From Page to Screen: The Princess Bride (1987)

The Princess Bride

I’ve watched The Princess Bride since I was in middle school (that was in the mid-90s, yikes!). I remember my favorite teacher, Mr. Doss, would pop it in on slow days (before holidays, before assemblies, early release, etc.) and we would sit there, totally enthralled by the story telling every.single.time.

My friend and I would walk home to my house after school, pretending to be Fezzik and Inigo. She always got to be Inigo. That used to irk me because I thought that Inigo was the cool one. I would have to be Fezzik because I was taller than her. We’d re-enact the “Fezzik, I need you!” scene and I would “break down” the door to my house with my shoulder. Looking back on it, I’m glad I was forced to be Fezzik because he always was my favorite character, even back then. I hid it from everyone so they wouldn’t make fun of me, just like I hid the fact that I still watched Power Rangers after school. You know, because you *really* care what your peers think of you when you’re 12. I was so  preoccupied with trying to look cool that I didn’t realize that Fezzik was strong and loyal, and that made him cool too.

What I loved:

  • The adaptation of the book. The book calls itself “the good parts version,” meaning that it’s abridged to remove the boring stuff. You’ll probably need to read my review of The Princess Bride (book) to understand this. But basically, I think that the movie is “the good parts version” of the good parts version. The film removes a ton of extraneous meta-narrative from the book and leaves the heart and soul of the story. It’s brilliantly done. The only meta that exists within the film is Peter Falk and Fred Savage playing modern-day grandfather and grandson. It provides a welcome entry into the story.
  • The acting. Carey Elwes does a fantastic job as Westley. He brings the perfect amount of sarcasm to the character. I also love Mandy Patinkin and Andre the Giant as Inigo and Fezzik. They were the perfect casting choices. Even though the film cut a lot of their back story, they gave Inigo and Fezzik real depth and created a real friendship between the two.

What I didn’t love:

  • They didn’t really emphasize how stupid Buttercup is. Those were genuinely funny moments in the text that I would have liked to see translated to the film. I always hated that, in the movie, Buttercup never tried to be proactive in her own destiny. But if you read the book, you figure out that she doesn’t because she just doesn’t think of it. She makes fun of herself on multiple occasions.

Book vs. Movie

Movie wins. It’s one of those rare occasions where the film adaptation enhances the story. It’s “the good parts version” of the book.

© 2014, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.

  • Wow, movie trumps book. Now I definitely want to see it. Thanks for a good review.

  • JessicaWorkman

    I think you should! Let me know what you think of it.

  • Ah the book is always better. Wonderful comparison review

    • JessicaWorkman

      Thanks! I used to think that the books were always better but I’m finding out that sometimes (in my opinion, of course) that it just isn’t true.

  • Greg Hill

    Nice review. I’m glad the movie wins in this case because I haven’t read the book, I tried once but the whole meta- narrative thing put me off a bit. 🙂 I should probably tackle it again for the backstories if nothing else, it would be nice to know more of Fezzik and Inigo. And I had no idea Buttercup was such an idiot in the bok, THAT’s interesting…

    • JessicaWorkman

      Oh yes. She knows it (and admits it) too. Very funny. Give the book another shot. You might like it now. 🙂 Thanks for commenting.

  • I love that so many people just loved this movie and liked to act it out. I use so many quotes from the movie in everyday conversation. People are probably like “wha???”. I agree with you about movie winning over book. Usually that is not the case but this movie is so well done and the casting blows me away!

    • JessicaWorkman

      “I do not think that means what you think it means” is my favorite to say to people. 🙂

  • Michelle

    I love the movie, but I’m really curious to see how the book reads. I’m like Angela, I adore quoting this movie, and most people have no idea I’m quoting it. It makes me a bit sad, lol.

    • JessicaWorkman

      My college freshmen students are getting younger and younger every year and I find they haven’t seen any of the classics. I showed them a clip from Independence Day and they’d never seen it. I about died.