The Princess Bride: Special Edition on DVD

Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, André the Giant, Wallace Shawn, Peter Falk. Directed by Rob Reiner. Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic). Dolby Digital 5.1. 98 minutes. 1987. MGM 1002362. PG. $29.08.

In one of this DVD's supplementary interviews, director Rob Reiner suggests that The Princess Bride is comparable to The Wizard of Oz in its appeal to adults as well as children. Quite a claim, but I think he's probably right. Based on a book by William Goldman, The Princess Bride is at once a fairytale adventure-romance and a satire of that genre. The screenplay is by Goldman himself, who has gone on record as saying that, of all the movies he's been associated with (he's one of Hollywood's most prolific screenwriters), this is his favorite. It's one of my favorite movies, and I was delighted when MGM decided to come out with a Special Edition to replace the earlier bare-bones DVD.

As well as having superior video (anamorphic widescreen as opposed to the previous edition's letterboxing), the Special Edition has a lengthy and insightful retrospective documentary, candid videos shot by Cary Elwes, and separate commentary soundtracks by Reiner and Goldman. It's everything that any fan of The Princess Bride would want; the new DVD is a must-have even if, like me, you already own the first edition.

The Princess Bride is the story of the fair Buttercup, who loves and is loved by Westley, the farm boy, but whose beauty catches the eye of the evil Prince Humperdinck of Florin, who's determined to marry her, then kill her. (He's that kind of guy.) Buttercup is kidnapped by a trio of brigands in the pay of Prince Humperdinck, but before the requisite Happy Ending, there are encounters with shrieking eels and Rodents of Unusual Size, an epic swordfight that stands with the best of Douglas Fairbanks and Erroll Flynn, a borscht-belt comedic bit by Billy Crystal and Carol Kane, and a secondary story of revenge involving the Spaniard and his search for the six-fingered man who killed his father: "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

Whenever I hear Mandy Patinkin speak those lines, I get a chill down my spine. In the documentary, Patinkin talks about the special meaning they had for him during the filming, which helps explain why these lines seem so poignant. In fact, just writing about the movie makes me want to see it again. Did you say you want to join me? As you wish.

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