The Princess Bride

“Heroes. Giants. Villains. True Love. – Not just your basic, average, everyday, ordinary, run-of-the-mill, ho-hum fairy tale.”

The Princess Bride is a classic film in my family’s home. I still remember the first time I watched it over ten years ago and today it’s still one of my favorite movies.

The story begins with a grandfather arriving to read to his grandson who is sick in bed. While the grandson is skeptical, the patient grandfather stills reads him this story of true love, adventure, miracles, torture, rather large rodents, and revenge…

“As You Wish” (The Good)

When you truly love a movie, it’s easy to tell and brilliant films shine out in the midst of the mediocre. The Princess Bride is just such a movie. It is, without a doubt, a story for the whole family and the characters are so real and so genuine that they are easily latched onto in an instant.

The sword-fight between Inigo and the Man in Black is one of the best that I’ve ever seen in any film. Every actor does an incredible job and the plot and dialogue are well-developed, face-paced, and fun.

“We Know the Dangers of the Fire Swamp…” (The Bad)

While the good outweighs the bad in The Princess Bride, there are still a few dangers to be careful of. There is at least one use of S.O.B. and some taking the Lord’s name in vain. Mention is made of a woman’s chest. One of the characters becomes drunk, but another character revives him. Revenge is a major aspect of the plot and is an all-consuming trait for one of the characters.

As for violence and blood, there are some sword fights as well as a battle with large rodents. Blood is seen at multiple times through the film and one character is stabbed. Torture plays a part of the plot and, while those scenes aren’t gory, they are intense and disturbing.

Even though the romance is mild compared to so many films today, there are several rather passionate kisses and a scene with a man without his shirt on (while he is being tortured).

Another thing that bothers me is one couple in the film. The husband tells his wife, “Get back, witch!” and she replies, “I’m not a witch, I’m your wife!”. This a terrible picture of how a married couple is treating each other. Additionally, the grandson is disrespectful to his grandfather multiple times and does not honor him the way that he should.

“Is This a Kissing Book?”

One thing to note is the way that true love is presented. As Christians, we know that true agape (purposeful and committed) love is only found in Jesus Christ and He is the only one who can satisfy our needs. The Princess Bride focuses on phileo (emotional and affectionate) love which is, undoubtedly, important in a marriage, but should only come after the man and woman have joined their spirits and minds through studying the Scripture and through prayer. Agape love should come first in any would-be romantic relationship, with phileo love next, then followed by eros (sensual) love after marriage. By no means should a couple decide to get married simply because of an emotion. Those feelings of phileo love fade and then the couple is left with a broken marriage. Instead, all unions should be grounded in a selfless agape love, based on a mutual devotion to Jesus Christ and a desire to serve Him together. As Christians, we don’t get married because it feels good; we get married because we know that we will be able to serve God better as a team than we ever could on our own.

Spoiler Alert >>> Since The Princess Bride claims to be a film about “true love” it would be fitting to compare the relationship between Buttercup and Westley to the description of love found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

Love is patient and kind;
Throughout the film, Westley is a man who, on more than one occasion, demonstrates true love to Buttercup. He waits for her patiently while working on her family’s farm. He waits for her for years after he has been supposedly murdered by pirates. Patience and kindness continually prevail in his attitude towards her.

love does not envy or boast;
Never once in the film do I recall boasting from either Westley or Buttercup. Also, even though Westley does become upset at Buttercup for becoming engaged to Prince Humperdinck, his outburst was not rooted in envy.

it is not arrogant or rude.
While Buttercup is rude to The Man in Black, that is before she knew him to be her Westley. She had been rude, proud, and arrogant to him before, however, while he was a simple farm boy and before she realized that she loved him. Once the two became a couple, they spoke to each other with tenderness.

It does not insist on its own way;
Sadly, Buttercup often does what seems best to her and seeks after what would suit her feelings. On the other hand, Westley gives of himself continually for Buttercup and does not pursue the easy road. He scales mountains, fights giants, endures torture, suffers betrayal, and even dies and comes back to life all for the one whom he loves.

it is not irritable or resentful;
In her heart, Buttercup is not angry at Westley for leaving and being supposedly killed by pirates, but she does regret what has befallen. Westley is an amazing example in every other instance, but this is where he falls short. He is resentful towards Buttercup for becoming engaged, but ends up forgiving her in an instant.

it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,
Refreshingly, neither Westley or Buttercup delight in evil. They genuinely desire the best for each other.

but rejoices with the truth.
This is a more difficult point to analyze. Since The Princess Bride is not Christian in its world view, there is no real Truth for the characters to rejoice in. Still, Westley and Buttercup rejoice in each other and in knowing that both are alive and well. They find joy in the hope of being together one day.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
While this describes Westley wonderfully, Buttercup falls devastatingly short. Westley bears trials and hardships to rescue Buttercup. He perseveres and refuses to give up. While he is always faithful, Buttercup falters again and again. She doubts that Westley will come for her, she doubts in the constancy of true love. Buttercup denies the hard path of endurance and seeks the one that will gratify her emotions instead.

Love never ends.
This point is beautifully summed up in the film. When Westley and Buttercup are reunited, there is a beautiful piece of dialogue when Westley tenderly asks Buttercup, “I told you I would always come for you. Why didn’t you wait for me?” She replies, “Well… you were dead.” His response is, “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.” While there is no marriage in heaven, love will be perfect after death and we will all be able to love each other as Christ does, as coheirs and brothers and sisters in Him. <<< End of Spoilers

“The End”

While Westley and Buttercup’s relationship claims to be a representation of “true love” only Westley can stand up to the description in the Bible. He is a true man that is willing to give his very life for the woman whom he loves. Buttercup, on the other hand, is an immense disappointment. She pouts and mopes when she doesn’t get her way. She is weak and demanding. All considered, this relationship seems like another instance where Hollywood takes an ideal man and has him fall in love with a woman who is far from perfect. Sadly, this is the type of story that women enjoy today and it only causes discontentment in a marriage. Being married is not about a woman being doted on by a man and not having anything but a pretty face to offer him in return. It’s about hard work and learning to live and love as Christ would have us do. Disappointingly, The Princess Bride does not accurately portray real true love as found in the Scriptures.

In conclusion, if you are at a loss for a movie to see and want something classic, thrilling, and beautiful, watch The Princess Bride. Keep a discerning mind, though, while you watch the film especially as regards the relationship between Westley and Buttercup.

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  1. I didn’t like this movie, as I recall. It was definitely memorable, but I didn’t care for it overall. I think it was the kid bellowing a curse word at his grandfather that killed it for me. 😀

    However, I greatly enjoyed your analysis, especially on love. Very good job.

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