The Princess Bride (1987)
Menu Animation & Audio
|Year Of Production||1987|
|Running Time||94:09 (Case: 93)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (49:58)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Rob Reiner|
Magna Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
††† The Princess Bride is one of my all-time favourite films. It is superbly absurd, even surreal. It presents itself on at least two levels at all times. I can think of no better description than one I heard in one of the featurettes: "this is where Disney meets Monty Python". I rather like another tag line: "She gets kidnapped, he gets killed, but it all ends up all right", but it doesn't capture the essence of the film as well.
††† This is the story of a sick boy (Fred Savage) being read a story by his grandfather (Peter Falk). It's a story of fencing, fighting, pirates, revenge, a princess, and true love - it's The Princess Bride, by S Morgenstern.
††† The story is simple enough - a young woman (Robin Wright, in her first role), a girl really, falls in love with a boy (Cary Elwes) who works on her farm. He is poor, so he cannot support her, and so he goes off to seek his fortune and is killed by pirates. She mourns his death. Five years later, she is engaged to marry Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), even though she doesn't love him. She is out riding when she comes across a Sicilian called Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), a Spaniard called Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), and a giant called Fezzik (Andre the Giant - a former wrestler). They kidnap her, and sail away, pursued by a man in black, wearing a mask. Now read on...
††† A child may watch this movie, and just enjoy the superficial story - it follows pretty much all the conventions: the bad guys are evil, the good guys are pure of heart, exposition is delivered with a straight face, and there's lots of derring-do and buckling swashes. But an adult (or aware teen) watching the movie will be jolted out of complacency by the subtle touches of the surreal. Much of this comes in the dialogue - the dialogue in this film is wonderfully quotable. But it's not just the dialogue - consider two men about to engage in a swordfight to the death. While waiting for the one to catch his breath, the other tells a story from his past, and hands his sword over to the first for inspection; rather than skewering him with it, the first examines it, comments on its superior quality, and hands it back... These are honourable men! (and this is a surreal world)
††† The book The Princess Bride, by William Goldman (who wrote scripts like Marathon Man), is quite strange - it purports to be an abridgement of a political satire of the same name, by S Morgenstern, with all the boring political satire removed, and commentary by Goldman inserted. The commentary (on the R1 disc) claims that Goldman's father used to read this story to him, but leaving out all the boring bits. I'm very glad that Goldman chose to rewrite the framing story for the movie - it's far too complicated to fit. If you love the film, and want to read the book, be prepared for a bit of a slog.
††† Cary Elwes has never played a role better suited to his style. He captured the upright young hero brilliantly, delivering the silliest of lines with a straight face and earnest expression. Robin Wright is fine as the princess. Mandy Patinkin is wonderful as Inigo Montoya, the highly-skilled Spanish swordsman bent on revenge. Andre Roussimoff (Andre the Giant in the wrestling ring - this was his only acting role) plays a lovable giant. Chris Sarandon makes a perfect arrogant Prince Humperdinck, just as Christopher Guest is marvellous as sinister Count Rugen. I cannot picture anyone but Billy Crystal as Miracle Max. I also love the cameos by Peter Cook (the Impressive Clergyman) and Mel Smith (the Albino).
††† This movie is a rare thing - it is a film that the entire family can enjoy. It won't offend anyone (except, possibly, Sicilians). If you don't enjoy this film, check your pulse - you may be dead.
††† This film is presented in an aspect ratio of about 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. That's the original theatrical aspect ratio - I like that.
††† The image is fairly sharp - there's just a touch of softness, which helps eliminate aliasing, but it's nice and clear. Close-ups are superbly sharp. Shadow detail is very good. There's no low-level noise.
††† Colour is very good - there are some lovely bright colours, but they look a little off. There's no oversaturation or colour bleed.
††† There are film artefacts, in fact quite a few if you count the really tiny ones, but they are not distracting - perhaps the worst are a white blob at 34:37, and a black spot at 25:09. There is no significant aliasing, and no noticeable shimmer. This is quite a good transfer.
††† There are no subtitles, which is a shame.
††† The disc is single-sided and RSDL-formatted. The layer change is at 49:58 - it is not a good layer change, because it interrupts the score, but it only lasts a moment. The R1 Special Edition has a far better layer change - it's inside a silent black frame after Westley is knocked unconscious.
††† There are three soundtracks, all in English. I only listened to the dts soundtrack, and sampled the Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Surround soundtracks. I have to question the decision to put a dts soundtrack on this film - it's not the sort of soundtrack that needs dts. The fact is, you would have great difficulty telling these three soundtracks apart.
††† The dialogue is clear and comprehensible, with no audio sync errors (there's what looks like an error at 12:58, but watching it repeatedly I'm convinced it isn't). The wit of the dialogue means that this clarity is essential.
††† The music, by Mark Knopfler, is superb (lots of guitar, understandably). I had thought he wrote the theme song, too, but that's not the case - the theme song was written and performed by Willy De Ville (although Knopfler arranged it).
††† This soundtrack makes almost no use of the surrounds, and nearly no use of the subwoofer. My sub switched off for most of the movie, only coming on at 40:10 for the flame spurt in the fire swamp. The surrounds have one or two ambient sounds, but nothing you'd miss if it were absent.
|Surround Channel Use|
††† The menu is animated with sound, with some nice transitions.
††† This is a slowly changing montage of stills from the film. Not a very exciting extra, but it's the only one.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
††† There have been two versions of this movie released on DVD in Region 1. The first was a movie-only effort, and was not 16x9 enhanced (there are second-hand copies floating around - don't buy one thinking it's the Special Edition) - the picture is not at all bad, but it's not a tour-de-force. The second is a Special Edition, and really deserves that name - it has lots of extras, including two commentaries, one by William Goldman (writer), and one by Rob Reiner (director).
††† The R1 Special Edition is missing:
††† The R4 is missing:
††† As you can see, the R1 Special Edition is rather special, and crammed with extras. My guess is that Magna Pacific was unable to negotiate licensing for these features at a low enough price.
††† The artwork for all three DVDs is quite similar (all have the princess high left, with Buttercup and Westley low right, with Westley brandishing a sword), but they are all different. Sadly, the R4's artwork is a bit blurry.
††† If the dts soundtrack were truly compelling, the choice between the two discs would be difficult. As it is, the R1 Special Edition stands out as the superior disc. If you only want the movie, the R4 is perfectly adequate.
††† The Princess Bride is a marvellous movie, on a reasonable DVD.
††† The video quality is quite good.
††† The audio quality is good.
††† The extra is insignificant - if you want extras, get the R1 Special Edition.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|