhand slap the princess. She flinches

Of all the places where I'd level a charge of misogyny, a moment where Dread Westly telegraphs a possibility of violence that he restrains and lets go unrealized, a moment that's bookended by fully realized and borderline lethal violence against Buttercup, a moment that's bookended by similarly realized violence against Westly (including being sucker punched by Buttercup herself!), a moment that doesn't take a great deal of depth of analysis to see is really about the romance, trading in some related tropes... this is not the clear example of misogyny I'd pick.

It's not that it's above analysis or criticism from that viewpoint; it's that a closer look is the kind of thing that an earnest thinker might realize raises questions that fit uneasily in the frame.
posted by wildblueyonder at 12:47 PM on September 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


Ok so I'll say it. I first read the book ( and then saw the movie ) as an adult.
And I didn't like either of them.
There's nothing terrible about it in particular, there's just nothing remotely interesting in its hamminess.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:57 PM on September 27, 2016 [10 favorites]


It's still almost as good as an MLT.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:59 PM on September 27, 2016 [16 favorites]


And if you ask me what I'm doing in this thread, it's because I'm trying to find out why on earth other people love it so much, and also I'm vaguely alarmed by the movie's cult status so I feel like I need to get at the bottom of this.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:59 PM on September 27, 2016 [11 favorites]


I'm glad that I saw the movie first on this one. I recall stark differences in tone between it and the book, so much so that I was getting very frustrated reading the book and its insistence on tearing down ideas like "happily ever after". Parts of it, particularly the parts when he talks about the realities of marriage and parenthood, seemed bleak at the time and painful to read, but by the end I was equally in love with it and refreshed by its honest upending of the fairy tale.

If I had read the book first I don't think I could have appreciated the film on its own merits. I think I would be criticizing it as a watered-down, flimsy commercial imitation, when it is so much more than that.
posted by middleclasstool at 1:00 PM on September 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


Princess Bride is a fun romp - sort of a send up of fantasy movies. I would still rate Willow and, perhaps, Labyrinth, as higher in my ranking of fantasy flicks.
posted by sudogeek at 1:01 PM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's not parody?
posted by Segundus at 1:02 PM on September 27, 2016


Let's not forget the terrible stereotypes of Sicilians.
posted by XMLicious at 1:04 PM on September 27, 2016 [13 favorites]


And if you ask me what I'm doing in this thread, it's because I'm trying to find out why on earth other people love it so much, and also I'm vaguely alarmed by the movie's cult status so I feel like I need to get at the bottom of this.


I'll try. It's seminal because it's one of the first modern attempts at a "fractured fairy tale," (excepting, of course, the original Fractured Fairy Tales). It's also a great early example of a cute story equally enjoyable by children and parents.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 1:06 PM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Ok so I'll say it. I first read the book ( and then saw the movie ) as an adult.
And I didn't like either of them.


I first saw the movie as an 11 year old child and practiced jumping off picnic tables with a sword in my hand for days.

I am not left-handed.
posted by Diablevert at 1:09 PM on September 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm trying to find out why on earth other people love it so much

The answer to your question (as to so many questions) is: Mandy Patinkin
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:10 PM on September 27, 2016 [61 favorites]


Omnomnom, I think you'll get lots of disparate answers about why people love this movie.

For me:

I have a "true love." I know it sounds stupid and cliché and unbelievably naïve, but I do. I adore him, he adores me. The love story in the movie speaks to me and I am NOT a romantic movie person AT ALL. I LOATHE rom-coms. This is different.

The relationship between the grandfather and the grandson is just so, so perfect.

Inigo Montoya. God. Every Single Time he says that line ("I want my father back, you son of a bitch!") I cry. And I've seen the movie probably a hundred or more times. It has nothing to do with my father and everything to do with my father-in-law, who was the second most wonderful person on the planet (next to his son, my husband) and who we lost way, way too early. I miss him every day. I feel what Inigo feels in that moment.

It's fun. It's sweet. It's really, really sweet. Is it perfect? No. But it's just so damned lovely.
posted by cooker girl at 1:14 PM on September 27, 2016 [38 favorites]


It's a reminder that sexism and misogyny are baked into so much media that is heralded as the best ever.

Hm. I am firmly in the "love this movie" camp, so I may be an apologist, here. But at least you made me think about this in a new way, so that's good.

If anything, I'd probably have to nod along if one accused the threatened-slap scene of being a bit (pardon the pun) heavy-handed or blunt in fulfilling its purpose, much like the annoying trope where so many lazy writers seem to think the only way to make a female character interesting or dark is to quickly toss a convenient rape into her backstory.

But this scene... I don't know how to get straightforward misogyny from it, since it's presented specifically as a quick way for Westley to "prove" how he is a complete monster, after all. The audience is supposed to be offended by how casually it's presented.
posted by rokusan at 1:20 PM on September 27, 2016 [8 favorites]


I read the book before I saw the movie.

I think it's wonderful because it tells people that yes, life isn't fair. People die, and don't always find happiness. But let's suppose that it is fair, just this once. Let's bring people back from the dead. Let's let true lovers find one another despite long odds. And let's see what happens.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 1:22 PM on September 27, 2016 [10 favorites]


If you love Princess Bride, you must read As You Wish by Cary Elwes. I laughed so hard at one point I cried. And also quite sure I cried a bit (which made me laugh).

I insist.
posted by slipthought at 1:23 PM on September 27, 2016 [13 favorites]


I think it's a wonderful movie and a wonderfuler book, but I think it's interesting that Wallace Shawn, who in my opinion is also wonderful, never got the movie and didn't like it. I mean, he clearly has some weird mixed standards, if you contrast his theater and TV career, but still, clearly the Princess Bride is not for everyone.
posted by latkes at 1:28 PM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Whether or not the movie is misogynistic, it's hard on rewatch for me not to side-eye Buttercup's dimness and passivity. She just barely avoids failing the Sexy Lamp Test.
posted by emjaybee at 1:33 PM on September 27, 2016 [15 favorites]


A lot of people skip over the horrible part where Westly, as the Dread Pirate Roberts, threatens to backhand slap the princess. She flinches, anticipating getting hit for saying something she believed.

As much as I can see the misogyny in the talk of consequences for "a woman," I have a hard time faulting the movie for putting a woman in fear of a slap across the face (by a seemingly evil character) immediately before that same woman attempts to murder the man who didn't slap her.

There's a difference, I think, between a woman suffering violence in a story and the story having a problem with Violence Against Women.

Also... baby Claire Underwood!
posted by sparklemotion at 1:33 PM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


I like this movie, but it's far from perfect. There are plot holes that seem obvious upon repeated watching, notably how oddly the movie deals with time. From the point of Westly's capture to the wedding, time does not seem to pass in a linear fashion. Additionally, how does Inigo know about the six fingered man? Westly couldn't have told him. And Robin Wright's performance is hard to watch at points.

But it also reminded me that a movie I very much enjoy watching, and have watched numerous times, doesn't have to be perfect for me to like it. I like the movie High Fidelity as well, and that film is chock full of inconsistency and downright horribleness. But it's got a humanity that makes it endearing, much like The Princess Bride. Life also isn't perfect, after all.

So if you want the perfect movie, watch The Godfather. If you want a great time, there's lots of other things you might like.

P.S. Also, saying something is the perfect fantasy movie is a bit like arguing that a book might be the best harlequin romance. It may be true, but look at what you're comparing it to.
posted by Jacks Dented Yugo at 1:36 PM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


You are right, of course, cashman, but I also never thought he was actually going to hit her - that was part of the Dread Pirate persona.

I remember that the Dread Pirate was mean and scary to me when I was a girl, and I was disappointed to find out he really was Westley all along.* I was pretty sure, but hoping for an evil twin or a brainwashing or something.

This isn't to say that I was woke enough as an eight-year-old to dislike this movie. It was too funny and sweet and endlessly quotable. More remarkably, I had endured being told half the plot beforehand by another small cousin in the backseat of a long car trip, and those of you who have kids know that this ruins nearly any movie, yet I still loved The Princess Bride.

-----
* At the same time I would totally have married Jareth, which made Labyrinth as terrifying as it was
posted by Countess Elena at 1:38 PM on September 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Westley is a condescending jerk to Buttercup before and after he threatens to hit her (a threat she has every reason to believe is real). He maintains his disguise past the point where there is any excuse to do so, lets her think that he (a murderous pirate) is kidnapping her rather than rescuing her, and pretends that he killed the man she loved, which is pretty manipulative and fucked up. He also talks down to her a lot, especially in the Fire Swamp. You would not think highly of him if you knew these people in real life. That's the joke -- our swashbuckling hero is kind of a dick, and the innocent princess is perhaps not very bright. In fact, it's exactly the kind of knowing joke that the main article is talking about.

Additionally, how does Inigo know about the six fingered man? Westly couldn't have told him.

Fezzik tells him. Presumably he noticed it while working for the Brute Squad, although it's not explicitly stated (at least in the movie).
posted by Gerald Bostock at 1:42 PM on September 27, 2016 [16 favorites]


Also, I recommend the original book by Goldman. The movie didn't and couldn't contain all of the story elements and narrative snark, considering the looseness of the structure, and there's a lot more melancholy from the middle-aged authorial voice (not all of it welcome). But it's entirely worth your time, even if you have the movie memorized.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:42 PM on September 27, 2016 [7 favorites]


I mean, there's not really any such thing as pretending to be an asshole, right? In real life, saying "ha ha! just kidding" doesn't and shouldn't excuse sexist remarks, even though people try to say it does allllll the time.

So, yeah, from a story perspective Westley thinks he's pretending to be a villain, but in fact, we as the audience see him behave in a genuinely villainous way and he never really experiences repercussions for it.

So even though the film isn't endorsing misogyny, at least not intentionally, I think that scene absolutely does downplay the impact of misogynist speech. It's fundamentally a good-hearted film, of course, but it's not flawless.
posted by a mirror and an encyclopedia at 1:43 PM on September 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


In the sequel, Princess Buttercup goes on to become First Lady Claire Underwood, as she wished.
posted by autopilot at 1:46 PM on September 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


Ok so I'll say it. I first read the book ( and then saw the movie ) as an adult.
And I didn't like either of them.


Book was better than the movie, which isn't saying much because I didn't even make it to the end of the movie*.

It's seminal because it's one of the first modern attempts at a "fractured fairy tale," (excepting, of course, the original Fractured Fairy Tales).

Being a child in the 1960s, I grew up with the original Fractured Fairy Tales which, to then six or nine year old me, were perfect. But they were also only a few minutes long, so the joke never got tired. Also I was six or nine years old, thus making different demands of the material.
posted by philip-random at 1:48 PM on September 27, 2016


I enjoy the movie until Billy Crystal shows up, then he drowns all fun in his shtick and the endgame barely recovers.
posted by yellowbinder at 1:49 PM on September 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


In the sequel, Princess Buttercup goes on to become First Lady Vice President Claire Underwood, as she wished.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:55 PM on September 27, 2016


Also, saying something is the perfect fantasy movie is a bit like arguing that a book might be the best harlequin romance. It may be true, but look at what you're comparing it to.

Ah, yes. Here comes the anti-fantasy snobbery. Shall we shit on science fiction next?
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:58 PM on September 27, 2016 [20 favorites]


I enjoy the movie until Billy Crystal shows up, then he drowns all fun in his shtick and the endgame barely recovers.

the bad memory returns -- this is why I stopped watching, there being two kinds of people in the world: those who find Billy Crystal's shtick funny and those who reach for the OFF switch.
posted by philip-random at 2:02 PM on September 27, 2016


"Shawn, a playwright and New Yorker editor himself"

*Son* of a New Yorker editor, right? (Still interesting, I didn't know there was any relation!)
posted by bfields at 2:04 PM on September 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Ah, yes. Here comes the anti-fantasy snobbery. Shall we shit on science fiction next?

Well, in the science fiction camp I can put such wonderful and varied films as The Day the Earth Stood Still, Star Wars, Alphaville, Blade Runner and 2001 to name only a few.

The fantasy genre in filmmaking cannot even begin to come close to science fiction in terms of output and quality. I don't know if it's budget, lack of decent stories, lack of public demand or what, but there are simply not nearly as many good fantasy films as there are of almost any other genre.
posted by Jacks Dented Yugo at 2:06 PM on September 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


A lot of people skip over the horrible part where Westly, as the Dread Pirate Roberts, threatens to backhand slap the princess.

He actually hits her in the book. The book has a 1960s Playboy cartoon view of relationships, along with unironic fat jokes. I don't love the film, but at least it the ditched the frame and all the jokes about how Buttercup is so dumb.
posted by betweenthebars at 2:07 PM on September 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


I enjoy the movie until Billy Crystal shows up, then he drowns all fun in his shtick and the endgame barely recovers.

I don't agree that Billy Crystal is all that bad. He may be mostly bad, but mostly bad is still slightly funny. I mean, I've seen worse.
posted by Kabanos at 2:13 PM on September 27, 2016 [53 favorites]


Unlike current multiplexes, The Princess Bride came out in an era when fantasy was considered the realm of well-intentioned misfires for George Lucas (Willow) and David Bowie making the moves on muppets and Jennifer Connelly alike (Labyrinth). The idea that it could be as celebrated for adults as it was for children seemed a novelty act before Inigo Montoya first hissed, “You killed my father, prepare to die.”
What I'll call "meta-fantasy" (fantasy that comments on fantasy and folklore) has prior art with The Last Unicorn (1968, film in 1982). But it's something that a lot of people were dabbling in during the 1980s including early urban fantasy (before it became a parade of vampires vs. werewolves vs. Buffies), Stephen Sondheim, and Steven King.

I'll disagree on what Henson, Henson (since Brian was involved), and Froud were doing at that point in time. I suspect that Henson's Storyteller failed commercially because it refused to Disneyfy its 19th century folklore sources and left elements such as forced marriage, mutilation, and character death intact.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:17 PM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm always surprised and a bit shocked when people express (often quite heated) disapproval of Billy Crystal's acting and humor as "schtick".
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:19 PM on September 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


In the sequel, Princess Buttercup goes on to become First Lady Vice President Claire Underwood, as she wished.

Wait, whaaaaaat? Gee, thanks for that.
posted by ApathyGirl at 2:24 PM on September 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


Aside from Wizard of OZ, I'd say fantasy cinema has done better in animated form starting with Snow White through the Ashman/Menken Disney films (skipping some clunkers). My personal opinion is that anything with Robin Hood or Arthur probably should be considered fantasy since there's little justification for calling them historical drama, although then you might consider other revisionist works like Amadeus and Braveheart as well so let's not go there. Conan the Barbarian probably is the Fistful of Dollars of fantasy cinema, something that transcends its budget and production quality.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:28 PM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


the Sexy Lamp Test...
I've often said that The Princess Bride is a great movie except for the princess bride.

I don't think my granddaughter has seen it yet, and I had just last week thought that I need to share it with her when I see her next month, so thanks for reminding me.
posted by MtDewd at 2:34 PM on September 27, 2016


Just don't listen to the audiobook (Special Cashing-A-Check Edition). Ugh, Reiner -- try a little, wouldja?
posted by wenestvedt at 2:48 PM on September 27, 2016


woman attempts to murder the man who didn't slap her.

I think "man who is kidnapping her after killing the love of her life," may be a better way of describing how she'd think of him at that point. What is she supposed to do, ignore a chance to rescue herself and avenge the death of her one true love because he's not the absolute worst?
posted by ghost phoneme at 2:58 PM on September 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


I enjoy the movie until Billy Crystal shows up, then he drowns all fun in his shtick and the endgame barely recovers.

I discovered this film relatively late and I love it for the non-violent message (well, except for the torture scenes). In fact, I deemed it safe enough for my 4-year old daughter and she seems to enjoy it (with some explanations). Then, when I read the reviews and saw the making-ofs, and they all mentioned Billy Crystal as some kind of a high point, I thought I was just uncultured - who? that cringe-worthy, badly made-up "old" man with a few forgettable lines?

Why do they mention his cameo so prominently? Is it tongue-in-cheek or do people actually think he's funny?
posted by Laotic at 3:05 PM on September 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


As a kid I loved the movie earnestly and with very little awareness that it was satire, or at least arch. The swash, it buckled. The facts that Westley is a giant asshole and that the princess is dumb as a stone were problematic, even to a 10-year-old, but those were annoyances compared to all that buckling swash.

Years later, older, I read the book. Then I watched the movie again. Ohhhhhhh! The swash still buckled, though possibly not as convincingly, but now there was this whole other layer. The facts that Westley is a giant asshole and that the princess is dumb as a stone were insidious commentary on Hollywood storytelling. Commentary that's still pretty effective today.

The movie isn't perfect, but it does deserve to be assessed on its own terms.
posted by gurple at 3:12 PM on September 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


I saw it relatively late in life, at 23. I thought it was funny, but the misogyny, especially the lack of agency the story gives to the female characters, made me like the film only moderately. Individual scenes are brilliant, but for me the whole didn't equal the sum of its parts.
posted by Kattullus at 3:27 PM on September 27, 2016


Two more points not yet touched upon about why the film is admired, at least in my house:

(1) The Inigo-Westley clifftop swordfight is one of the best swordfights ever filmed. The actors (no stand-ins) were trained and choreographed by perhaps the most legendary swordmaster of modern times, Bob Anderson, an Olympic gold-medalist before his Hollywood career, a career in which he also trained, like, everyone who ever looked comfortable onscreen with a sword, from Errol Flynn to Viggo Mortensen. [Previously]

(2) The film has relentlessly good pacing, in that everytime I pass by it playing and think I'll just watch "this next scene", it soon turns into "oh, yeah, and this next one... oh, and this one..." and pretty soon the credits are rolling and my dinner is cold. The only other comedies that work this way for me are Spinal Tap (Reiner again) or The Big Lebowski. For some reason I've never quite nailed.
posted by rokusan at 3:32 PM on September 27, 2016 [33 favorites]


It's not nearly as good, but I do love getting to plug Goldman's (I'm sorry, S. Morgenstern's) The Silent Gondoliers.

I love the movie, I love the book as a separate entity, I love Elwes' memoir about it, and I have no issues with Billy Crystal's mugging it up, because I'm just old enough to remember Borsht Belt humor and think it's a good thing for the world. I don't watch it as fantasy or as love story but as a buddy movie with remarkable wordplay. I laugh at Mel Brooks movies less and less as the years go on, but my love for The Princess Bride does not abate.

And I try to live by this philosophy: "Then let’s look on the bright side: We’re having an adventure, and most people live and die without being as lucky as we are."
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 3:59 PM on September 27, 2016 [8 favorites]


The Princess Bride succeeds spectacularly as a movie simply by convincingly giving audiences the impression that Andre the Giant could act, or indeed speak English
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:14 PM on September 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


Andre the Giant Has a Posse
Anybody Feeling Saucy?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:46 PM on September 27, 2016 [9 favorites]


The fantasy genre in filmmaking cannot even begin to come close to science fiction in terms of output and quality.

Even if we confine ourselves to live-action, that's not obviously true. The average quality of science fiction films is quite low, considering that there's an astonishing number of terrible, terrible science fiction movies out there. I'm not sure that the vast tide of Robot Monster grade schlock does the sci-fi genre any credit, except to make it a laughingstock. So much for output.

For quality, compare the cinematography of 2001 and Lord of the Rings. A fair fight, I'd say.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:49 PM on September 27, 2016


After reading the Wikipedia article, I'm wondering, who played Andre's stunt double?
That's some big shoes to fill.
posted by MtDewd at 5:05 PM on September 27, 2016


Wun Wun
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:12 PM on September 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


I read Westley's threat/slap as an expression of his rage which is an undercurrent of the expected relative positions of men and women, as well as a reflection of how normalized violence is within romantic relationships. I love the book and the movie; my love doesn't stop both from being sexist.

Neither he nor we (in the movie) know her choice was marry Humperdink or die - they deleted that scene from the movie, and even in the book it's rather glossed over . I don't think Westley ever learns Humperdink would have killed her if she had refused to become Princess Buttercup. She isn't as stupid as she's described and treated by the narrative; she's given very limited options even including suicide. She exists under threat of death for all but the very beginning of the story and is expected by everyone to be kind to, generous to, and obey the very people who are threatening her with death by them, the narrative, and often the audience.

Sometimes I wonder what the story could have been if there were gender parity. What if they ditched the Count and kept his Countess instead of the inverse? What if two out of three of the kidnappers were women? What if Buttercup actually had a conversation with the Queen and caused the movie to pass the Bechtel test? It would be a different story, and I think ultimately that's a good thing.

The agency of Buttercup, the choices she makes and reasons for her choices, have long fascinated me. She is a cipher and yet not. She acts on her own behalf until Westley leaves and she decides to never love again, does what she's told under threat of death until she jumps into the ocean and pushes Westley off the cliff, and then decides to kill herself. She is an encapsulation of the reality that a woman can be one of the most powerful people in the world and only be able to express agency through suicide.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:38 PM on September 27, 2016 [18 favorites]


I love the Princess Bride (movie) because it is pretty much what I hope my Role Playing game sessions will be like. Adventure, puns, fighting, weird creatures, overpowered characters, and quotable lines all linked together by a barely there plot and quest.
posted by Mitheral at 5:39 PM on September 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


i disagree; it's perfect
posted by likeatoaster at 5:45 PM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've loved this movie for what feels like my whole life. I never thought I loved it enough to name my actual child after it, but when my husband and I were spit-balling baby names I was like "ha ha, too bad we can't name him the Dread Pirate Roberts." We looked at each other and said "Westley" at the exact same time. It's a great name for a kid, he's West most of the time but the full name isn't too cumbersome, except for the fact that no one can spell it right. I was happy to finally be able to show him the movie this summer and he actually enjoyed it; 80s movies don't generally hold up that well for kids these days.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 5:49 PM on September 27, 2016 [11 favorites]


I adore this movie, and practically wore out the VHS I owned back when I was in middle and high school. There was a time when I could recite every line of this movie, and large chunks still come back to me when I happen to catch it on tv.

Two reasons that I think it really resonated with me, Preteen Female Viewer, when it first came out (aside from horses and swashbuckling and princess dresses and beautiful people and landscapes) and that I think are important to acknowledge:

1. The framing device--with the reluctant Grandson getting increasingly invested in the story--made a really important point: that romance stories are compelling, and that they're worth your time, and that even men (and/or boys) can share them and find them worthwhile. Do not discount how important it is for a bunch of young teen girls and boys to hear a boy actually look forward to the final True Love's Kiss.

2. The story also explored, in a way that was different from John Hughes World, the other major film option for my demographic, that Adults Lie. All the time. People who claim to love you lie. But somtimes, you can still figure out who to trust and who you can work with and good things can come to you. That's also incredibly powerful--honesty and optimism with a fantasy cover--messaging for kids.

So yeah, I'm incredibly nostalgic for this film and will challenge all who disparage it To the Pain!
posted by TwoStride at 5:54 PM on September 27, 2016 [26 favorites]


I said what I wanted to say about this movie back here. That moment where my friend and I launched into simultaneous recitations of Vizzini's death speech is one of my favorites.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:30 PM on September 27, 2016


Well, in the science fiction camp I can put such wonderful and varied films as The Day the Earth Stood Still, Star Wars, Alphaville, Blade Runner and 2001 to name only a few.

Star Wars is a fantasy film, not science fiction.
posted by IAmUnaware at 7:21 PM on September 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


The story also explored, in a way that was different from John Hughes World, the other major film option for my demographic, that Adults Lie. All the time. People who claim to love you lie. But somtimes, you can still figure out who to trust and who you can work with and good things can come to you. That's also incredibly powerful--honesty and optimism with a fantasy cover--messaging for kids.

I think about the line "Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says different is selling something." on a distressingly regular basis.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:33 PM on September 27, 2016 [13 favorites]


Is this a kissing book?
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:33 PM on September 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


Being able to quote lines from this movie is a prerequisite for anyone I employ in my company, full time, part time or freelance. We even put vendors to the test to make sure we are a good fit, and I'll admit to letting go at least one client because they were not familiar with the lines. Life is way too short to be around people who don't believe in true love, who don't find adventure fun, and have no idea what "assss youuuu wishhhhhh" refers to.
posted by HappyHippo at 8:07 PM on September 27, 2016 [9 favorites]


HappyHippo, please understand I hold you in the highest respect.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:17 PM on September 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


I enjoy the movie until Billy Crystal shows up, then he drowns all fun in his shtick and the endgame barely recovers.

I think it's more the fault of the pacing than it is Billy Crystal or Carol Kane. For most of the movie the pacing is excellent, but at this one point it just dies. All the air goes out. (Maybe it's deliberate—Crystal is literally trying to pump air back into the story— but deliberately unenjoyable is still unenjoyable.)

The out-of-ideas-ness continues after that; the holocaust cloak is just kind of dumb as fuck. TBH the story at that point seems bored and tired of itself, like it wants to get to the final bit and doesn't care. This part of the movie is not bad because of Billy Crystal.
posted by fleacircus at 8:17 PM on September 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


THE CLIFFS OF INSANITY!!!!

BERZERK STRING RIFF!!!!
posted by Sebmojo at 8:30 PM on September 27, 2016


As is often the case, a Metafilter movie discussion has goaded me into a re-watch of the movie being discussed. In response to the "Westley's being a dick as the Dread Pirate Roberts" comments, here's an angle to consider:

Westley returns only to discover that his "true love" is betrothed to the prince; so perhaps he's distressed that she seems to have been capricious? Thus the anger and threats of physical violence could be lashing out at the woman who has left behind her promises of faithfulness, pragmatically moved on, and found a more beneficial arrangement.

I don't know that for a fact, but that's always been my impression. FWIW.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:55 PM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also their follow-up conversation:

"Why didn't you wait for me?"

"Well...you were dead...."
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:59 PM on September 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


Oh, oh, and my favorite bit of non-dialog:

(Just entering the Fire Swamp)
Westley: "'S not that bad."
Princess: (gives Westley a Look)
Westley: "I'm not saying I'd like to build a summer home here, but the trees are quite lovely."
Princess: (really gives Westley a Look)
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:08 PM on September 27, 2016 [8 favorites]


I think it's more the fault of the pacing than it is Billy Crystal or Carol Kane.

Yes, I do want to say I am not generally anti-Billy Crystal, I've enjoyed some of his stuff. It is very much that this is a lull in the story and while I'm bored with the film Crystal is adlibbing forever. It's painful, the humor is different from that in the rest of the film, and it feels like stalling for time. Certainly not entirely Crystal's fault.
posted by yellowbinder at 9:31 PM on September 27, 2016


If you love Princess Bride, you must read As You Wish by Cary Elwes.

Came here to say that. It's fantastic. Although, actually, I'd even more highly suggest the audiobook version of it. Read by Cary Elwes himself, but also featuring sections with most of the rest of the cast and crew reading their own words as well.

Up until that book, I totally did not make the connection that the director, Rob Reiner, was Meathead from All in the Family.
posted by Pryde at 9:32 PM on September 27, 2016


She is an encapsulation of the reality that a woman can be one of the most powerful people in the world and only be able to express agency through suicide.

Well, she's not one of the most powerful people in the world. She doesn't have any power. She is simply one of the highest ranked...you know, for a woman who has no power.

As for Westley threatening to hit Buttercup, (a) yeah, at this point he has some good reason to think she might have found love elsewhere, and (b) he's pretending to be a pirate known for leaving no survivors, so most likely he's learned how to act threatening in public. So....I guess that's why it never raised red flags with me, go figure.

Though if you think about it, with a "takes no prisoners " rep, either all the DPR's have been horrible murderers, or they're just nicely dumping people off in places no one will find them.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:49 PM on September 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


If you want to see some William Goldman misogyny, just pick up his Adventures In The Screen Trade and compare how much he agonises about the end to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid because ~heroes can't lose~ to what he says about the end of The Stepford Wives (and a long parade of movie scripts that have *all* the range of female roles: love interest *and* mother of the male protagonist).

Cary Elwes is a darling, though, and I add my rec for As You Wish.
posted by sukeban at 10:09 PM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Star Wars is a fantasy film, not science fiction.

They're all fantasy films. SF is just fantasy with the trappings of science and/or technology.
posted by happyroach at 10:17 PM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Realist film is just fantasy without any of the fun parts.
posted by grobstein at 11:02 PM on September 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


Loved the movie, loved the book on very different terms.

Totally unconvinced by the article's thesis. The movie IMHO is primarily a comedy. It's not the first "adult fantasy," even though adults love it for good reason. But it treats all the elements of fantasy with an element of disdain as well as affection. The adult part sentiment is the disdain--as if you should be a little bored by their presence and are above it and it would be embarrassing to appreciate on its own terms. The affection flows from reminding you that you probably thought fairy tales were great as a kid, the same way you might still remember a favorite stuffed animal and reminisce.

This is all great--it's very funny and a lot of fantasy is silly and who would be crass enough to deny the cuteness of a stuffed animal--but it's not related in appeal to GoT or LoTR or any of the other current entries.
posted by mark k at 11:06 PM on September 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


I really only knew Billy Crystal from his role in Princess Bride and so I was stunned to hear his eulogy for Muhammad Ali a few months back. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOKCoctNk9A) It makes his Princess Bride bit look even more lame but now I really respect the man!
posted by BinGregory at 12:28 AM on September 28, 2016


[A couple of comments deleted. If you want to discuss Metafilter, the place for that is Metatalk. If you want to discuss the film, do that here, and just state your ideas without the "Metafilter is like X" deraily stuff.]
posted by taz (staff) at 2:00 AM on September 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I read the book first, years before the movie was made. I thought the movie was a pretty good adaptation even though I was annoyed at the switch to the kid-plus-grandpa situation, and it was lovely to see the scenes acted out. I was most upset, however, that my favorite passage of the book got left out of the movie. (Emphasis added)
“See?" Fezzik pointed then. Far down, at the very bottom of the mountain path, the man in black could be seen running. "Inigo is beaten."
Inconceivable!" exploded the Sicilian.
Fezzik never dared disagree with the hunchback. "I'm so stupid," Fezzik nodded. "Inigo has not lost to the man in black, he has defeated him. And to prove it he has put on all the man in black's clothes and masks and hoods and boots and gained eighty pounds."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:03 AM on September 28, 2016 [11 favorites]


Deoridhe and TwoStride said it all for me, especially:

But sometimes, you can still figure out who to trust and who you can work with and good things can come to you

a woman can be one of the most powerful people in the world and only be able to express agency through suicide


I knew without checking that they were both women. :-)

(yes, I know I can't speak for all women.) But.

The title of the film is "The Princess Bride" but she's the least-understood, least-explored character. She's the only woman (Carol Kane aside) in a cast of so many front-and-center, attention-grabbing men.

Perhaps that is why there are those (read: MEN) who don't like the movie, or seem not to understand it, because they don't see what all the fuss is about. Maybe she comes across as not really worth fighting for?

It's so strongly male-dominated that it's almost impossible to see her as a protagonist. And as one, her actions don't translate well to men, IMO, because they are blind to the narrowness of the female scope of agency, and wonder why she seems so weak, passive, etc.

But women see what she's doing, and why, and we get it.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:34 AM on September 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


She's the only woman (Carol Kane aside) in a cast of so many front-and-center, attention-grabbing men.

You forgot the Queen and the "Boo!" old woman who, amazingly enough, manages to make this movie pass the Bechdel test (even if she starts by talking about Wesley, because of course).
posted by sukeban at 5:05 AM on September 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


My middle son and I often love the same books, and that started when he became a voracious reader at twelve. He's 43 now. He has loved The Princess Bride since it came out and has made me watch it. It does not appeal to me. I wonder if this is an age thing.
posted by mareli at 5:35 AM on September 28, 2016


Margery Mason as The Ancient Booer, a woman in Buttercup's dreams—From Wikipedia.
posted by XMLicious at 5:36 AM on September 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


And I forgot about the "named character" requirement anyway so well whatever.
posted by sukeban at 5:53 AM on September 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


the "Boo!" old woman who, amazingly enough, manages to make this movie pass the Bechdel test (even if she starts by talking about Wesley, because of course).

I would argue that she doesn't fulfill the requirements (regardless of whether she's named), because the entire "conversation" is about Buttercup's relationships to men. BechdelTest.com agrees.
posted by Etrigan at 6:27 AM on September 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Maybe The Ancient Booer is her name. We know little and less of the naming conventions of the land of Florin.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:27 AM on September 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


There's also Valerie, who is more than willing to discuss Miracle Max's problem with strangers.
posted by happyroach at 6:57 AM on September 28, 2016


I don't think the metafictional elements really put a work outside of its genre, especially when you're talking about fantasy which has a long tradition of the storyteller breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to the audience. Even Tolkien did it to position himself as the translator/interpreter of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, a "discovered" manuscript that had gone through multiple generations of copy and commentary. For that matter, most of Pratchett's Diskworld can be called metafictional.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:05 AM on September 28, 2016


I don't know that for a fact, but that's always been my impression

That has always been my impression too. Wesley is clearly angry at Buttercup in that scene. Although the threat may not be real, he says it with real emotion.

And also never got the impression that we are supposed to simplistically despise the character that Wesley is pretending to be. The Dread Pirate Roberts is what gives Wesley his skills, his sexy black outfit, and his interesting back story.

Like, the scene can be interpreted in different ways. You might think Wesley would have actually struck her, or not. It's ambiguous, and I don't think that either interpretation is wrong. I think we need to evaluate the scene with different interpretations in mind, not just choose the one we prefer.

This is not everything that keeps this movie from being "perfect" anyway.

We could talk about how the author chose to satirize the fairy tale narrative by making the princess dumb and self-centered--and making it her who is changed for the better through her love of a man. (This is even more apparent in the book.)

We could talk about how she is the only female character with a major role, and what the shape of that role is.

We could talk about how our media is so shot through with misogyny that these things don't even appear to us as the choices they are. They just seem inevitable, "the story." But they are choices, even though they lead to a story that many people--including me--love a lot. Other choices were possible.

We could also talk about the difficulties of satirizing or otherwise drawing from sexist source materials like fairy tales--and how much benefit of a doubt we should give to authors like Goldman who are unquestionably sexist. (And whether that matters.)

Like, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against people loving this movie, but it's not "perfect." And the sooner we can be comfortable recognizing and discussing these kinds of flaws in our beloved classics, the better the world will be for girls.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:10 AM on September 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


I still remember showing my wife the movie the first time, and she loved it, and asked if we had the book. I didn't, but I knew a friend did, so I borrowed his copy so she could read it.

About half-way through the book, she looked up from it and remarked "this is just like the movie... I was hoping to read the original book, though..." I just stared at her. It took her a couple of minutes to clue in...
posted by Snowflake at 7:34 AM on September 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


Yeah, it took me... longer than it should have... to realize the framing device in the book was part of the fiction. I think I may have even gone to the library to look for the Morgenstern version.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:24 AM on September 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


When I was fourteen, I wrote the publishing company asking for a copy of the original. I was devastated when they informed me why that wasn't possible.
posted by mochapickle at 9:45 AM on September 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I was like 1/4 through the book before I started asking which was the "real" story, and I recall it took quite a nother significant chunk before I realized what was exactly going on.
posted by latkes at 10:28 AM on September 28, 2016


Neither he nor we (in the movie) know her choice was marry Humperdink or die - they deleted that scene from the movie, and even in the book it's rather glossed over .

Thanks for mentioning that! I've never read the book and didn't know about the deleted scene. I always figured that with Westley presumed dead, something died inside of Buttercup and she agreed to marry Humperdinck because nothing mattered anyway. (She's a more complex character than the movie wants us to believe, IMO.)

Although that does raise the question of why she believes Humperdinck would keep his word and let Westley go free, if she already knows how cruel he is. Maybe she has no illusions but figures an infinitesimal chance is better than no chance at all.
posted by Gerald Bostock at 10:45 AM on September 28, 2016


Maybe she has no illusions but figures an infinitesimal chance is better than no chance at all.

I think that's exactly it. She knows he is lying, but knows/hopes that Wesley can use the superhuman skills and abilities she has just seen him demonstrate to escape somehow.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:01 AM on September 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Please, everyone who read the book, please tell me that you actually wrote away for the missing chapter when the book tells you it's possible to do so.

Because the paper letter you get back in the mail is pure treasure.
posted by rokusan at 3:13 PM on September 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I just stared at her. It took her a couple of minutes to clue in.

Please don't manstare your wife.
posted by rokusan at 4:30 PM on September 28, 2016


Maybe she has no illusions but figures an infinitesimal chance is better than no chance at all.

I read it as her attempting to maintain her integrity and keep him alive simultaneously, within the limitations of her situation and with the understanding that Westley was her second kidnapper even if we know via meta-knowledge he was saving her life. Given he never mentioned or said that Humperdink was behind her first kidnapping, I don't think there's any evidence he or she ever knew Humperdink planned to kill her; that aspect of the "saving" is something only the audience knows. Given also that the context of his threat of murder is to make her do what he wants (the scene is actually quite something - he threads the abusers needle handily), and given his subsequent generosity with him, she has reason to believe he thinks well of her and would do what she wanted if she asked (for more evidence, remember the scene where she tells Humperdink she no longer wants to marry him - by this point in the story, she and he have a relationship she feels like she can trust even in the book, where the relationship started with a death threat).

Buttercup also has land and a position that are left out of the movie and glossed over in the book as "she spent five years learning to Princess". The motivation for her going out among the people is, in the book, her desire to be the best Princess she can be; she choses to leave the balcony above the commoners and move among them to show them kindness and respect (in the movie she starts down there, but in the book she does not). It's not part of the narrative, but it's easy to suppose she wants to use her power and influence to help the people who were like her - her loss of Westley made her a sadder and wiser woman, after all. For all the story wants us to consider her stupid, she would be better described as naïve and honest with a strong capacity to love and support the people around her, and those are good qualities for the Queen of a country.

Westley showed up and literally wanted her to remake her life again with not only no warning, but beginning with lying to her and insulting her as well as actually or threatening to hit her. Her quick swerve from rescuing herself from him to throwing herself after him should be seen as evidence of the depths of her love; frankly if someone I loved pretended to be dead for five or six years then showed up at my engagement party to yell at me for not being "faithful" I'd be pretty pissed!
posted by Deoridhe at 5:57 PM on September 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


the paper letter you get back in the mail is pure treasure.

I sent an email and got an email back, but it was priceless all the same.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:03 PM on September 28, 2016


I guess I'm old, JohnnyW. There was no e-mail option in my edition.
posted by rokusan at 6:39 PM on September 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm old, too, but only got around to reading the book a couple of years ago.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:48 PM on September 28, 2016


This film! I've seen it in younger days (when finding any sort of half-decent filmic fantasy on TV was A Big Deal) and I've rewatched it in the last couple of years. In the meantime I've heard it over-quoted on-line alongside (equally problematic) Python and later Office Space or Big Lebowski.

It's so Disney/Ren Faire, without really consciously playing with that enough for my liking. Unfair comparison but Shrek 1 did it better in that way. Film Portal Fantasy used to be my bete noire and that "How does this other world stuff affect Earth/USA-based Jim-Bob in the cinema/theater?" attitude scars a lot of older visual sci-fi/fantasy. That said I do really like the framing device with Peter Falk which cleverly skirts and avoids that.

I'm glad someone mentioned above that line about "want[ING] my father back". That was excellent and is one of the several high points TPB hits. Plus... It's funny! Phone battery dying and don't want to knock something people love, but honestly, if you have time watch Airplane! and Dragonslayer. If not, watch this.
posted by comealongpole at 7:03 PM on September 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, Time Bandits which has odd/dodgy pacing but is sooo great.
posted by comealongpole at 7:07 PM on September 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


The swordfight is one of the greatest ever put to film.

That said - shouldn't both Westley and Inigo have known the other wasn't left handed from the side they wore their swords on?

I have never been able to resolve this dilemma and it haunts me every time I see the movie.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 8:41 PM on September 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


In the novel at least, it was made explicit that at least Inigo had taken to fencing entirely left-handed just because it was otherwise too easy for him, so presumably he would have worn his scabbard on the right just out of habit? Of course, I haven't looked that closely at the shots in the movie that would indicate how closely they adhered to this notion.
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:41 PM on September 28, 2016


One thing that always struck me was the fascinating difference between the Inigo/Westley (all showy-offy-aren't-we-both-cool-as-shit) swordplay early on and the much more intense Inigo/Rugen (absolute-deadly-bidness) fight near the end.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:10 PM on September 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Indigo wears his scabbard on the left but Westley's is in a sling he can reach with either hand.

The Fight
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:10 PM on September 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


god DAMN it Johnny Wallflower I am TRYING to GET WORK DONE today

you KNOW I lack the ability to refuse to watch that scene
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:49 PM on September 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


That said - shouldn't both Westley and Inigo have known the other wasn't left handed from the side they wore their swords on?

I'm going to retcon and say they both knew from the start that the other wasn't left handed, and they probably also knew that the other person knew that they knew, but they wanted to see how it was going to play out before saying anything.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:25 AM on September 29, 2016


Inigo didn't know, but Westley did (he can clearly see the sword hanging on Inigo's left hip when he's climbing up the cliff). However, Westley also knew that Inigo was an honorable man who might be useful to him in his quest -- testing his swordplay was just seeing how useful he could be.
posted by Etrigan at 6:55 AM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]




That has always been my impression too. Wesley is clearly angry at Buttercup in that scene. Although the threat may not be real, he says it with real emotion.

I haven't re-watched the scene just yet but there are a lot of things going on there.

IIRC, Wesley shows up just knowing that she has been kidnapped. He has been "dead" for several years and likely a little bit trapped in his role as the DPR. His love for Buttercup being the only thing that saved and sustained him. I would guess that he had to tell his crew of pirates that they were going to kidnap her from the kidnappers to ransom her off.

Once he rescues her, this is likely the first time he has gotten any details of her marriage. He was planning on revealing himself but felt betrayed on learning that she was to be married. I mean, he has been through some STUFF for this person and now it feels to him like she didn't really love him in the first place, or at least not in the way that he loves her. I think he's also mad at himself that he knows he is going to save her anyway and hand her back over to her fiance. Even though she has betrayed him, he loves so much he'll help her out anyway.

His anger reminds her of her heartbreak and that, along with the desperation of her situation puts in place to say, "Fuck it" so she tosses him down the hill. She knows that the move will probably result in her death but she is beyond caring after this fucking asshole had the nerve to get pissy at her about her feelings for Wesley.

I like to think that the "as you wish" he yells while rolling down the hill is still just reflexive. I mean, I know why the author has him say it but I think the character says it unconsciously, as if it's still his 2nd nature reaction to a request from her.

They both get to the bottom, realize they've both been idiots and all is immediately well between them.

I think the threat of the slap was part of the DPR persona and he couldn't have willed himself to hit her if he had tried but the anger was real.
posted by VTX at 9:32 AM on September 29, 2016


and he never really experiences repercussions for it.

Other than dying of course, after Buttercup convinces him to surrender.

...'tho he does get better...
posted by GhostintheMachine at 10:24 AM on September 29, 2016


I would guess that he had to tell his crew of pirates that they were going to kidnap her from the kidnappers to ransom her off.

Once he rescues her, this is likely the first time he has gotten any details of her marriage.


I believe she's selected as Humperdink's bride shortly after Westley's death - in the book she was remembered by the Count who saw her when he and the Countess stopped by the farm; she started making herself beautiful when Westley closed the door in her face to try to win him, not realizing he already loved her and closed the door to get ready to go earn money to be worthy of her (note how beauty in women is equated with wealth in men - this is typical of our current culture). It's after Westley leaves that Humperdink has his first abortive betrothal and then asks the Count to find him someone who is beautiful, rank and intelligence unimportant, and the Count remembers Buttercup (who in the meantime kept making herself beautiful for Westley and then became the most beautiful when she lost him).

In the book it's strongly implied that he's at her first public appearance, which is when her betrothal is announced (which is five years or so after his "death"). There's a line about someone looking at her with hate, if I recall the details correctly. Timing-wise in the movie he had to have been following her when she's kidnapped in order to know she was and follow that quickly - strongly implying he intended to confront her when she was alone; he follows before her horse returns to the castle alone to signal she's been kidnapped by agents of Guilder.

Westley's timeline says he studied with the DPR three years before becoming him, so there are two unaccounted for years before he comes back. THIS implies strongly that he returned when he heard she was getting married (as does his comments to her about her being incapable of love) and came to confront her upon learning of her engagement. That also explains why he doesn't reveal himself as soon as he "rescues" her; he has his own revenge scheme in the works which doesn't last beyond the reveal. His motivations are much more consistent with anger than with love, but they're framed as love because we're used to male love interests being angry/possessive/unreasonable/aggressive in our stories, like we're used to women's value being in their beauty while men's value is in their money (interestingly, from Buttercup's perspective, the important part was Westley's beauty, but that's sidelined by and large; Westley went to earn money for HIM not for her).
posted by Deoridhe at 2:27 PM on September 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Had they consulted the hive mind of ask.metafilter to ask about what to do while they were still on the farm, we would have told them to just f'ing talk to each other.

It would have been a much shorter movie that way. Buttercup confesses to Wesley that she loves him but is worried about x, y, and z. Wesley confesses his love and doesn't care about x, y, and z but doesn't think he is worthy of her. They talk it out, get married and go on to have a normal and happy life on the farm raising as many or as few children as they want.

My take away from most love stories is, "Just talk to each other about your thoughts, feelings, and relationship and you'll save yourself a lot of hassle and heartache."
posted by VTX at 10:25 AM on September 30, 2016


You're never gonna be a successful Hollywood screenwriter with that attitude.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:40 AM on September 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am one of the people that started fencing because of this movie. If you've ever thought about it, I encourage you to take a lesson. I thought it was going to be a bunch of rich, old money types, but it turns out fencers are weird and wonderful, and I'm not surprised that many MeFites are fencers.

Had they consulted the hive mind of ask.metafilter to ask about what to do while they were still on the farm, we would have told them to just f'ing talk to each other.

Use Your Words -- The Story of Princess Buttercup
posted by Room 641-A at 2:44 PM on October 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


we would have told them to just f'ing talk to each other.

And then a year later, the hive mind would be advising her to just DTMFA. At least William Goldman would be happy.
posted by happyroach at 4:03 PM on October 1, 2016


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