14 Days of Love

“As You Wish”: True Love and Longing in The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride has always been one of the most fun films ever made, it is endlessly quotable and rewatchable. It’s enjoyable for all ages and each time you revisit it, it’s like meeting up with an old group of atypical and oddball friends. It harkens you back to your childhood when you let your imagination run wild as you fantasized about epic stories with sword fights, pirates, fire pits, and Rodents of Unusual Size. Yet, despite all the vengeance enacted, forest hazards escaped, and duels won, The Princess Bride, at its heart, remains a story of longing and the will to do anything to win back your one true love. That’s why it has always been endearing to me. It never fails to grab ahold of me, pulling me into the expansive and thrilling story of Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright) and her Wesley (Cary Elwes).

princess brideOne of the most famous lines uttered throughout the film is, “As you wish,” which is often spoken by Wesley when Princess Buttercup needs any task or chore to be completed. Yet, as explained by the Grandfather (Peter Falk), whenever Wesley spoke those words he meant, “I love you.” I have always found that phrase encapsulates the essence of the film. I’ve always been entranced by Wesley’s willingness to do everything, no matter how simple, menial, or time-consuming it might prove to be. He journeyed from the ends of the earth, faced death, and stormed a castle to join his true love again. This compares to Buttercup’s depression and vow to never love again after Wesley’s disappearance. Whenever someone speaks of true love, there is a constant theme of wanting to keep the other safe and doing whatever it takes to protect them and to be faithful. Both Wesley and Buttercup embody that. However, I also realized that this story is just a representation of love, as there are numerous twists, turns, obstacles and it is slightly confusing and maddening. No one can predict the duels, fights with giants, battles of wits, and the castles you’ll storm yet through perseverance, grit, and a little bit of creativity you can work through any challenge and be reunited with your one true love.

One can wax poetic about the meaning of love and how it is represented in the film, but I think it is best represented by the tender moments shared between Wesley and Buttercup on screen. It is evident throughout the film but especially in the beginning, the ending scene, and when Wesley and Buttercup are reunited in the middle. The chemistry between the two leads is palpable and is clear from the first moment they’re on screen together. When Buttercup asks Wesley to do something, the tension of the unspoken love between the two is profound and dense, especially when they were standing face-to-face right before they professed their undying love for each other. Their kiss in the sunset is the ultimate symbol to represent their true love for each other. Yet, towards the middle of the film whenever they’re reunited outside the fire swamp is full of tenderness and reprieve from all the longing and lonely nights spent apart. The way Wesley cradles Buttercup and the affectionate hug has always been a moment that stood out to me because it accentuates the love between the two characters and reinforces the themes of longing and true love. 

Yet the ending has the finest moment of true love in the film. When Wesley and Buttercup are finally able to be together forever, the kiss is perfectly summed up by the Grandfather when he said, “Since the invention of the kiss there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.” It perfectly wraps the greatest romantic, fantasy, adventure story. It flawlessly represents love in that it can be a long arduous process but when fought for, it can be the most beautiful, passionate thing and fill you with the most joyful feelings. That is why The Princess Bride has always been of my favorite and most endearing films. It provides exciting, swashbuckling action and adventure but remains, ostensibly, a story of true love and doing whatever it takes to keep it.

Dalton first fell in love with film as an eighth grader, when he watched Citizen Kane for a class. After that, Dalton went head first into the world of cinema by watching as many films and reading as many books on film as possible. Now a student at Purdue University, Dalton hopes to transform his love of film into a career one day. Dalton’s favorite director of all time is Stanley Kubrick; however, his favorite contemporary directors include Terrence Malick, Richard Linklater, and Paul Thomas Anderson.

1 comment on ““As You Wish”: True Love and Longing in The Princess Bride

  1. Beautifully written and wholeheartedly agree. The romanticism of the film is definitely ignored by most, but it’s always been a huge reason why I love the film so much. Of course they are two more exchanges between the pair that speak volumes:

    “Westley: Hear this now: I will always come for you.
    Buttercup: But how can you be sure?
    Westley: This is true love-you think this happens every day?”

    “Westley: I told you I would always come for you. Why didn’t you wait for me?
    Buttercup: Well…you were dead.
    Westley: Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.
    Buttercup: I will never doubt again.
    Westley: There will never be a need.”


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