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The greatest life lessons from The Princess Bride

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This week The Princess Bride celebrated 30 years since it made its debut on the big screen. We know, it’s inconceivable.

We’ve had three decades of reciting the movie’s most memorable lines, such as, “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”


Read more: Four female writers assess the feminist credentials of classic Disney princess films


William Goldman originally wrote the book (yes, a book came first) after asking his daughters what they’d like to hear a bedtime story about. One said a princess; the other a bride. Hence the title.

Rewritten for the screen, Rob Reiner (of Stand By Me, When Harry Met Sally) took the film on and a classic was born.

Hello, Westly and Buttercup – and a rodent of unusual size.

But between all of the fun and frivolity of the fairy tale there are a lot of lessons to be learnt.

Here we delve into the life advice mined from The Princess Bride and present you with six lessons that remain as relevant now as they did in 1987.

1. Listen to your elders

The tale is told by a grandfather as he reads his grandson a bedtime story (neither have traditional character names). Of course, like most children, he just wants to watch TV. But as we soon learn grandparents are everything. Cherish their tales will you can – especially their bedtime stories.

The Princess Bride

Cherish your grandparents' tales will you can – especially their bedtime stories.

2. Women are not damsels

Buttercup, played by Robin Wright, may have been portrayed as the ‘damsel in distress’, but she’s not; she has her own farm and she’s not out to find love. Instead, she truly falls in love with Westly in her own time. And the whole ‘she needs saving’ storyline is frankly hilarious, and that’s why we love it so.

The Princess Bride

Buttercup, played by Robin Wright, may have been portrayed as the ‘damsel in distress’ but she’s not.

3. Not everyone says what they mean

Every time Westly says “as you wish” to Buttercup – which is a hell of lot as she instructs and directs him throughout the film – what he really meant was “you’re an independent woman, and I respect that”. Yeah, you’re goddamn right “as we wish”.

The Princess Bride

Westly consistently replies to Buttercup saying: "As you wish".

4. Life really is unfair

Life is grossly unfair, but it’s important to acknowledge it and keep pushing on – as Westly tries to teach Buttercup the whole way through. As Westly so eloquently put it: “Life is pain, your highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

The Princess Bride

Buttercup learns the life is full of pain and that's okay.

5.  You should always find fun in everything you do

The Miracle Max scene. Played by Billy Crystal, this scene from start to finish pokes fun at miracles, life and death in the best way.


Read more: The 25 most powerful book quotes of all time


But throughout the story there is fun to be had in between all of the near-deaths and sword fights.

6. True love will always prevail

The entire story is about love. Whether it’s the traditional love story of Westly and Buttercup, or the characters of Westley, Inigo, and Fezzik coming together to make the world a better place as they invade the castle of Prince Humperdinck to rescue Buttercup, or the love between generations as illustrated through the story of a grandpa and his grandson. And as Westly so wisely put it: “Death cannot stop true love. It can only delay it.”

The Princess Bride

The entire story is based around love.

Anybody want a peanut?

Images: Twentieth Century Fox / Rex Features

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