Homework Help: English: Books, Novels & Plays: The Princess Bride
by Emily McPherson
1. How does the opening scene frame the action?
The opening scene is presented as a boy playing a computer game who is interrupted by his grandfather who wishes to read the boy a story. This simple beginning gives an impression that the young boy finds it fun to control the modern computer game, whereas the elderly grandfather finds it enjoying to control an old story book.
As a young person watching this film, I tend to associate more with the boy.
2. Why is a wide scene chosen to introduce Buttercup?
When Buttercup is first introduced to the audience, a distant shot is used to focus on the beautiful spacious country side that she lives within. This is purposely used to convey an image that Buttercup lives far away; she is not related with the audience. This indicates that the story is going to be a fairy tale in a far off land.
3. What is the effect of the close-ups of Buttercup and Westley?
The close-ups are used to establish the love between Buttercup Westley. The main features that these close-ups focus on are Buttercup and Westley's beautiful eyes. This camera effect also closely personalized the two's love for each other.
4. How is their love established cinematically?
Buttercup and Westley's love is characterized by swelling music and a panoramic view of two silhouettes kissing framed by a golden sunset. This cinematic cliche of a love scene creates a mood that the lovers are alone against a big world.
5. For what purpose does the director cut to the child and the grandfather after the kiss?
The cut from a fairy tale world back to reality distracts the mood of the prior love scene, and leaves the audience waiting. This draws attention to the parodied love scene of the movie.
6. Compare the scene of the parting with the sunset scene of the kiss.
The parting scene shows close ups of the lovers' backs standing in front of a dense dark forest on a hill. As a contrast, the scene of the kiss shows a wide angle view of the lovers in front of a glowing sunset.
7. From what angle is the prince shot?
The prince is shot from below looking up to show that he is superior. The camera angle also gives the impression that the prince is very tall and mighty when compared to his followers.
How is the change in the Princess Buttercup established?
After Westley leaves Buttercup's life, so to does the romantic music. When Buttercup is introduced by Humperdink to his followers, Buttercup is surrounded by an aura with light coming from behind. Even though this is a beautiful scene, there is no music to compliment it, this implies that Buttercup is not happy about the Prince's love for her.
9. How does the director parody the bad guys?
When the bad guys appear, they look totally ridiculous: one is short, one is average, and one is tall. Each of the three wears scruffy clothing, have long beards, speak with strange accents and dialogue, and overall look to be a fairly dumb mob. The bad guys are shown to be more comic than evil.
10. How is the cut to the grandfather and child used in the scene where the princess jumps overboard?
The second cut to the grandfather and child is used soon after the princess jumps overboard when she is about to be eaten by an ugly sea creature. This cut is used to not only to hold tension, but to draw attention to the tension.
11. To what tradition does the figure of the masked man comply?
The masked man is said to look like Zoro, however, as I do not know who Zoro is I have associated the man with Robin Hood. The masked man and Robin Hood are similar as they are both always calm, and have the same aim of disobeying the law to save the innocent.
12. How is the convention of the kidnap subverted?
The whole idea of the evil kidnap is overturned into a friendly kidnap with no sense of evil. This whole idea is sending up the traditional conventions of a kidnap. Whilst the kidnap is subverted, the dark clouds in the sky disappeared into the distance.
13. How does the sword fight differ from other fight scenes in films?
The sword fight in Princess Bride differs from any other sword fight that I have scene as it is more a test of wit rather than a test of sword skills. This sword fight also contained a nice friendly conversation which is hardly ever seen between to polar enemies.
14. How is our response to the masked man manipulated?
When the masked man is first introduced, the audience is presented with a situation that involves the masked man having to bring harm the bad guys so that he can rescue the princess. Yet, when he does eventually rescue the princess, he begins and argument with her. This argument makes the princess feel so frustrated with him, that she pushes the masked man down a hill.
15. "Death cannot stop true love." What is the traditional interpretation of this sentiment and how does the film make use of it here?
The film takes the above quote literally whereas it is normally used metaphorically. The usual meaning for "death cannot stop true love" is that love conquers all evils including death. The Princess Bride has used the saying in an ironic way by having the heroine virtually murdering the hero but he doesn't die as true love protected him from injury. This used ironies the idea of true love.
16. Comment on the use of the enchanted forest in the film.
The enchanted forest is shown after the two lovers are reunited once again. Inside the forest, Westley cuts down thick vines and the two of them continue their journey towards the light at the end of the dense overgrowth. This symbolizes that Westley and Buttercup have come together once again and are cutting away the barriers of the love that have grown after living for years apart. This is similar to the metaphor used in Sleeping Beauty.
Throughout their journey in the forests Westley protects his girl friend and acts as a heroic figure. The literalizes the stereotypes of a brave male protecting a helpless and passive princess.
17. What is the importance of name: Dread Pirate Roberts?
The Dread Pirate Roberts is a name that has been passed down for generations of pirates. It is a name that makes people surrender even though the name does not specifically describe the person holding the name.
"Dread" is usually associated with the characteristics of a person however in this case, dread parodies the relationship between the person and the name.
18. What expectations that you had of the film were subverted/over thrown confounded?
The Princess Bride contained many different stereotypes of traditional fairy tale characters that were subverted into being very ironic untraditional characters. As an example, I expected that the three bad guys that kidnap Buttercup were going to be very evil and sinister beings. Yet, these characters were comic rather than evil and they added a humorous side to the kidnapping.
19. What is your reaction to the ending of the film?
The build up to the end of the film was full of action and left the audience wondering what exactly was going to happen. Numerous intertwined narratives and sub plots were introduced near the end of the film creating several moments of suspense.
I thought that the final ending to the film was like a fairy tale ending with a slight twist as it was not the ending that I initially thought would take place.
20. What form of parody do you think is being used in this film?
The Princess Bride parodies the genres of romance and adventure using exaggeration, comedy, cliche and extremity. The application of certain ideas to ridiculous subjects is also used throughout the films dialogue.
By using this parody a tension is created between the predictable and the unpredictable in a humorous fashion.