FCC 07: Christian Themes in “The Princess Bride”

Join us as we cross the eel-infested waters to the land of Florin and seek out Christian themes in the 1987 blockbuster hit The Princess Bride.

I like Fezzik’s transformation into a slave to righteousness.

One of my favorite characters in The Princess Bride is Fezzik. It tickles me not only because he’s portrayed by Andre the Giant – and believe me: that’s reason enough for anyone to love him. But I like him most because of his transformation from a slave to sin to a slave to righteousness.

When we first meet Fezzik, he is a goon working for Vizzini. He is expected to be just as cruel and mean as his boss, but he knows better. Still, he is a slave to Vizzini if anything because he is scared of him.

This changes throughout the course of the film, as Fezzik ends up serving Westley and Inigo not out of fear but out of love. Thus, he becomes a “slave” to righteousness.

"I won't let it go to my head!"

“I won’t let it go to my head!”

This reminds me of Paul’s words to the Romans. The full passage is Romans 6:15-23, but I’ll just emphasize verses 17 and 18:

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Just as Fezzik went from serving a murderous schemer to helping the cause of true love, so do we have the chance to stop being a slave to sin and become a slave to righteousness.

John reminds us of the story within a story.

Our guest John Carney (you know, from FCC 04: Finding Christ in The Wizard of Oz Part II) brings two points to the table this time.

If you’ll recall, the narrative of Westley, Buttercup, and the whole lot is actually being told by the grandfather to the boy (and to us). This “storytelling” serves as a framing device – which thus becomes a story within a story.

"Okay...no kissing."

“Okay…no kissing.”

Most wouldn’t call the grandfather/boy narrative a “story,” though. But it technically is a story because the characters involved are different in the end than they were in the beginning. At the start of the film, the grandfather and the boy aren’t that familiar with each other. But the two grow closer as the former reads to the latter.

Such is an example of how stories bring people together.

Don’t forget about the ROUS’s.

As our heroes are trudging through the Fire Swamp, Buttercup warns Westley about the ROUS’s. Westley’s response: “I don’t think they exist.” Of course, just as he says it, an ROUS jumps out of some bushes and attacks him.

FCC - The Princess Bride ROUS

Just a reminder that we are most susceptible to evil when we begin to doubt its existence.

And Michael’s got nothin’ but love…true love.

The love Westley and Buttercup is an epic one. They meet when he is a servant, and from that moment, they’ve loved each other. Even when Westley is presumed dead and Buttercup “moves on” to Prince Humperdinck, she still longs for her farm boy (cheese with your cheese, anyone?).

Initially, Michael compares this love to the Song of Solomon – you know, the love book (not just a chapter). This entire book is a love poem. Here’s an example:

For love is as strong as death,
its jealousy (passion) as enduring as the grave.
Love flashes like fire,
the brightest kind of flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
nor can rivers drown it.
If a man tried to buy love
with all his wealth,
his offer would be utterly scorned. (verses 6 and 7)

Doesn’t this sound an awful lot like Westley and Buttercup’s dialogue after he has revealed that he is the Man in Black / Dread Pirate Roberts?

  • WESTLEY: Why didn’t you wait for me?
  • BUTTERCUP: You were dead!
  • WESTLEY: Death cannot stop true love.
  • BUTTERCUP: I’ll never doubt again.
  • WESTLEY: There will never be a need.

FCC - The Princess Bride True Love

Ultimately, this love is like Christ’s love for the church. Paul explains this love in his letters to the Ephesians:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27)

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Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes, including links to articles discussed, by clicking here.

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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is a graduate student pursuing his Master in Theatre Arts degree with Regent University. He is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. You can find him live-tweeting his favorite movies on Twitter @LeviTheBeliever or posting poetry and unsolicited opinions at thebookofbrenden.com
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