Battle of Wits

Princess Bride was the first unconventional fairytale, which was released years before Shrek, Hoodwinked, or Stardust. Princess Buttercup appears to be the epitome of the fairytale princess, which contrasts Wesley, who does not embody prince charming. As a child I enjoyed watching Princes Bride over and over because it was not predictable like the cliché medieval fantasies, and involved live action film and not animation. One of the reasons Princess Bride is so appealing is because of the theme of sharing and learning to love others.

The scene I would like to analyze is that of which Vizzini and the man in black, Wesley in disguise as the Dread Pirate Roberts, drink wine with poison in goblets. The Dread Pirate Roberts, has just defeated Fezzik, the giant man, and Inigo Montoya, the masterful swordsman. As Vizzini points out during the scene, the mysterious man in black passed the first two tests, strength and strategy. However he is now going to take part in the battle of wits.

At the beginning of the scene, Wesley runs up a hill with trees in the background, when Wesley stops walking as Vizzini threatens the Princess’s life, in the background we can see trees, sky, and also a wickedly twisted tree. The twisted tree could represent the evil or bad things Wesley has had to do in the past years since he left Buttercup on the farm, but now he is returning to her. The background behind Vizzini, on the left part of the screen are some dark green shrubbery, behind Buttercup is a brown hill with large stones. As we progress through the scene, Wesley is not as focused upon, and dominates the screen and takes up the majority of the space, in contrast Vizzini is focused upon and has many close-ups. When both Wesley and Vizzini are on screen together, an over the shoulder shot is used. The camera is looking in Wesley’s direction, and he is dominating the screen and makes Vizzini look small.

Vizzini is dressed as a commoner, in brown and green, a costume that does not attract the viewers attention. Buttercup wears a bright red dress, and attracts much of the attention when she is on screen. While Wesley is dressed all in black, and appears to be the Dread Pirate Roberts.

This scene is the final test Wesley must overcome, to save Buttercup from a band of thieves. He has proved he has strength, he has strategic intelligence, and now he is battling with wits. He must defeat one more man to call Buttercup his true love once more. Wesley says at the beginning of the movie, we have true love, do you think that comes around everyday? The theme of Princess Bride, is unconditional love, but also contains learning to love, fighting for that love, and sharing love with others. Wesley continues to battle for Buttercup’s love, and is unwilling to be defeated and lose her. He even battles to the death.

While studying this scene, I was challenged to limit what the theme was. The annoyance the young boy expresses with his mother toward his grandfather is similar to Buttercup ordering around Wesley. There is love between both sets of characters, however the love and appreciation is only going to strengthen over the course of the film.

During the first two tests of Wesley’s devotion to Buttercup, we are unsure of his motives. However, the last test seems ever poignant because he not only accepts the challenge, but embraces it. He pours the poison in each cup, putting himself in harms way. He has an immunity to the substance, but how much can he tolerate? The audience does not know. Wesley repeatedly undergoes challenges that test how far he will go for Buttercup. Each test, the obstacle of the giant, the swordplay fighting, and the battle of wits is different; but in each test he puts his most precious possession, his life, on the line for his true love, Buttercup. He would do anything and everything for her, because his love is undying and unconditional. Whenever she asks something of him, he simply answers, “As you wish.”

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