The Princess Bride

Studio: Criterion

Nov 28, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

It’s hard to believe there was ever a time when The Princess Bride was anything less than a universally-cherished cinematic treasure. As many of the bonus features on Criterion’s deluxe-ified Blu-ray edition of the film remind viewers, the movie belly-flopped in its theatrical release and was briefly considered a failure. Fortunately, its tale was not yet over: The Princess Bride went on to be one of the greatest beneficiaries of the VHS era, discovered and rediscovered on the rental market as fans spread word of its rarely-rivaled charm far across the land. By the onset of the DVD age, The Princess Bride had firmly cemented its legacy as a modern classic.  Now, it’s one of the most popular – or, at the very least, most-quoted – American films of all time.

Sifting through the many hours of bonus materials assemble on the Criterion disc, it’s clear the cast and filmmakers behind The Princess Bride have as hard a time as anyone trying to pinpoint the reason for the film’s lasting appeal. It’s likely because there are just too many. It’s a tale of adventure, of true love, of revenge, miracles, and masculine friendship. There’s romance, humor (lots of it), a giant, a pirate, rodents of unusual size, a fire swamp, and some of the best swashbuckling action you’ll find this side of Errol Flynn’s filmography. As clichéd as it is to say so, there’s quite literally something here for everyone, of any age. If that’s not the direct cause of its appeal, then that will at least be the reason for its continued adoration. Like Peter Falk’s character reading the source novel to a young Fred Savage, it’s a story that we feel compelled to share with the a younger generation. Many of us who grew up on The Princess Bride are now in a situation where we have children of our own with whom to share its magic. In the bonus features it’s passingly described as our generation’s The Wizard of Oz, and that nomination couldn’t be more on-the-point.

Criterion have welcomed The Princess Bride back into their collection after a two-decade absence. (They released a deluxe laserdisc edition all the way back in 1997 – a number of the extras included here hail from their initial release.) It sports a brand new, 4K restoration which presents the film, quite simply, the best it’s ever looked on home video. Bonus features-wise, the disc is overflowing – all of the best extras from prior editions are ported over (including Criterion’s 1997 commentary, and Cary Elwes’ home video footage from the later DVD release) alongside many new ones, including several highlighting the brilliance of the film’s recently-passed screenwriter, William Goldman. All in all, The Princess Bride has some of the deepest-branching menus we’ve seen, even by Criterion’s standards. Everything is housed in a handsome, book-like case, absolutely befitting of the film’s storybook-like nature.


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