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Princess Bride, The (1987) Print E-mail
Monday, 30 March 2009
Image"Hello.  My name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die."

Those are perhaps some of the most memorable words in cinematic history.  "The Princess Bride" is perhaps one of the most memorable cinematic pieces.  Maybe I am biased, as I was the prime age group targeted when the film was released in 1987.  It is a corny film that doesn't come across as corny.  Having not seen this film in years, it was a real treat to watch.

Aside from the terrific cast, the film has the perfect fairytale story.  It incorporates all of the favorite Disney classics.  As Peter Falk says in the beginning, it's got fighting, sports, fencing, true love, miracles, etc.  There is nothing left out of this film's story.  Even after you know how everything unfolds, you can still watch this film over and over again.

For those that are unaware, "The Princess Bride" is about Wesley (Cary Elwes), a farm boy that is in love with his boss, Buttercup (Robin Wright Penn).  When he sets off across the sea to find their fortune his ship is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who never left captives alive.  Under the assumption that Wesley is dead she is taken as Prince Humperdinck's (Chris Sarandon) bride.

Humperdinck has devised an evil plot to have his bride assassinated by Florene's enemies, Gilder.  She is captured by Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), Fezzik (Andre the Giant) and Inigo (Mandy Patinkin).  On their way to the Gilder frontier, the man in black begins to chase them.  He defeats Inigo, then Fezzik and then Vizzini.

After Buttercup is taken by the man black, it is revealed that he is actually Wesley.  The two love birds are reunited.  Unfortunately, only for a short time.  Humperdinck catches up with them and Buttercup gives in to spare Wesley's life, or so she thinks.  She is taken back to the castle and Wesley is taken to a torture chamber.

Miracle max to the rescue.  Inigo and Fezzik taken a dead, or mostly dead Wesley to the miracle worker.  While it takes him some time to regain his strength, he is alive once again to help Inigo exact his revenge on Count Rugen and rescue Princess Buttercup.

Cary Elwes, Billy Crystal, Mandy Pantikin and Wallace Shawn all turn out terrific performances.  The rest of the cast is good, but not outstanding.  The cast list is long and distinguished.

Director Rob Reiner is a genius.  He is the director of some of the finest films including, "Stand By Me," "This Is Spinal Tap," "When Harry Met Sally," "The American President" and so many others. The film is based on the book by William Goldman.  Goldman also returned to write the screenplay.  Goldman has also gone on to write screenplays for some other blockbuster Hollywood films.

One of the best parts of the film is the music score by Mark Knopfler.  The theme for "The Princess Bride" is highly recognizable.  The classical guitar riff is terrific.  The score makes the film just that much better.

The video transfer of this film is not super, but it the best the film has ever looked.  The most noticeable issue with the transfer is the lack of edge definition.  Foreground and background objects blur together.  The balance between the contrast and brightness is terrific, and colors are nicely saturated.  The black levels and shadow delineation are other weak areas of the transfer.  Dark scenes look flat.  Wesley's black costume has no separation.  Grain is minimal, probably due to some slightly digital noise reduction.  The image is not totally multi-dimensional due to the black levels.  There is no evidence of artifacting or edge enhancement.  Overall this is a great transfer of a beloved classic.

The audio quality unfortunately is not up to par.  It is very akin to the standard Dolby Digital track on the standard DVD release.  The Blu-ray comes with a DTS-HD 5.1 audio track.  There isn't much for the hi-res audio track to handle.  The dialogue is anchored in the center.  While the dialogue is clear, it suffers from a crackling nature.  The dialogue always sounds brittle.  The LFE channel is virtually nonexistent.  The only time that it kicks in is during the wedding sequence.  The surround channels may as well be turned off.  The entire track is front heavy.  This is to be expected as the original mix of the film in Dolby Stereo.  The original stems were resurrected years ago to create a discrete 5.1 mix for the standard DVD edition.  The same mix has been used here.  There is not much in the way of dynamics, and the frequency response of the audio track is limited.  The track sounds fine enough.  I would have just loved a little more warmth to the dialogue.

The Blu-ray comes with all the standard DVD special features.  Only the theatrical trailer is presented in high definition.  First there are two audio commentary tracks.  The first track is with director Rob Reiner and the second is with writer/screenwriter William Goldman.  There are seven short featurettes including, "As You Wish: The Story of 'The Princess Bride,'" "Miraculous Makeup," "The Dread Pirate Roberts: Greatest Pirate of the Seven Seas," "Love is Like a Storybook," "'The Princess Bride:' The Untold Tales," "The Art of Fencing" and "Fairy Tales and Folklore."  There is a video diary with footage shot by Cary Elwes on location.  Lastly there us a theatrical trailer.

As with Disney, MGM looks to be adopting the additional DVD copy of the film.  This Blu-ray release comes with a second DVD disc with the film on it.  This is not a Digital Copy for portable media players, but the special edition standard DVD release.

"The Princess Bride" is loved by so many film addicts.  It truly stands the test of time.  The video quality is an improvement from the standard DVD, but it still lacks edge definition.  The sound quality is only slightly better than the standard Dolby Digital track, but an improvement nonetheless.  I definitely recommend adding this film to your Blu-ray collection.

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