The Princess Bride (1987)

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Composed by: Mark Knopfler

The Princess Bride is one of those films that everyone loves. Thus it may surprise many to learn it did not do so hot at the box office. It was difficult to market. Was it a comedy, a children’s fantasy, a romantic adventure, or what? (William Goldman’s original novel was borderline satirical, yet Goldman also wrote it to entertain his daughters) The general gist of the plot is that the “most beautiful woman in the world” Buttercup loses her lover Wesley, but learns he is alive. They have to rediscover their love and protect it from a scheming Prince. It is an amazing, highly quotable film that strides along so many genres with success. Helping is one of the most perfectly cast assemblage of characters, special shout-out going to Andre the Giant as lovable Fezzik. Also praised is the music by Mark Knopfler. Knopfler gives the film a more romantic and probably intentionally cheesy fairy tale atmosphere. Rather than a bringing out an orchestra, he uses a synthesizer and guitar.

The music works wonderfully in the film, but is not quite as strong on album. The synthesizers do not work well in many of the action and suspense cues. The scoring for the sword fights in particular is actually a bit grating, with random synthesizer beats accompanying each stroke of a character’s blade. Cues like “The Cliffs of Insanity” are just dull. The real strength comes from the more thematic cues. Knopfler provides four usually relaxing themes. The main love theme is derived from the song “Storybook Love” which closes the album. It’s a peaceful pleasant piece on guitar and is fairly popular for weddings. Also on guitar is a secondary, more tragic love theme that is most noticeable in “I Will Never Love Again”. “The Friends’ Song” presents a light-hearted piece for Andre the Giant’s Fezzik and Inigo Montoya, the Spanish swordsman on a lifelong quest for revenge. Montoya gets his own noble theme, showcased in “Guide My Sword”. Knopfler inserts this theme into the action in “Revenge”, but it is unfortunately surrounded by discordant mickey-mousing notes.

I have surprisingly little to say for such a highly regarded collection of music. The general gist is that a lot of it is quite lovely but it’s broken up by underwhelming or grating action and suspense cues that work better when backing up the witty dialogue and moments of the film’s characters. The positives do outweigh the negatives and fans of the movie will definitely enjoy it. It is a nice brisk forty minute listen.

Rating: 7/10 (mainly for the romance and thematic cues)

  1. Once Upon a Time…Storybook Love (4:00)
  2. I Will Never Love Again (3:04)
  3. Florin Dance (1:32)
  4. Morning Ride (1:36)
  5. The Friends’ Song (3:02)
  6. The Cliffs of Insanity (3:18)
  7. The Sword Fight (2:43)
  8. Guide My Sword (5:11)
  9. The Fire Swamp and the Rodents of Unusual Size (4:47)
  10. Revenge (3:51)
  11. A Happy Ending (1:52)
  12. Storybook Love (performed by Willy DeVille) (4:24)

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