on October 21, 2011
This is a terrific movie that has so many different editions of the DVD and now Blu-Ray discs that it gets very confusing as to what is in each version.
A search of the internet shows several reviews that describe the differences between the DVD versions. Basically the "Dread Pirate Roberts" edition and the "20th Anniversery" edition have different special features not in the other edition.
As of this writing, there are three versions of the Blu-ray - the Blu-ray only edition, and the Blu-ray + DVD edition in either a Blu-Ray or the old style DVD case.
What makes it confusing is that Amazon and other sellers of this Blu-Ray only edition list this movie as a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, implying that it might be a different movie cut, while the other two Blu-ray editions are listed as 1.85:1 aspect ratio. No doubt this, together with the fact that the Blu-Ray + DVD edition has almost the same price, has hampered sales of this Blu-Ray only edition.
Well, I went ahead and got the Blu-Ray only edition, mainly because I thought that there might be a chance that the 1.33:1 ratio was because some older movies were filmed on 35mm film which has a natural 1.33:1 aspect ratio, and then were cropped top and bottom to a 1.85:1 ratio to give them a widescreen look. On the other hand, the very first DVD edition released for Princess Bride notoriously had a horrible pan-and-scan cropped to fullscreen 1.33:1 aspect ratio that showed less of the movie than the widescreen version, which is not what you want to see in a Blu-ray. I was hoping for the other possibility that the listed 1.33:1 for this Blu-ray edition meant that cropping had been removed from the widescreen version to show MORE of the movie as it was originally filmed.
However, on playing this Blu-ray, it was immediately obvious that this Blu-Ray only edition is the same 1.85:1 aspect ratio as the other Blu-Ray editions. So all those listed descriptions of this Blu-Ray as a 1.33:1 aspect ratio are just flat out wrong.
What are the other goodies on this Blu-Ray? The Special Features include:
Audio Commentary by Rob Reiner
Audio Commentary by William Goldman
The Art of Fencing
As You Wish, The Story of The Princess Bride
Cary Elwes, Video Diary
The Dread Pirate Roberts: Greatest Pirate of the Seven Seas
Fairy Tales and Folklore
Love is Like a Storybook
Original Theatrical Trailer
Princess Bride: The Untold Tales
So, this Blu-Ray contains essentially all the special features of the "Dread Pirate Roberts" edition and the "20th Anniversary Edition" except for the DVD games and the booklet. The special features are in their original DVD or lower quality video resolution, although it seems that some of the excerpts from the movie itself have been re-edited to use the higher Blu-Ray resolution.
The Blu-Ray quality is excellent, except for being a bit grainy in some parts - tweaking the sharpness or edge enhancement helps, if you have this feature on your Blu-Ray player.
Finally, a few words about the movie - it is an absolutely wonderful classic - a warm, romantic, and humorous mythology, one of those perfect family movies that could be shown every year just like "A Christmas Story". It was known to be the late Andre the Giant's happiest experience in life, playing the role of Fezzik; he regularly watched the movie afterwards.
It belongs on the list of my favorite films of all time.
on June 20, 2006
Here's what is new on the 20th Edition DVD:
- "The Princess Bride: The Untold Tales"
- "The Art of Fencing" Featurette
- "Fairy Tales and Folklore" Featurette
- "True Love and High Adventure: The Official The Princess Bride DVD Game
The Dread Pirate Roberts/Buttercup Editions include all of the Special Edition features plus:
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround) Audio Track
"Dread Pirate Roberts: Greatest Legend of the Seven Seas" mockumentary
"Love is Like a Storybook Story" featurette
"Miraculous Make-up" featurette
Quotable "Battle of Wits" trivia game
Collective booklet: "Fezzik's Guide to Florin"
I prefer the Dread Pirate Robert's/Buttercup Edition, but there are three reasons why you might want to buy the new 20th edition:
1. You don't already own the movie (shame on you).
2. You collect all things Princess Bride.
3. The DVD cover art is fantastic!
on April 9, 2002
I remember when I first saw this movie, around age 13, I had no idea who the Man in Black was through the entirety of the first act. Sure, it's apparent now, given the benefit of hindsight, but because of the actor's anonymity at the time I never made the obvious connection. On top of that, most of the rest of the cast was unknown to me as well (except for the one non-actor, Monsieur Roussimoff, a.k.a. Andre the Giant). The sweeping anonymity of the company allowed the film to do two things: first, the audience isn't distracted by the presence of the Big Star; and second, unknown actors allow for no preconceived notions of their characters. Which in turn allows the filmmakers to subvert character types, and insert some true surprises into the story.
Which, to make a long point even longer, is the whole ethos of the film
William Goldman's book "The Princess Bride", on which this film is based, intended to tell only the 'good parts' version of the story of Westley and Buttercup. That is, it would leave in the high drama and action and romance, while curbing the back-stories and superfluous exposition. William Goldman, in his role as adaptor of the book into a screenplay, remains fiercely loyal to this proposition. He's constructed a framing device, wherein a grandfather is reading to his sick grandson, which allows him to make meta-fictional comments on the seemingly typical fairy tale being told. In doing so, however, he subverts the fairy tale's typicalness, making it much more surprising and revelatory. At one point the grandson worriedly asks about the fate of the villain: "Who kills Humperdinck?" The grandfather calmly answers, "No one. He lives." Which is not only a true statement, for that is exactly what happens, but it doesn't even come close to ruining the end of the story. On the contrary, it increases the suspense, and makes what does happen quite astonishing.
Rob Reiner, in only his third time out in the director's chair, does a wonderful job of translating Goldman's script to the screen. He utilizes elements, whether by choice or by budgetary restraints, that would at first appear incongruous, but work as a whole to keep the audience off-balance, and thus more receptive to the surprises the movie has in store for them.
The acting is, stylistically, all over the place. It ranges from the unabashed over-the-top passion of Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya), to the bumbling buffoonery of Wallace Shawn (Vizzini), to the gentle anti-acting of Andre the Giant (Fezzik), to the unsubtle Snidely Whiplash villainy of Chris Sarandon (Prince Humperdinck), to the Borscht Belt mugging of Billy Crystal (Miracle Max), to the icy malice of Christopher Guest (Count Rugen), and the stark realism of Robin Wright (Buttercup, the title character). No two actors take the same road, but they all somehow arrive at the same location. Cary Elwes, playing the hero, is the only one who falls easily into all these styles, as the situation demands it. He is menacing, suave, cool, funny, athletic, simple, sweet, fierce, etc., etc., etc. Elwes and Patinkin are the standouts for me -- their swordfight atop the Cliffs of Insanity is technically brilliant, literate, and extremely entertaining -- but the entire cast effective. Even the smaller roles (British comedians Mel Smith and Peter Cook each have brief but memorable one-joke cameos) make their mark.
The film's musical score, composed by 'Dire Straits' frontman Mark Knoplfer, swings and sways from moment to moment. In one, he uses stark, bouncy lines to underscore a simple scene of Fezzik and Inigo trading rhymes. In the next, he layers synthesized strings to call up the gravity of the Man in Black's chase. My only problem with the music is the song written for the closing credits: it's weepy and melodramatic, without the sense of subversive fun that had prevailed up until that point.
The sets and scenery switch back and forth between real and obviously fake. Filmed in and around the English countryside, most of the outdoor locations (the severe valley, the woods) breathe reality and beauty into the story. Others, such as the Fire Swamp, the Pit of Despair, and the plateau above the Cliffs of Insanity, have the phony feel of a Hollywood soundstage. Again, the film keeps the audience on their toes.
So now that I am 27 instead of 13, and know back-to-front the filmmographies of all the actors involved, and have seen the film more than a dozen times, and can quote lines from it at the drop of a hat, do I find it any less appealing than on that first viewing? Of course not. Goldman and Reiner's film rewards multiple viewings, with its wit, its playfulness, and most importantly, its subversiveness. Will there ever be a time when I tire of watching it? A time like that is right now, as Vizzini might say, "inconceivable".
on September 6, 2001
The MOVIE: at first glance, this is your basic fairy-tale-fantasy-love-story between Princess Buttercup and her dashing lover Wesley. Mix in some pirates, giants, swashbuckling Spaniards, evil geniuses, dungeons w/ torture devices and six-fingered men, and you have possibly the best non-animated family classic of the 1980s. It's also the favorite (and usually most-quoted) movie of many of my friends. In sum, words cannot do justice to this movie, so please rent it.
The DVD: I absolutely refused to buy the first DVD release of this movie, as it was non-anamorphic (i.e., will not fit on widescreen TVs) and was sorely lacking in extras. This SPECIAL edition is well worth the wait. First of all, you have two high-quality featurettes from 1987, each roughly 10 minutes long. The first one is a look behind the making of the movie and includes on-location interviews of the actors between shots. The second featurettes is more of the same, although it focuses more on providing unique insight into the decisions behind the casting of every major character in the movie. Also included is a 5-minute video diary by Cary Elwes, which is basically Cary with a camcorder filming himself and other members of the production at various points (e.g., practicing with his fencing teacher, the crew eating meals, etc.). Cary and Robin Wright provide voice-over commentary.
However, the true gem of this disc is the 30-minute "As You Wish" Documentary, in which all the principals (Cary, Robin, Rob Reiner, Billy Crystal, Fred Savage, William Goldman, Mandy Patinkin, etc.) look back from 2001 at the entire history of The Princess Bride, from the reasons as to why Goldman wrote the original book in 1973, to his decade-long attempt to get it put on film, to the choice of Rob Reiner and its subsequent filming, and to the legacy the movie has left in the 15 years since its release. In covering almost every aspect of The Princess Bride, this documentary is often funny, sometimes sentimental (especially when the actors reminisce on their memories of Andre the Giant), and always fascinating.
Lastly, the DVD contains two audio commentaries, one by Rob Reiner and a separate one by William Goldman, with each providing their respective insight into the various parts of the story and its filming. (I will say, however, that Rob Reiner's commentary is much better than the sparse one he gave in the DVD for "When Harry Met Sally").
In sum, this is the consummate DVD for any true fan of the movie. I can't imagine too much more that could have been added to this DVD which would have made it too much better. A truly, can't-miss DVD. If you own the first release, you won't regret trading it in for this one.
on November 12, 2007
I am a great lover of the Princess Bride, so when the 20th Anniversary Edition came out, I pre-ordered it and eagerly awaited it's arrival. Well, I got it on Saturday, popped it into the DVD player and fully expected to be dazzled by all of the new extras. There's one new featurette on the movie, which does not feature Cary Elwes. There's an intro to the new PB game that's out. And a featurette about how this compares to other fairy tales. The rest of the features that were so awesome in the special edition, like Cary Elwes' video diary? Nothing else is included. I was very disappointed, and wish I had not wasted my money. The movie is awesome, and if you do not own it, by all means, buy whichever version you please. But my own personal preference is for the Special Edition. It sounds like the Buttercup/Dread Pirate versions are cool too. Just wanted to warn you all so you don't make the same mistake. Thanks!
This review is for the Blu-Ray edition.
The Princess Bride is directed by Rob Reiner (This is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me) and stars Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, André the Giant, Fred Savage, Robin Wright, Peter Falk, Peter Cook, Carol Kane, and Billy Crystal. The musical score is composed by Mark Knopfler of the pop-rock group Dire Straits. The film is based on the 1973 book of the same name written by William Goldman.
When a young boy is ill and his mother has to leave for the day, she has the boy's grandfather come over to look a fter him. He brings along a book called The Princess Bride, to read to the ailing boy. The story comes to life, and is filled with exotic locations, inhuman creatures, knights and soldiers, medieval kingdoms, giants, pirates, corrupt princes, criminals, and a variety of other fantasy elements. The story largely focuses on Buttercup, a young princess who is forced into a forthcoming loveless marriage to the local prince, following the death of the farm boy she loved. But is he really dead and gone?
Rob Reiner is, and always has been, one of the most diverse directors in the entertainment industry. There's nothing the guy hasn't done - comedy, drama, satire, suspense, romance, coming-of-age tales, the list goes on. His films are always great, and yet, no two are alike. He rarely fails to please, and The Princess Bride just might be his best film of them all. It rivals even the classic mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap for the covered title of "Best Rob Reiner Film."
Equally deserving of credit is William Goldman, who wrote the novel in 1973 that inspired the film. Numerous attempts to make the book into a movie fell through in the past, but after seeing how well Reiner handled the material, it's not hard to see that those delays are for the best. Goldman himself was no stranger to Hollywood, having written a number of screenplays. His credentials include the screenplays for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President's Men - both of which won him Academy Awards.
And then there's the cast and the characters they play. Robin Wright appears here as the princess Buttercup, in one of her first major film roles. Other memorable performances include Cary Elwes as the farm boy she loves, Mandy Patinkin as a Spanish swordsman out for revenge, famed wrestler Andre the Giant as (you guessed it!) a giant, Chris Sarandon as a corrupt prince, Christopher Guest as a count and the prince's right-hand man, Wallace Shawn as the loudmouthed, self-proclaimed genius leader of a group of thieves, and Billy Crystal as a hideous miracle worker. I can't go to into what makes these characters and their actors' performances great because a) I don't want to spoil the movie and b) their performances have to be seen to be appreciated.
Rob Reiner directed a classic for the ages with this film. While he claims the film he will be remembered for is Stand by Me, I honestly think in the long run, THIS is the film people will remember him for. It's a fantasy tale with a ton of brilliant elements combined ingeniously, and perhaps most importantly, it's easily accessible for young and old alike. Easily one of the greatest films ever made.
So, you want The Princess Bride to look and sound better than it ever has before?
As you wish.
This is a back-catalogue transfer done right. Throughout the course of the movie, the picture exhibits a substantial upgrade from earlier DVD releases of the film. Fine object detail has increased greatly (I noticed some very subtle writing and details on things in the grandson's room I could never have made out in standard def), and the image is clear and well-defined throughout. Grain is consistent throughout, and only tends to spike in a few scenes - and even when it does it's hardly an issue. Even deep, dark scenes maintain a strong level of detail and depth. Audio gets an upgrade to lossless, and this benefits a number of portions of movie - everything from sound effects and speech to Mark Knopfler's musical score.
Special Features: When the 20th anniversary DVD was released two years back, it was absolutely, positively inconceivable that the bonus features from earlier DVD releases were omitted.
Fortunately, it looks like the crew that put this DVD together got Miracle Max to work a few miracles on this disc. And they aren't rushed, rotten miracles either. He took his time.
I don't have access to an older version of the film (so don't quote me on this), but as far as I can tell, this set contains all of the bonus features from earlier pressings on the movie on DVD, as well as the most recent anniversary edition. This includes a Rob Reiner commentary track, a William Goldman (author of the book) commentary, and a ton of behind-the-scenes footage and documentaries. There's even a standard DVD included (which houses some of the features) in case you find yourself without access to a Blu-Ray player. Whether you're a giant or a six-fingered count, you won't be disappointed by the wealth of bonus material presented here.
The Princess Bride blends so many storytelling elements seamlessly, serving not only as a story that satirizes these clichéd elements, but also embracing them as well. It's a brilliant fantasy story that stands the test of time, thanks to its colorful characters, great performances, and exotic locales. There's something for everyone here, and a gorgeous Blu-Ray transfer only adds to the experience. Needless to say, this disc gets my highest recommendation.
on May 4, 2000
Combining dead-on perfect casting, superb direction, an impeccable comedic script and sumptuous visuals, The Princess Bride is a marvellous piece of cinematic storytelling that, thanks to its brilliant combination of childlike wonder and adult sarcasm (that in itself being a great feat), is accessible to viewers of all ages.
The enchanting Robin Wright is wonderful in the title role, with her expressive face and aura of melancholy. Her accent is so convincing that for years I actually thought she was English. (she's from California.) Cary Elwes' cocky, eccentric turn as Westley, the dashing swordsman with a smart mouth, is a stereotyped persona that remains with him to this day, but it works beautifully in this film. Mandy Patinkin and Wallace Shawn add their impeccable comic timing as alcoholic swordsman Inigo and the viciously arrogant Vizzini, and Andre the Giant is lovable as "rhyme-loving giant Fezzik". And The Princess Bride sports two great movie villains in Chris Sarandon's Prince Humperdinck and Christopher Guest's Count Rugen, both evil to the core but so charismatically played by the actors that they come off as truly worthy opponents to the chivalric Westley and Inigo. William Goldman is of course a demigod in the world of screenwriting, his lines sharp and his narrative tight and engrossing, while Rob Reiner's comic-book execution fits the tone of the story perfectly without sacrifice moments of tension, drama, or depth. High points: Goldman wrote in his screenplay "one of the two greatest swordfights in modern movies" and Reiner delivers with Westley's duel with Inigo; the encounter with Miracle Max and his wife Valerie (Billy Crystal and Carol Kane in delightful cameos); Fezzik's wrestling match with Westley; the nail-biting entrance of the R.O.U.S.; the hilarious meeting on the castle wall; Westley's showdown with Vizzini.
This movie belongs in any collection.
on February 26, 2001
This is easily a five-star movie, one of the funniest I've ever seen. Intelligent, well-acted, and hilarious (did I mention yet that this is a very funny movie), this movie includes a pair of great swordfights, two perfect breasts, a Sicilian, a Spaniard, an albino, a six-fingered man who may or may not have killed someone's father, several ROUS's (I don't really believe they exist), a rhyming giant (anybody want a peanut), shrieking eels, the cliffs of insanity, and, of course, the Dread Pirate Roberts. But the DVD is simply not up to par. This picture deserves -- no, demands -- an anamorphic transfer, well-mastered sound, and at least a few collector's edition extras. Rob Reiner was up to the task with his DVDs for Spinal Tap and When Harry Met Sally; it's a shame no one cared enough to insist on the same for The Princess Bride. That said, it sure watches a heck of a lot better than my 10-year-old videotape.
LATER EDITS: OK, so now I'm the loser who bought the DVD when it first came out, then bitched about it. Now, a year later, there's a new DVD release, the "collector's edition." Why are film companies such skunks? Release one version of a movie and do it right the first time. That way dedicated fans don't blow their money and then come to feel cheated within a year. It happens ALL THE TIME, and it STINKS!!! I'm sure MGM is laughing all the way to the bank ...
None of this changes the fact that it's a great movie, and I suppose the new DVD edition is worthy of the full five stars.
I'm not going to award it though, because I'm one of those suckers who got gypped into buying this cheap, crappy, money-grubbing pre-release.
on March 7, 2009
Version: U.S.A / MGM-FOX / Region A, B, C
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
MPEG-4 AVC BD-50 / AACS / High Profile 4.1
Running time: 1:38:21
Movie size: 32,99 GB
Disc size: 40,79 GB
Total bit rate: 44.72 Mbps
Average video bit rate: 37.63 Mbps
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3856 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3856 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio French 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Number of chapters: 28
* Audio Commentary by Rob Reiner
* Audio Commentary by William Goldman
* As You Wish: The Story of The Princess Bride
* Cary Elwes Video Diary
* Miraculous Makeup
* The Dread Pirate Roberts: Greatest Pirate of the Seven Seas
* Love is Like a Storybook
--The Princess Bride The Untold Tales
--The Art of Fencing
--Fairytales and Folklore
* Original theatrical trailer
* Easter Eggs
on July 6, 1998
I first saw this movie 10 years ago and I've watched it at least 80 times since (make that 81-- I watched it again last night!). I've completely ruined 2 copies of this movie just rewinding it and rewatching scenes that I loved so much (practically the whole movie).
I can easily do the entire movie from memory, and though it might not be the most technically exceptional film, it has stuff which can be appreciated by people of all ages.
Highly quotable, *very* funny, and just charming, all around. I would (and do) recommend it to everyone! Great performances by Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Billy Crystal, Peter Falk, Chris Sarandon, and the R.O.U.S.es.
If you're interested, the book is also available from this site, but please don't bother looking for the "original" book by S. Morgenstern; it never existed and the whole thing was written by William Goldman (if you don't believe it, email me and we'll talk). The book has more in it, and you get more history of the individual characters, but I have a hard time saying which I think is better.
Oh, one last thing: In the new release of the movie by MGM, there's a bit of a spoiler on the back cover of the video cassette. If you've never seen the movie before, do yourself a favour and *don't* read the back cover of the tape before you watch it.
"[The Princess Bride] is the greatest thing in the world-- except for a nice MLT (Mutton Lettuce and Tomato) sandwich where the mutton is nice and lean, and the tomatoes are ripe... they're so perky, I love that." --Miracle Max END