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Entertainment Weekly

Movies

The Princess Bride30 timeless morals from the greatest fairy tale movie

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Behold, fair maidens, gallant princes, and all other gentlefolk! The time has come for the 30th anniversary of this classic comedy-adventure-romance. The Princess Bride, released in September 1987, became one of the top 10 PG-rated films of that year and was smiled upon by critics and moviegoers alike. Since then, the movie has reached full cult-classic status as one fairy tale fans love to watch over and over and over again.

Thirty years later, The Princess Bride has been lauded for its morals (and even inspired a book about the Buddhist concepts that are found within). Here is a collection of wise little life lessons we’ve learned, thanks to Princess Buttercup, Westley, and their many friends and enemies.

1. “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.”

2. Good things happen to those who wait (no matter how long it takes).

Perhaps the most famous line from this film (chock full of famous lines) is, “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, now prepare to die.” It’s the oft-repeated adage of Mandy Patinkin’s swashbuckling swordsman who is hellbent on one thing only: avenging his father’s death. When he finally achieves this… boy oh boy, how sweet it is. To say it took patience on behalf of Montoya is an inconceivable understatement.

3. Have faith in the people you love*.

*Specifically when you’re trapped by some a-hole prince, waiting to be rescued.

4. Grandfathers are special!

You should spend time with them and trust them, even if the story they want to read you sounds lame (at first).

5. If you’ve been striving toward a goal all your life and you finally achieve it, you need to find a new goal.

Of course, after Montoya achieves his long-held goal mentioned in item #2 above (held for 20 years, to be exact), he realizes he must find something new to live for. Therein lies a lesson for us all: to not have tunnel vision around only one thing. Bigger picture, folks!

6. Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!

The moral of this part of the fairy tale is, if you’re gonna go out, go out with a bang (or at least a bout of memorable, maniacal laughter).

7. When faced with the choice of being devoured by flesh-eating eels or being kidnapped by Wallace Shawn and Mandy Patinkin, choose the latter.

 
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8. Rhymes hold great charm!

9. You should always have fun, even when you’re storming the castle.

10. People don’t always directly say what they mean.

“As you wish” doesn’t immediately make one think of the words, “I love you,” but in the case of subservient Westley, that’s exactly what he means. Oh, Westley/Cary Elwes, you had us at “as”!

11. Wallace Shawn is a national treasure.

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In case you’re on the fence, please watch any of the Toy Story movies in which Shawn voices put-upon dinosaur Rex, or re-screen Gossip Girl, where he plays Blair’s lovable stepdad Cyrus.

12. And so is Billy Crystal.

As if anyone needed any proof, the presence of this actor in Princess Bride elevated it to a comedy for the ages, and he didn’t even do any major slapstick!

13. Never trust a man with six fingers on his right hand.

You better run, Christopher Guest — another comedic genius (This is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show) who makes these proceedings truly, laugh-out-loud memorable.

14. However, people in masks can sometimes, in fact, be trusted.

Cary Elwes: the only actor to look just as smoldering/sexy with a mask on, as off.

15. The way to successfully woo a woman is to answer all of her demands, however unreasonable, with “As you wish…”

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This holds true if the phrase actually means “I love you” (see item #10 above), and more importantly, as long as you actually do as she wishes.

16. If you’re going to help a man up a mountain in order to kill him, do the decent thing and give him a moment to get his bearings once he gets to the top.

17. If you’re under the weather, playing 8-bit video games is always the best way to get better.

This movie came out one year after Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, so we’re convinced Fred Savage’s character was just playing hooky.

18. You rush a miracle, you mainly get rotten miracles.

19. The best way to break up with someone: push them down a mighty steep hill*.

*But, if you plan on getting back together, best to push the stunt double instead.

20. Rather than try to keep track of where the poison is, safer to become immune in the first place.

“Where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun! It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right… and who is dead.”

21. Mostly dead is still slightly alive.

“I’ve seen worse.”

22. The only thing greater than true love is a nice MLT*.

*That’s a delicious mutton lettuce and tomato sandwich, “when the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato’s ripe…”

23. It pays to be ambidextrous, especially in a fencing duel.

24. Who said life is fair? And no more interruptions!

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25. The importance, and proper pronunciation, of the words ‘inconceivable’…

26. …and ‘marriage.’

27. “Life is pain, your highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

Sometimes, the truth hurts. Even in a fairy tale.

28. “With ‘all dead’ there’s usually only one thing you can do: Go through his clothes and look for loose change.”

29. Beware of any R.O.U.S’s!

The giant rat in Princess Bride looked so yucky and even a little menacing… mainly because in 1987, CGI wasn’t really a thing so they actually had to create a “real” Rodent Of Unusual Size.

30. Taking a nap is almost never a bad idea.

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