Exeter, Devon UK • Dec 3, 2023 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Arts & Lit Fifty Years of The Princess Bride

Fifty Years of The Princess Bride

Charlotte Jordan reflects on William Goldman's The Princess Bride and its significance fifty years on.
3 mins read
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Image: Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious via Flickr

Fifty years have passed since William Goldman’s cult classic was published, yet The Princess Bride remains timeless. Ask anyone for components of an adventure story, and they will probably list out the obvious: true love, quests, revenge, beasts, fighting… Well, this has it all: Buttercup falls in love with farm boy Westley, who travels overseas to make his fortune. But he is captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts who takes no prisoners, and Buttercup is heartbroken, and forced into an engagement with Prince Humperdinck, ruler of the kingdom of Florin. Vizzini, Fezzik and Inigo Montoya then kidnap Buttercup, hoping to blame the tragedy on the kingdom of Guilder – Florin’s sworn enemy. The man in black comes to rescue Buttercup, as does Humperdinck, and the rest is for you to discover. 

My childhood was built upon afternoons of reading the novel and watching the film adaptation with my dad, and even now it is always the comfort story I return to. Feel like a battle of wits to sharpen your mind? Part Five of the novel will introduce you to Vizzini’s intelligence and a task in which he must decipher which goblet of wine holds odourless and tasteless poison. In the mood for a romance? The true love between Westley and Buttercup remains heartwarming; may we all find our ‘as you wish’ person. You can bet that when I get married, the film’s Impressive Clergyman will be quoted, discussing how ‘mawwiage is what bwings us togeva today’.  

The true love between Westley and Buttercup remains heartwarming; may we all find our ‘as you wish’ person.

It would be ‘inconceivable’ to suggest this masterpiece is no longer relevant to our lives. This week I read that the Princess of Wales’ brother has announced the birth of his son, Inigo (will he also be searching for a six-fingered man to avenge his father…?), so if you find yourself stuck picking children’s names in the future, Goldman has you covered. You will also never struggle with another Halloween costume; from a simple red dress and blonde wig to dress up as Buttercup, to going all out with a Rodent-of-Unusual-Size costume, you’re all sorted! Furthermore, during the iconic scene (though all the scenes are iconic) where Fezzik and the man in black fight, Fezzik asks him why he always wears a mask, and the reply is as follows: ‘I think everybody will in the near future […] they’re terribly comfortable’. Who could have guessed he would be so right as we look back on the last few years. Goldman both gave us a novel to treasure, and inspirational characters; whether you need some of Westley’s dedication to Buttercup, Buttercup’s loyalty, or Humperdinck’s determination, Goldman inspires us to fight for love, revenge, and simply for ourselves.  

Despite not being a blockbuster hit, the film reached 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the popular adaptation allowed the novel to become a cult classic. A good book is always a good book, and The Princess Bride is no exception. So, ‘have fun storming the castle’, and get reading to celebrate fifty years of this cult classic! 

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