In The Princess Bride, a young boy (Frank Savage) is sick and home from school. His grandfather (Peter Falk) sits by his bedside to keep him company and reads aloud to him. Initially, the boy is disgusted by the fairytale his grandfather reads, because he thinks it’s going to be all about kissing and romance. Gradually he’s drawn into the tale and begs his grandfather to continue.
The movie moves between the book’s fairytale world and the boy’s bedroom. The book is about a young woman called Buttercup (Robin Wright) and her true love, a handsome farm boy called Westley (Cary Elwes). When Westley is captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts and Buttercup is forced into an engagement with Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), all hope of reunion seems lost.
Before the royal wedding, three outlaws kidnap Buttercup. They soon discover that they’re being followed by a mysterious masked man. They try to outrun him using their sword-fighting skills, brute strength and superior intellect, but the masked man manages to beat them all and capture Buttercup himself. Of course, Prince Humperdinck and his entourage are also in hot pursuit, determined to bring Buttercup back to be married.
The masked man and Buttercup must outrun all their pursuers and survive many perilous moments to save Buttercup from marrying a man who isn’t her one true love.
Fairytales; true love; storytelling; magic and supernatural; adventure; romance; revenge
The Princess Bride has frequent violence. For example:
- There are several dramatic sword fights, one of which results in death. One has some blood.
- There are two intense scenes of torture and electrocution. In one scene, a man screams in agony as he dies.
- A man is bashed against boulders.
- A man is poisoned.
- The masked man violently kills a large rodent.
- Buttercup prepares a dagger to commit suicide.
- The masked man threatens Buttercup with his fist. He says that where he’s from, there are penalties when a woman lies.
- A man is stabbed in the abdomen and covered in blood.
- The outlaws grab Buttercup from her horse and knock her unconscious.
The Princess Bride has some sexual references. For example:
- The masked man comments on Buttercup’s ‘perfect’ breasts.
- There are several kissing scenes.
- When the masked man knocks the giant man down with a boulder, the masked man says, ‘May you dream of large women’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
The Princess Bride shows some use of substances, including adults drinking alcohol.
Nudity and sexual activity
The Princess Bride has some coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Princess Bride is a classic fairytale adventure story. It has a great storyline for children to enjoy but its wit, humour and farcical elements will also entertain adults on a different level.
It’s important to be aware that there are a few scenes that are very scary for younger children (the eel attack, the fire-swamp and rodents, and the torture). Even if you loved this movie as a child, it’s worth waiting until your children are at least nine years old before enjoying it with them. It’s also worth mentioning that the movie objectifies women, portraying them as powerless and merely decorative.
These are the main messages from this movie:
- True love will never die.
- Honour is everything.
- Vengeance can rule your life.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include bravery, loyalty, intelligence and love.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like the following:
- Princess Buttercup doesn’t seem to have much control over what happens to her. She keeps being passed from one person to another. Do you think this is how it would have been in the past? Do women and girls have more freedom now?
- Inigo Montoya has spent his whole life seeking revenge and hunting down the man who killed his father. Is this a good way to spend your life?