Alternative Modes in The Princess Bride
In The Princess Bride, no pain nor danger can diminish the courage and humour of the heroes. The classic fantasy spoof succeeds as a captivating yet hilarious tale of true love. Wesley’s conviction upholds his love for Princess Buttercup, even through near death, torture, and the prospect of living in a fire swamp. Likewise, Inigo and Fezzik show warm love despite their life of crime. Their heroics inspire the ideal of love while constant humour and courtesy show kindness even in dire straits. Things are not what they seem. Anything is possible. In any trial, people can be differently than circumstance might normally suggest them to be.
With Wesley thought dead, Buttercup resigns herself to a hollow marriage with Prince Humperdink and captivity by Vizzini’s gang. Little does she know, Wesley is alive. His love is disguised as menace as he pursues her pretending to be the pirate who purportedly killed him. One of countless surprises proving that appearances can be deceiving and anything is possible — even coming back from the dead — or ‘almost dead.’
Always hopeful and true, Wesley, Inigo, and Fezzik form their circumstances by how they are being. For example, Inigo and Fezzik each meet Wesley intending to kill him, but mutual respect makes animosity impossible. Their combat is interlaced with politeness, respect, and humour. Inigo and Fezzik are considerate and fair in their assumed advantages (a life-time of sword training and mammoth strength). Wesley defeats each one with kindness. He knocks them out mercifully, and to Inigo, says, ‘please understand I hold you in the highest respect.’ For the giant, his parting words are ‘I do not envy you the headache you will have when you wake. But in the meantime, rest well, and dream of large women.’
The unorthodox heroes constantly defy the odds. Inigo miraculously unlocks the tree chamber where Wesley lies almost dead, defeats his nemesis despite the dagger in his gut, after raiding the castle with a paralyzed Wesley. But the implausible is convincing because the characters brave it all with exuberance and faith. Just watch Inigo’s eyes fill with love as he leans drunkenly into the giant hands of his long lost friend. ‘It’s you,’ smiles Inigo. ‘True,’ says Fezzik.
But goodness prevails most powerfully between Wesley and Buttercup. After separation, torture, near death, and even a wedding with Prince Humperdink, they reunite at last. ‘Death cannot stop true love.’ It endures because Wesley is faithful to the core that he knows is true, no matter what obstacle he faces. His love prevails like the humour that never wavers despite the adventure, or the depth of Wesley and Inigo’s quest that resonates despite the comedy. The Princess Bride is odd — hilarious but moving — farcical but serious. Like the characters who never conform to adversity, the movie demonstrates that, no matter what is happening to us, we can be differently in it.