The Princess Bride (1987) undoubtably contains some of the most quotable lines of all time, from “Inconceivable!” to “As you wish”, but only one has spawned its own Facebook pages, DeviantArt tributes and even caused an airplane kerfuffle.
The first time Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) utters his famous lines “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die”, he has just asked the Man in Black (Cary Elwes) if he has six fingers on his right hand. When a normal gloved hand is held up in response, Inigo explains his 20-year pursuit of the man who murdered his father. Having spent most of his life preparing for the moment, Inigo describes how he will utter these words when he meets the Six Fingered Man and takes his revenge. When Inigo finally confronts Count Rogen (Christopher Guest) in the climax of the film he is almost bested by him, but it is the lines he’s dreamed of saying that revive him with every repetition, allowing him to overpower and finally, and oh so satisfyingly, kill the Count and get his longed-for revenge.
Inigo Montoya’s iconic lines have been referenced in everything from Hellboy and Sharknado to BEN10, How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory as well as The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and QI, to name just a few. His words have been emblazoned on t-shirts, coffee mugs and COVID-19 face masks, perhaps most iconically in the form of the “Hello. My Name is…” red nametag sticker which first emerged on Reddit in 2011. Heck, there’s even a meme that uses his lines to help the socially inept “be good at talking”.
In 2014, the New Yorker dubbed The Princess Bride ‘The Film That Won the Internet’ and that is even more true now. The film has spawned countless gifs and memes, movie theatre “quote-alongs” and even a Princess Bride quote-laden episode of NFL’s Kickoff. Early in 2020 a unique COVID-19 homage to the film was made for Quibi called Home Movie: Princess Bride, assembling a huge cast of beloved actors who filmed scenes at their homes to create a delightful lockdown version. Then later that year a table reading of the script with the original cast was held online to raise funds for the Wisconsin Democratic Party, irking Republican Ted Cruz, who is a well-known lover, and quoter, of the film. Ironically, Mandy Patinkin wrote an article for Time Magazine in 2015 criticising Ted Cruz for his politicisation of the film, especially given its message. Patinkin argues that the best line of the film is not Inigo’s vengeful creed but rather one he utters after fulfilling his 20-year mission: “You know, it’s very strange. I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it’s over, I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.”
So perhaps the secret to The Princess Bride’s continued success is that, just like the little boy listening to the story within the film, we are lured in by the promise of “fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles” but then, once we’re hooked, we are deftly shown that true love, in all its guises, is the most important thing of all. Whether you enjoy the kissing part or not is entirely up to you.
– Candice D’Arcy