If you are a fan of storybook romances, I’m sure you won’t miss wishing a happy 30th this week to The Princess Bride, which was released in movie theaters on September 25, 1987.
In case you weren’t aware, The Princess Bride didn’t immediately rocket to a place in the hearts of millions across the globe. Though the production itself was a labor of love, as recounted in As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride (more below on this delightful memoir by Cary Elwes), the marketing department at Twentieth Century Fox wasn’t quite sure what to do with the film, and as a result it did not do well at the box office. However, as studios began releasing films on VHS and the popularity of owning films to watch at home began to grow, The Princess Bride enjoyed a second chance at life, and as a result it has branded itself onto the hearts of people across the world.
Whether you’d prefer to celebrate with a night out or in, read on for a few options that you have to help The Princess Bride ring in its 30th year.
1. See It on the Big Screen
These days it has become popular to show classic films on the big screen, allowing fans to experience them in a way that is rarely captured at home, regardless of the quality of one’s home-theater system. On October 15 and 18, fans will be able to see Westley and Buttercup overcome adversity and reunite in true love in theaters thanks to some screenings sponsored by Turner Classic Movies. There is a matinee and an evening show on each day.
Though The Princess Bride is in regular rotation at movies in the park, due to its age (less expensive to show than newer releases) and its timeless appeal to different ages of audiences, and in fact these are excellent opportunities to share love for the film with other fans, there’s nothing quite like experiencing an old favorite in high-quality picture and sound in the comfort of a movie theater. In the Twin Cities, it’s being shown in seven different theaters, including the Showplace Icon at the West End, AMC Eden Prairie Mall, and Marcus Oakdale Cinema, all of which have reserved seating available for their showings. A word of advice: if you plan to attend, absolutely get your tickets in advance, and arrive early if you’re not reserving seats—it is very possible these showings will fill up early.
2. Watch It at Home
Of course, if you’d rather not fight the crowds or pay movie-theater prices, another wonderful option is to stay in and experience The Princess Bride on the small screen at home. After all, the roots of the film’s popularity lie in home-video releases, and one could argue you would be experiencing it the way the true fans responsible for its eventual success did back in 1988. Enjoy it on your own or make an evening of it and invite friends over.
If you own (or decide to purchase) the Blu-ray edition, you can experience such extra features as two separate commentaries to enjoy with the film, multiple featurettes, and True Love: The Princess Bride Phenomenon, wherein Rob Reiner, Robin Wright, and Cary Elwes reunite and discuss the film and its rise to fame. Pick it up here or wherever you purchase Blu-rays.
Extra points if you pick it up on VHS or Laserdisc. That’s what I’d call true love.
3. Read about the Making of the Movie
Did you know that during the filming of one scene, Cary Elwes was actually knocked unconscious, and that take made it into the film? Did you know that the cast had dinner together in their hotel almost every night while filming on location? Did you know that André the Giant had a plainclothes policeman follow him around whenever he visited New York City?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then you’ve probably read Cary Elwes’s memoir As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales of the Making of The Princess Bride. If you haven’t, prepare to be be delighted and to fall in love with this film all over again when viewing it through the eyes of a man who not only starred in it but is one of its biggest fans himself.
I would title a review of this book “A Love Story within a Love Story about a Love Story.” Reading it is comparable to visiting an old friend and discovering that not only are they just as lovely and charming as you remember, but there are entire new levels of lovely and charming that you didn’t even know about. Nearly everyone who worked on this film appears to have loved it as much as its fans have come to—and reading it is like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket made up of that love. Whether you choose to read it (the book comes with pages of delightful behind-the-scenes and rarely seen photos) or listen to it (the audiobook is narrated by Cary Elwes himself, with many of the contributions read by his costars), you are in for a real treat. This book is not to be missed by any fan of The Princess Bride.
Pick it up on Amazon, order a signed copy from the official Princess Bride website (there were still copies available from his most recent signing as of this past weekend), or head to your local bookstore.
4. Read the Book That Inspired the Movie
It’s been at least a decade since I read The Princess Bride, so I can’t speak to it with any recent authority. What I can tell you is that I will be rereading it this month. As Cary Elwes recounts in his memoir, the 1973 novel was much beloved—so much so that the film almost didn’t get made (and in fact, there were several initial failed attempts) because no one believed a film could do it justice. If you’re fan of the movie and you haven’t read the book, I’d recommend remedying that now.
5. Introduce the Movie to a New Generation
Though it might be difficult to find someone who doesn’t know how incredible The Princess Bride is, this can be perhaps the most rewarding way to commemorate the film. If you have children in your life, I recommend making an excuse to stay with them at bedtime (send their parents out for a date!) and recounting the story of the greatest sword fight in history, for example, or Buttercup’s and Westley’s adventure in the fire swamp. My son recently turned four, and our bedtime ritual involves me telling one of the stories from the film, whose first half breaks out into surprisingly effective vignettes that are just long enough for a bedtime story. I start with telling the story of how Buttercup and Westley fall in love and continue through the Man in Black following her kidnappers through the water, then the next evening the Man in Black’s epic sword fight with Inigo Montoya, and so on, until we’ve done the whole movie over a series of evenings—at which point my son often asks me to start over, which might be one of my favorite things about our bedtime routine.
These are only a few ways to remember a beloved film this month—you could also check out one of the official board games, pick up a Princess Bride coloring book, or start working on your Dread Pirate Roberts Halloween costume. Whether you choose one of the options here or come up with your own, say “As you wish!” and help to keep this wonderful piece of fantasy film alive for generations to come.