Review for The Princess Bride

9 / 10


It’s a weird thing in my movie collection. Every once in a while I get in the mood for a fantasy movie, and it turns out that I always buy them in twos, and it’s always been The Labyrinth, and The Princess Bride. I bought them simultaneously on VHS, then again on DVD, and last year I finally got them on Blu-ray. And it’s not like they’re in a twin pack or anything. It’s also been quite a while waiting to buy them, although in this case, I’ve been waiting on The Princess Bride. The Princess Bride came out first in 2009 on Blu-ray with a host of extra features from previous DVD releases. As was the way back then for back catalogue releases on Blu-ray, they tended to use the same HD source from which the original DVD releases were mastered. In 2012, for the 25th Anniversary, the disc added some new extras to mark the occasion, but used the same transfer as before. Since then, the film has been re-released on several occasions, merely re-using the 2012 disc. The film was long overdue a fresh re-master, and I finally got tired of waiting and opted for the 30th Anniversary release here from Lionsgate.

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And as is typically the way, last September after I had bought the UK release, The Princess Bride got a 4k UHD release in the US, with an all new transfer from the original camera negative, and with a bonus BD disc also struck from that new re-master; what I had been waiting for all along.

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A doting grandfather visits his sick grandson to read him a special book, The Princess Bride, a book with “Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...” It’s the tale of Buttercup and her true love Westley. But when Westley went to sea to seek his fortune, Buttercup’s heart was broken when she learned that Westley died at the hands of the Dread Pirate Roberts. Five years later, Buttercup has agreed to marry the Prince of Florin, Humperdinck. Then, paid to foment a war between Florin and its neighbour Guilder, a wily Sicilian named Vizzini and his two henchmen, Fezzik and Inigo kidnap her. They think it will be an easy job, but then a mysterious masked man appears, intent on taking Buttercup for himself.

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The Disc

The Princess Bride gets a 1.85:1 widescreen 1080p transfer with DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English, with optional English HOH subtitles. Having said all that before about back catalogue Blu-rays using old masters for their transfers, The Princess Bride looks pretty decent on this disc. It’s clear and sharp, although not as sharp as it could be. Detail levels are good, and colours are consistent if a tad muted at times. The big HD mallet struck when I saw the detail in Buttercup’s jewellery when she was introduced to the people. It’s certainly a massive improvement over the DVD. The audio is fine, the dialogue is clear and the action comes across well enough, even if the surround track is front-focused for the most part.

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You get one disc in BD Amaray style case wrapped in an o-card slipcover. The disc boots to an animated menu and you’ll find the following extras...

Commentary by director Rob Reiner
Commentary by author/screenwriter William Goldman
True Love: The Princess Bride Phenomenon
- A Conversation with Rob Reiner, Cary Elwes and Robin Wright (14:58)
- Entering the Zeitgeist (15:06)
As You Wish: The Story of The Princess Bride (27:18)
1987 Original Featurette (7:40)
1987 Making Of Featurette (6:37)
Cary Elwes Video Diary (3:45)

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The Art of Fencing (7:02)
Dread Pirate Roberts: Greatest Legend of the Seven Seas (11:44)
Fairytales and Folklore (9:10)
Love is Like a Storybook (16:44)
Miraculous Makeup (11:24)
Princess Bride: The Untold Tales (9:07)
Trailers and TV Spots
Photo Gallery slideshow (2:45)
Easter Egg (2:37)

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There are certain numbers that I can’t easily get my head around. The fact that it’s more than 35 years since The Princess Bride was released is certainly one of them. When I first bought the film on VHS it had been less than ten. I have also seen this film so often that it’s practically burned into my brain, which begs the question as to why buy it again. Even though the transfer may be creaky, the Blu-ray is such an upgrade that it’s a no-brainer. The film looks quite delectable in high definition, and given that the re-mastered Blu-ray with the new UHD is locked to Region A, that isn’t an option as yet. Also, I got the first DVD release which was, as was the practice back then, completely barebones when it comes to extras. This 2012 BD collects many of the subsequently released DVD extras, and adds a couple of HD extras as well.

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It’s still a delightful movie that many generations can enjoy, and enjoy together. For the younger demographic, it’s merely a delightful adventure story. Heroes and villains, swashbuckling sword fighting, wonderful characters and a perfectly paced story all come together to make for a great deal of fun. But the story is so smart and subversive; there are so many layers to the film that older viewers will get the adventure and a whole lot more. There’s always something new to discover, and this time I was marvelling at just how much this film is a celebration of the art of the storyteller. I’ve been inspired to go through my shelves and find the Princess Bride novel and lose myself in its pages once more.

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I guess I still have to wait for the re-mastered Princess Bride to come to a Region B Blu-ray, but I shouldn’t have waited to get this 12-year old Blu-ray disc in anticipation of something better. I’ve denied myself HD Princess Bride for far too long. It’s a big enough improvement over the various DVD releases to make it well worth upgrading. The Princess Bride is still an eminently quotable cult movie, and long may it remain so.

Your Opinions and Comments

I picked up the book in a charity shop a while ago, it's worth reading, and makes you laugh picturing the scenes in the film, and it's not just a book of the film, or rather it's not a book of the book in the film :)

I picked up the blu ray a while ago, not sure I've watched it though, may have to be one of those ones I tell the kids we're all going to watch a film today and put it on :)
posted by admars on 20/3/2024 10:30
Bought it but haven’t watched it?

posted by Jitendar Canth on 20/3/2024 10:57
lol, i've seen it before, but just haven't got round to watching my bought copy :)
posted by admars on 20/3/2024 11:43
Have fun storming the castle!
posted by RJS on 2/4/2024 21:57