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A 1987 movie adapted by William Goldman from his 1973 book of the same name, The Princess Bride is about the trials of true love in the Renaissance European nation of Florin. The story stars Buttercup, a simple yet incredibly beautiful farmgirl, and Westley, the farmhand she enjoys ordering around. Although they realize that they share the incredibly rare thing called "true love", fate conspires to keep them apart, as Westley is lost at sea.
Five years later, Prince Humperdinck, who rules Florin in place of his elderly and doddering father, decides to celebrate the kingdom's 500th anniversary by marrying Buttercup, who is still the most beautiful woman in the kingdom. Buttercup, knowing that the Prince is well within his rights and believing she can never love again anyway, reluctantly agrees.
In a plot against the throne, Buttercup is kidnapped by the criminal trio of Vizzini (the mastermind), Fezzik (the dumb muscle) and Inigo Montoya (the world's greatest fencer, traveling to avenge his father) - but their steps are hampered by a mysterious man in black who seems determined to stop them at all costs. The subsequent adventures are madcap, iconic and brilliant.
The movie uses a Framing Device of a grandfather (Peter Falk) telling the story to his sick grandson (Fred Savage) with the boy complaining about the story at various points. ("They're kissing again.")
- Acquired Poison Immunity: The Man in Black has been building up an immunity to iocane powder for several years.
- Advantage Ball: Goes with Flynning as always. Westley's To the Pain speech and its results also qualify.
- Affectionate Parody: Pulls off the tricky balancing act between joyful appreciation and subtle (and not so subtle) parody.
- And Now You Must Marry Me: The Scarpia Ultimatum version.
- And Starring: Robin Wright as The Princess Bride.
- And Then What?: As is lampshaded at the end, Inigo didn't give much thought to what he'd do after he avenged his father.
- Arranged Marriage: Buttercup to Prince Humperdinck.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Prince Humperdinck and Count Rugen; the King, however, is merely senile.
- As You Know:
- Badass Spaniard: Inigo Montoya plays this one to the hilt.
- Battle of Wits: Iocane powder. That is all.
- Best Served Cold: Inigo's quest for vengeance against six-fingered man Count Rugen.
- The Big Damn Kiss: "Since the invention of the kiss there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind. The End." Made ironic when the kid insists on skipping or editing all the kissy stuff.
- The Big Guy: Fezzik. "It's not my fault I'm the biggest and the strongest. I don't even exercise."
- Bits of Me Keep Passing Out: Inverted and Played for Laughs as it takes a while for Miracle Max's cure to fully take effect on Westley, and Inigo and Fezzik have to carry him around while Storming the Castle as bits of him are "waking up" one at a time.
- The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: During his duel with Inigo Montoya, the Man in Black throws his sword. It spins end over end and impales itself in the ground point first.
- The Brute: Subverted. Fezzik is really quite a nice guy.
- Buy Them Off
- Catapult Nightmare: Buttercup.
- Catch Phrase: "Hello, My Name Is Inigo Montoya. You Killed My Father. Prepare to Die." Also, "As You Wish" and "Inconceivable!"
- Choke Holds: The Man in Black knocks out Fezzik with a blood choke. It takes several minutes and they have a rather cordial conversation all the while.
- Clark Kenting: The Dread Pirate Roberts and Westley. It's amazing Buttercup takes so long to realize it.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Which, unfortunately, leads to Westley's death. Don't worry! He gets better!
- Collapsed Mid-Speech: Vizzini collapses after a short speech, in the middle of his Evil Laugh.
- Comically Missing the Point:
Buttercup: *kisses the king on the cheek*
- Confession Deferred: Inigo trying to convince Miracle Max to work cheap:
Inigo: This is noble, sir. His wife is... crippled. His children are on the brink of starvation.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: Explained by Fezzik whilst going toe-to-toe with the Man In Black.
"Well, I haven't fought just one person for so long... You see, you use different moves when you're fighting half a dozen people than when you only have to worry about one."
- Cool Mask: The Man in Black. It's just terribly comfortable!
- Creepy Monotone: Count Rugen, in terrifying contrast to the World of Ham around him.
- Cruel Mercy: The To the Pain sequence.
- Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: Buttercup after being untied.
- Curb Stomp Battle: During the Storming the Castle sequence, four palace guards charge our heroes. Inigo kills them in five. seconds. flat. Without ever taking his eyes off Count Rugen.
- Derailed for Details: The kid in the Framing Device, occasionally. Sometimes asking to skip romance scenes or Get On With It Already.
- Determinator: Inigo in his fight with Count Rugen. Stabbed repeatedly and still keeps coming. He will avenge his father's death.
- Distressed Damsel: Buttercup. She's especially useless in the fight with the ROUS. C'mon, swing that branch, don't just jab with it like a pool cue! Or, considering that the love of your life who you just found out wasn't dead, might end up dead after all at the hands/teeth of this creature, you might want to pick up his sword, which is on the ground right next to you.
- Double Take
- The Dreaded: The Dread Pirate Roberts.
- Dreaming the Truth: Buttercup and the Ancient Booer.
- Dueling Scar: Inigo Montoya has two scars down his cheeks, which is understandable, given his career as a swordfighter. They are later revealed to be a humiliation inflicted upon him at the age of eleven after the first time he tried to avenge his father's murder by Count Rugen.
- Dumb Blonde: Buttercup doesn't come across as dumb so much as sheltered and naive, which makes sense, given she's almost instantly transported from a tiny farm into royalty. She also lampshades it with some Self-Deprecation while she's nailing Humperdinck with a pretty fair Kirk Summation.
- Electric Torture: Vacuum, actually, but the trappings apply.
- Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: The Impressive Clergyman.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Even Count Rugen is aghast when Humperdinck gets his hands on the machine to torture Westley.
Count Rugen: NOT TO FIFTY!
- Though you'll notice that he watches in what looks to be interest rather than shutting the Machine off.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Buttercup actually gets promoted to princess, because she was born a commoner but Humperdinck wants to marry her.
- Evil Albino: Count Rugen's henchman.
- The Evil Prince
- Excuse Me, Coming Through:
Inigo: Excuse me... Excuse me... Fezzik, please?
- Fairytale Wedding Dress
- Fake-Out Opening: The film begins with the boy playing a video game. (He might be using a Nintendo controller, but the game is Hardball -- looks like C64 version -- which never came out for the NES.)
- Faux Affably Evil: Prince Humperdinck and Count Rugen.
Rugen: Your princess is quite a winning creature. A trifle simple, perhaps, but her appeal is undeniable.
- Fingertip Drug Analysis: Parodied.
Man in Black: What you do not smell is called Iocaine powder. It is odorless, tasteless, dissolves instantly in liquid and is among the more deadly poisons known to man.
- Five-Bad Band: (At least before the kidnapping)
- Foregone Conclusion: The grandfather tells his grandson the ending of the story midway through the movie, although the specific details have been left out.
- Flynning: The duel on the Cliffs of Insanity in the film is basically an homage. The screenplay explicitly says they're Flynning as they have nothing personal driving their duel and are trying to have fun with someone who can fight as well as they can.
- Fractured Fairy Tale: Interruptions in between and the occasional Rodents of Unusual Size.
- Framing Device / Separate Scene Storytelling: The kid and the grandpa, and the main scenes of the movie.
- Genre Savvy: The entire story.
- A particularly good example from the film:
Westley has been told he will be returned to his ship after being captured by the Prince.
- Gentle Giant: Fezzik.
- Get It Over With: Inigo to the man in black.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Even though it's a real name, you tell me what "Humperdinck" sounds like.
- One of the Brute Squad greets Inigo, who replies in the King's Spanish:
Brute: Ho there!
- Give Me a Sign: While holding the sword his late father made, Inigo asks his father's spirit to guide his sword and lead him to Westley. Then he closes his eyes while holding the sword out in front of him, and ultimately sticks it into a tree. Feeling let down and probably foolish, Inigo slumps down onto the tree. And then it opens up...
- The Good King: Unfortunately one so doddery that The Evil Prince is reigning for him.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars:
- Inigo has Good Scars.
- And Count Rugen gets Evil Scars! For bonus points they're exactly the same wounds he's inflicted on Inigo, from cheeks to gut. (And then he dies ten seconds later).
- Goes to Eleven: Count Rugen, played by Christopher Guest. Actually a literal Goes to Eleven -- he has eleven fingers.
Rugen: One day I might go as high as five, but I really don't know what would happen.
- Hair of Gold: Both Buttercup and Westley.
- Happily Ever After
- He's Just Hiding: Invoked.
The Grandson: "Wait, what did Fezzik mean, 'He's dead?' I mean, he didn't mean dead; Westley's only faking, right?"
- He Will Come for Me: No less than three Will Come For Me moments.
- A variation while Buttercup is held prisoner by the Man in Black.
Buttercup: No matter where you take me, there's no greater hunter than Prince Humperdinck. He could track a falcon on a cloudy day. He can find you.
- While Buttercup is waiting for Westley to come take her away.
Buttercup: Any word from Westley?
- A third variation, at the wedding.
Buttercup, hearing the sounds of fighting: Here comes my Westley now.
- Heel Face Turn: Inigo and Fezzik, technically.
- Henpecked Husband: Miracle Max, to an extent.
Valerie: Liar! Liar! LIIIAAAAAR!
- Heroic Second Wind: Inigo isn't going down that easily.
- Home, Sweet Home: Westley wants to settle down with Buttercup.
- I Am Not Left-Handed: The Chatty Duel is the Trope Namer. Inigo is the "I" in question but as it turns out, neither is the Man in Black.
- Ice Queen/Defrosting Ice Queen: Buttercup goes from one to the other and back again throughout the story. She starts out cold, then defrosts when she realizes she's in love with Westley, then freezes up again after he's murdered by pirates, then defrosts again when he shows up.
- I Don't Pay You to Think: Vizzini tells Fezzik "You were not hired for your brains!"
- Ignoring by Singing: Miracle Max's response when his wife provokes him by reminding him of his treatment by Prince Humperdinck.
- The Igor: The Albino.
- Subverted: He starts speaking in a typical "Igor voice", then coughs and continues speaking in a perfectly normal voice.
- I Gave My Word: Played straight by Inigo as Westley is trying to climb the Cliffs of Insanity. Twisted around when Prince Humperdink promises not to hurt Westley if Buttercup goes quietly (planning to let Count Rugen do it), but ultimately subverted when Humperdink mostly kills Westley himself.
- I Know You Know I Know: "...so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me! But you would have counted on my thinking that, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you!..."
- Incendiary Exponent: Fezzik during the storming of the castle.
- Indecisive Medium: The film is about reading a book.
- Informed Attractiveness: Princess Buttercup, while pretty, is far from the "most beautiful woman in the world".
- Instant Plunder, Just Add Pirates: The Dread Pirate Roberts, to be precise.
- Inter Class Romance: Buttercup, a commoner, and Prince Humperdinck, prince, to the extent that it counts as a romance.
- Ironic Echo: "I swear it will be done." (Prince Humperdinck and Count Rugen)
- Karma Houdini: Prince Humperdinck.
- King on His Deathbed: Prince Humperdinck's father
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When Buttercup tells Humperdink that Westley will come for her, he looks straight at the camera and smirks in response.
- Legacy Character: The Dread Pirate Roberts. Westley reveals that he is at least the third person to use the mantle in order to uphold the legend. Fezzik even briefly takes up the identity to scare a few guards in one scene. At the end of the movie, Inigo wonders what to do now that he got his revenge, and Westley passes the name to him.
- Leitmotif: Skillfully done with Fezzik's plodding slide trombone theme. You can't help but smile when you hear it, especially in this scene:
- Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Inigo Montoya and Westley have a most cordial conversation before they fight.
- Life Isn't Fair:
- In response to the grandson's protest at a certain (apparent) plot development, the grandfather simply says, "So who says life is fair? Where is that written?"
- A similar sentiment is the line in both book and movie (though in very different contexts):
"Life is pain. Anyone who says differently is selling something."
- Living Legend: Less than the book. The Dread Pirate is the only legend present in the movie, though Inigo may inherit it and... improve upon it.
- Look Behind You!
- Marry for Love
- Metafictional Device: Used, lampshaded and parodied everywhere.
- Mexican Standoff: Between Vizzini and the Man in Black, leading up to the battle of wits.
- Mickey Mousing: Used throughout the movie to varying degree and effect, but the most noteworthy instance has to be Inigo Montoya's fight against Count Rugen.
- Minion with an F In Evil: Inigo and Fezzik. "I just don't think it's right, killing an innocent girl." And of course "'My way' is not very sportsmanlike."
- Mobstacle Course: Inigo in a crowd until Fezzik shouts "Everybody MOVE!"
- My Name Is Inigo Montoya
- The Napoleon: Vizzini.
- Neutral Female: Buttercup is hilariously useless.
- Never Say That Again:
- Humperdinck! Humperdinck! Humperdinck!
- Also, Count Rugen: "Stop saying that!"
- Noisy Nature: Shrieking eels.
- No Time to Explain: "Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up."
- Only a Flesh Wound: In his final battle with Count Rugen, Inigo twice deflects sword thrusts into his shoulder and yet seems to show no visible effect from it.
- Only Mostly Dead: Trope Namer. After Humperdinck kills Westley, his friends take him to Miracle Max, who diagnoses him as "only mostly dead" and thus a candidate for revival.
- One-Scene Wonder: The Impressive Clergyman (British comedian Peter Cook), Miracle Max, and Valerie.
- Our Hero Is Dead: Well, it just so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.
- Out-Gambitted: Go ahead and go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line if you are immune to a poison you are using.
- Overly Long Scream: Westley, when Humperdink charges into the Pit of Despair and cranks Rugen's life-sucking machine to its maximum setting.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: It took "As You Wish" to realize it?!
- Passing the Torch: Suggested in the film that Inigo will take Westley's place as the Dread Pirate Roberts.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The Dread Pirate Roberts, when he's on screen anyway. Justified, as he spends a good deal of the time either not being the Dread Pirate Robers, in the fire swamp, in the Pit of Despair, mostly dead, or trying to rescue Buttercup.
- Person with the Clothing: The Man in Black.
- Pet Rat: The goons hired by Prince Humperdink whose job is to clear out the Thieves Quarter. Not to mention Vizzini and his crew.
- Pistol-Whipping: Sword whipping, actually.
- Plot-Powered Stamina: Fezzik's arms never get tired.
- Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo: Part of Vizzini's Batman Gambit that revolves around the aforementioned I Know You Know I Know.
- Power Trio: Fezzik is the Id, Inigo is the Ego, and Westley is the Super ego.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: Interesting case since the author himself adapted it to a screenplay. The book had far more characters (who were usually only important to one other character) who had great lines transplanted on to movie characters. ("Life hurts. Anyone who tells you different is selling something." was said by Fezzick's mother to her son in the book, not Westley to Buttercup.) However, William Goldman has a long and storied career as a Hollywood screenwriter, so he is better suited than most writers to adapt his work. In particular, it seems like he had a Fridge Logic moment near the end that he added into the screenplay -- presumably Buttercup didn't say "I do" in the book either, but Westley doesn't think of that, instead just saying basically "Well, that's okay, you won't be married to him very long."
- The extraordinarily complicated stack of frame stories and unreliable narrations in the book, all focused on the reader-writer relationship (S. Morgenstern's novel -- in Florinese and in translation; the version Goldman remembers his grandfather telling him; Goldman's opinionated summaries of sections he's "cut"; the unflattering fictional "Goldman" narrating the outer layer, complete with unflattering family life; commentary by his copy-editor and an eminent Morgenstern scholar; the supposed 'real' history of Florin and Guilder, and of course the actual book) is slimmed down to one simple frame story, removing practically all the postmodernism and satire, for the movie. Hilariously, the fictionalized Goldman discusses and complains, in the book's introduction, about the restrictions imposed by executives when adapting books for Hollywood; the real Goldman clearly knew exactly what he was going to have to do for the movie adaptation when he wrote the book.
- Precision F-Strike: A single instance of "You son of a bitch" is the closest the film gets to an actual swear word. And even that ends up Bowdlerized when shown on TV, becoming "You son of a witch."
- Fred Savage's "Jesus!" counts as this, too, especially having the context and emotion of a "WTF?".
- Prepositional Phrase Equals Coolness: The Cliffs of Insanity, the Man in Black, the Rodents of Unusual Size, and the Pit of Despair, just to name a few.
- Pressure Point: Fezzik uses a Vulcan Neck Pinch on Buttercup.
- Pretext for War: The plot behind Buttercup's kidnapping.
- Prince Charmless: And Murderous!
- Psycho for Hire: Count Rugen
- Physical Scars, Psychological Scars: Inigo Montoya has a scar on each cheek given to him by the man who killed his father which serves to strengthen his drive for revenge.
- Punch Clock Villain: Inigo and Fezzik.
Inigo: I work for Vizzini to pay the bills. There's not a lot of money in revenge.
- Punch-Punch-Punch Uh-Oh
- Quicksand Sucks: In the cave with the ROUS.
- Rated "M" for Manly
- Rags to Royalty: Buttercup.
- "Reading Is Cool" Aesop
- Red Right Hand: It has six fingers.
- Resurrection Sickness
- Rhymes on a Dime: Fezzik, much to Vizzini's annoyance.
- Robotic Torture Device
- Rodents of Unusual Size: The Trope Namers are one of the hazards of the Fire Swamp.
- Scare Chord
- Scarecrow Solution: "The Dread Pirate Roberts" rig that Fezzik wore.
- Scarily Competent Tracker: Prince Humperdinck!
Humperdinck: Someone has beaten a giant. There will be great suffering in Guilder if she dies...
- Scheherezade Gambit: Westley's relationship with the previous Dread Pirate Roberts.
- The Scream: Wesley's torture. Poor bastard.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules: "I want my father back, you son of a bitch!"
- Secret Test: When Westley rescues Buttercup, his True Love, from her kidnappers, he doesn't reveal his true identity, in the hope of finding out whether she still loves him or not.
- Shout-Out: Westley's "man in black" outfit is a dead ringer for the costume Douglas Fairbanks Sr. wore in the original Mark of Zorro.
- This sequence.
Fezzik: Why are you wearing a mask? Were you burned by acid or something like that?
- The Slow Walk: Inigo during his final duel with Count Rugen. Justified because he was seriously injured at the time.
- So Beautiful It's a Curse: Buttercup. Her beauty is enough to get her promoted to future queen, except the Prince threatens to kill her if she refuses. And he's planning to kill her anyway. In fact, if she were slightly less beautiful, the whole conflict wouldn't have happened.
- Something Only They Would Say: Roberts saying "As you wish", reveals himself to be Westley.
- So What Do We Do Now?: Inigo gets his revenge, but he spent all his adult life in pursuit of it. What should he do? Fortunately Westley passes on the mantle of The Dread Pirate Roberts to him.
- Sparing the Aces: The Man in Black would no sooner kill a genius than shatter a stained glass window.
- Stealth Pun: At the end of the movie, when Inigo wonders what to do with his life:
Inigo: Is very strange. I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it's over, I don't know what to do with the rest of my life.
- Inigo appears to accept the offer, or at least be considering it. What the viewer has likely forgotten by this point, though, is that the Dread Pirate Roberts' ship is named The Revenge -- which would put Inigo right back in the Revenge business.
- Stop Saying That: Count Rugen, verbatim, to Inigo Montoya.
- Storming the Castle
- Stunned Silence: Buttercup to Westley after he praises the Fire Swamp.
- Swashbuckler: Not a completely pure example of the genre, but containing many, many of its elements.
- Sword Fight: The "Chatty Duel". One of the best sword fights on film. (see I Am Not Left-Handed)
- Take a Third Option: Vizzini attempts this during the battle of wits. Unfortunately for him, so did the Man in Black, and rather more successfully.
- Tap on the Head: The Dread Pirate Roberts to Inigo (swordhilt) and Fezzik (stranglehold), Count Rugen to Westley (swordhilt), and Fezzik to the albino (fist) and the shrieking eel (fist).
- Averted during filming, as indicated on the DVD commentary: Cary Elwes encouraged Chris Guest to hit him hard when Rugen knocks Westley out; as a result production shut down for the day while Elwes was rushed to the hospital.
- Tempting Fate
Buttercup: [While in the Fire Swamp] Westley, what about the R.O.U.S.'s?
- In this example, Westley is clearly just trying to assuage her fears, as he's looking over her shoulder at about three of them shortly before he says the line.
- Terrible Trio: Vizzini, Inigo, and Fezzik are either an example of this or Three Amigos. Because Vizzini is a cad, but Fezzik and Inigo are mostly good, but on the other hand Inigo and Fezzik both help to kidnap Buttercup and, oh Never Mind! Later becomes heroic when someone gets slapped with iocaine powder.
- Theme Naming: Florin and Guilder are different names for the same medieval European coin. Currency with those names is still in use today.
- Thicker Than Water
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Drop. Your. Sword.
- Try and Follow: The Fire Swamp and the Cliffs of Insanity.
- Two-Faced Aside: When Buttercup asks Humperdinck to promise he'll return Westley to his ship:
Humperdinck: I swear it will be done. [aside to Count Rugen] Once we're out of sight, take him back to Florin and throw him in the Pit of Despair.
- Unconscious Objector: Inigo's arm seems to block Count Rugen's coups de grace independently. At that moment, "conscious" wouldn't fairly describe Inigo, who seems ready to Go Into the Light.
- Undead Author: The Dread Pirate Roberts takes no prisoners. (In the original novel, it's explained that this doesn't mean he kills everybody: he kills anybody who resists, but anybody who hands over their valuables without resistance gets to go free -- and spread the word, so that the next set of victims are less likely to resist.)
- Unreliable Voiceover: "Fezzik took great care in reviving Inigo." This is said as Fezzik shoves Inigo's head into alternating basins of hot and cold water. Repeatedly.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sound: All of one person other than the main characters seems to notice the eerie, overlapping scream that's loud enough to be heard all over Florin. And he just turns his head slightly before walking on, all of the other peasants blithely ignoring it. Of course, Inigo has to tell Fezzik to stop and listen before the giant acknowledges it, so it might simply not be as loud to the characters as it is to the viewers.
- Video Credits
- Villainous Breakdown: As Inigo refuses to die, and slowly gains the upper hand on Rugen in their duel, Rugen first becomes shaken, then demands that Inigo "Stop saying that!"
- Villainous Friendship: A Type I; Humperdink trusts the Count completely, the Count worries for the Prince's health, and they seem to genuinely enjoy each other's company.
- Wall Slump: Inigo has a famous one after Rugen stabs him... several times.
- Wham! Line:
- "As you wish!" as Roberts tumbles down the hillside.
- Humperdinck is presented as a Jerkass for claiming Buttercup as a trophy wife - though he seems sincerely concerned that Guilder kidnapped her and plans to kill her - and later imprisoning Westley to get him out of the way. Then he reveals that he was behind Buttercup's abduction all along, and was trying to frame Guilder for it, and will instead murder her on the wedding night and frame Guilder for that instead.
- Who Are You?
Inigo: Who are you?
- World's Most Beautiful Woman: Buttercup. Previous holders of the title lost it through either skin disease, too much chocolate, and their paranoia that they'd lose the title.
- You Fight Like a Cow: The famous Inigo/Westley duel, but with compliments instead of insults. (In most DVD editions, that chapter is titled "The Chatty Duelists".)
- You Keep Using That Word: As Inigo says, Vizzini does not seem to know what "Inconceivable" means.
- You Killed My Father
- You Were Trying Too Hard: Inigo looking for the entrance to the Pit of Despair.
Grandson: Grandpa...do you think you can read it for me again tomorrow?
- "Think it'll work?" "It'll take a miracle."