This week marks the 30th Anniversary of the William Goldman classic, “The Princess Bride.”
Three decades later, what stands out most about the film isn’t how equally funny and poignant it is. It isn’t the amazing characters like Inigo Montoya, Fezzik or Princess Buttercup and the amazing performers that brought them to life (Mandy Patinkin, Andre the Giant and Robin Wright, respectively). Nor is it the fact that it’s still one of the most watchable movies out there.
What really stands out to me is that this movie stands alone in a time where standalone films have been given a much lower priority than the “cinematic universe.”
Just think about the era that it comes from. When we think back to pop culture from the 80s, the big hits always came in threes: “Star Wars” (the holy trilogy), Indiana Jones films, and even “Back to the Future” are cultural touchstones with multiple films and entry points that make up its lore and contribute to its lasting appeal.
“The Princess Bride” and its legacy have lasted this long on the strength of one very well-made film, and one well told story.
Today, a genre movie doesn’t get made unless it’s 1) really cheap to produce, 2) licensed from an existing IP or 3) it sets up a universe of films that will earn a studio money for summers to come.
To be clear, I have no problem with these movies. Give me Superheroes and Star Wars and Harry Potter for days, but not to the point where we miss out on the other good stuff that’s out there.
“The Princess Bride” wraps an entire trilogy’s worth of beats into one charming, thrilling and hilarious film. It’s a beautiful story about the power of love, whether it’s between a man and a woman or a son and his father (who he lost too soon), and the lengths we will go to for that love.
Thankfully, it remains a shining beacon of something we see too rarely in films these days: a great story, told as simply as a grandfather comforting his sick grandson.
Its success by today’s standards seems, in a word, inconceivable.