Australian Council on Children and the Media

Princess Bride, The

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Not suitable under 9; parental guidance to 13 (violence, scary scenes, mild themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Princess Bride, The
  • a review of Princess Bride, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 29 September 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 9 Not suitable due to violence, scary scenes and mild themes.
Children aged 9–12 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and mild themes.
Children over the age of 12 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Princess Bride, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes, violence, sexual references and coarse language
Length 98 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Originally released in 1987, The Princess Bride is based upon the 1973 novel of the same name by William Goldman. A young boy (Frank Savage) is sick and home from school. His grandfather (Peter Falk) has come to his bedside to keep him company and is reading aloud to him from a book. Initially, the boy is disgusted because he thinks the story is going to be all about kissing and romance, but gradually he is drawn deep into the tale and begs his grandfather to continue. The film flicks back and forth between this imaginary fairy-tale universe and the boy’s bedroom. The story is about a young woman called Buttercup (Robin Wright) and her true love, a handsome farm boy called Westley (Cary Elwes). When Westley is captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts and Buttercup is forced to become engaged to Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), all hope of reunion is lost. Before the royal wedding, three outlaws kidnap Buttercup and steal her away. They soon discover that they are being followed by a mysterious masked man. They try to outrun him using their skills of sword fighting, brute strength and superior intellect, but he manages to beat them all and capture the princess himself. Of course, Prince Humperdinck and his entourage are also in hot pursuit, determined to bring Buttercup back to be married. The masked man and Buttercup must outrun them all to save Buttercup from marrying a man who is not her one true love, despite many a perilous moment.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Fairy-tales; True love; Storytelling; Magic and supernatural; Adventure; Romance; Revenge.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is frequent violence in this movie including:

  • Several dramatic sword fights, one which leads to death. One which has some blood.
  • Two intense scenes of torture and electrocution with a man screaming in agony as he dies.
  • One man is bashed against boulders.
  • A man is poisoned.
  • The masked man violently kills a large rodent.
  • Buttercup is preparing a dagger to commit suicide.
  • The masked man threatens Buttercup with his fist saying that where he is from there are penalties when a woman lies.
  • A man is stabbed in the abdomen and is covered in blood.
  • The outlaws grab Buttercup off her horse and knock her unconscious.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Buttercup tries to escape by jumping off the boat into the sea. The sea is dark and there are giant eels swirling around in the water around her, coming up and screeching loudly and showing sharp teeth. She is terrified and has to get back onto the boat with her captors.
  • Characters scale the side of an extremely high and perilous cliff.
  • Buttercup and the masked man go into the fire-swamp, which is a scary, swampy forest where explosive fires erupt constantly out of the boiling mud. There is also quicksand and ferocious giant rodents that can attack and eat you. Small children will find this very scary – particularly when one of the rodents attacks and the masked man has to kill it. This is done violently and there is blood and gore.
  • The torture scene is particularly gruelling and the character who is doing the torture is very ugly and monstrous and scary looking. NOT for small children.
  • There are many strange-looking characters with quite gruesome or grotesque features.
  • A hag attacks Princess Buttercup when she is being presented to the crowd, screeching and pointing at her. It is an intense scene.
  • The giant man dresses up in a big cloak and uses a booming voice to try and scare the soldiers away from the castle door – they set fire to his cloak and he is wheeled forward so that he looks like a demonic apparition.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Children in this age group will still find most of the scenes detailed above quite scary. In particular: the torture scene; the fire-swamp and giant rodents; and the eels in the water.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Children in this age group may still be disturbed by the torture scene and younger children (or sensitive children) in this age group could still be scared by the fire-swamp and the eels.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • The masked man comments on Buttercup’s “perfect” breasts.
  • Several kissing scenes.
  • When knocking the giant man down with a boulder, the masked man says, “May you dream of large women”.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Adults drinking alcohol.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Son of a Bitch.
  • Damn.
  • Jesus.

In a nutshell

The Princess Bride is a classic fairy-tale adventure story with a great storyline for kids to enjoy but also a lot of wit, humour, and farce to entertain adults on a different level. Parents should be aware that there are a couple of scenes which are very scary for younger children (the eel attack, the fire-swamp rodents, and the torture scene) and could lead to some disturbed sleep! Even if you loved this film as a child, it is definitely worth waiting until your children are at least nine before enjoying this with them. It is also worth mentioning that, although easily disguised within the fairy-tale context, this film portrays women in an outdated, powerless and objectified manner. This could be worthy of a discussion.

The main messages from this movie are that true love will never die, that honour is everything and that vengeance can rule your life.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Bravery.
  • Loyalty.
  • The power of intellect and intelligence over brute strength.
  • The power of love.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Princess Buttercup doesn’t seem to have much control over what happens to her and keeps being passed from one person to another. Do you think this is how it would have been in past times? Do women and girls have more freedom now?
  • Inigo Montoya has spent his whole life seeking revenge and hunting down the man who killed his father. Do you think this is a good way to spend your life?

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