This product was provided by Criterion for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own.
Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride is an undisputed classic piece of modern filmmaking, a title that stands the test of time and remains as relevant, heartfelt and wonderful as the day it was released in 1987. Now, the film is back on the Criterion Collection with a new Blu-ray edition that marks the best version to own.
Adapted by William Goldman from his 1973 novel, The Princess Bride begins with a grandfather (Peter Falk) visiting his sick grandson (Fred Savage) and bestowing upon him a book that was handed down through their family for generations. The book tells the story of Westley and Buttercup, two star-crossed lovers in a fantasy world of giants, deadly creatures, swashbucklers and six-fingered men.
Endlessly quotable and revered by young and old, The Princess Bride is one of those films that nearly everyone has seen, and most have fallen in love with. Novelist and screenwriter William Goldman had many of his works adapted into films, but he famously only recognized two of them as being true to his vision: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Princess Bride.
It’s a film that has become ubiquitous over the years, making it easily accessible through its multiple home releases and frequent TV airings, but the new Criterion Collection Blu-ray release is currently the best way to watch, with its new, 4K digital restoration and 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. It looks gorgeous and sounds spectacular, making it an absolute joy to revisit this film, which I haven’t seen for several years. I caught the final half on TV, which was edited for content and chock full of commercials.
Many of the supplements are carryovers from previous editions of the film, mostly the Criterion Laserdisc version and the 25th Anniversary edition. Fans who own these versions may find this edition to be a bit lacking in new content, but combining these features into one package helps make this the most complete version of the film released thus far, and Criterion did manage to produce some new things for the disc as well, including a new program about Goldman’s screenplay and a tapestry that Goldman had commissioned honoring the film.
The audio commentary track was recorded in 1996 and features Rob Reiner, William Goldman, producer Andrew Scheinman, Billy Crystal and Peter Falk. It would have been nice to have a new commentary track with Reiner, Cary Elwes and Robin Wright, but there is a nice interview with the three of them that was recorded in 2012 for the 25th anniversary of the film. Also included is excerpts from the audiobook, read by Rob Reiner, which can be enabled over the film, another feature that was previously available but is a really cool addition nonetheless.
There’s also a slew of behind-the-scenes footage, making-of featurettes, video diaries and trailers, packing in a metric ton of content for fans to enjoy. One of the best features, however, is what Criterion decided to do with the packaging, eschewing the standard Blu-ray case and opting for a hardcover book, featuring 36 pages of essays and full-color art.
Despite having not a lot of new content, the fact that Criterion includes basically everything from all the other releases, including the now-rare Laserdisc, the new restoration and the wonderful packaging, makes this an easy recommend to anyone who grew up watching this magical, life-affirming film that will consistently make everyone’s day a little better.