Reel Infatuation Blogathon 2017 – Westley in “The Princess Bride”

When I discovered that this blogathon existed, I was extremely interested but also a little bewildered! I am a massive movie lover, and it was therefore very difficult to decide which character infatuation to write about. In the end, I finalized my choice based on bravery, intelligence, sportsmanship, wit, looks (yes, I am shallow), and romance. Farm Boy/Westley/Dread Pirate Roberts played by Cary Elwes in one of the most magical films of all-time, The Princess Bride, just has to be my favourite reel infatuation!

This medieval storybook tale begins with Westley as “Farm Boy”. He is the farm hand to the very bossy Buttercup (Robin Wright). Despite the seeming power imbalance, the two captivate one another. I find Westley’s naivety at this point quite endearing, but it is very evident that he has much growth and evolution in his future. He subsequently embarks on a journey from boyhood to manhood, and we witness the results in due course…

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Fast forward five years where Buttercup is now in the menacing arms of Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon). The supposed “Dread Pirate Roberts” interrupts the highly orchestrated kidnapping of Buttercup, encountering some of the most memorable characters in movie history. However, the viewers come to quickly realize that “Dread Pirate Roberts” is not the dread pirate at all, but is … Westley! An inconceivable battle of wits, swashbuckling, a journey through the aptly-named Fire Swamp, and a “to the pain!” declaration allow us to witness the evolution of Westley. His devotion for Buttercup though is one of his most attractive qualities, enduring multiple hardships and being nearly dead in his quest for love and justice. As we wish, he is the ultimate embodiment of swoon-worthiness and idealism in a partner in crime or life.

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I do not own the photos in this post. Also, this post is a part of the Reel Infatuation Blogathon hosted by A Small Press Life and Silver Screenings! Please take a look at other awesome posts this weekend related to movie, TV, and literary characters that make us blush!

Reel Infatuation 2017

 

Mulholland Drive (2001)

The presence of dreams on one’s life course can fluctuate but it is ever-present. The precise meaning of the word “dream” varies as well. Firstly, our ambitions/dreams create purpose and drive, focusing our attention towards actualizing achievement and hopeful fulfillment. In viewing and experiencing struggles and successes, we experience the unfolding reality of these aspirations. Furthermore, we think of the word in terms of neuronal firings and subsequent image displays of random events that have occurred in our reality while asleep. This combined with yearning daydreams can alter our own perception of the truth, dismissing actualities of our surrounding environment. “Mulholland Drive” is a 2001 psychological thriller directed by David Lynch delving into these fascinating concepts with the ultimate appropriate backdrop – Hollywood.

The tale begins with an impending kidnapping turned car accident on Mulholland Drive. Laura Elena Harring is the sole survivor, fearful for her safety and eventually hiding in a wealthy woman’s townhouse who is coincidentally and thankfully going on a vacation. Meanwhile, Betty Elms (Naomi Watts) is a starstruck, wide-eyed, and aspiring actress who comes to Los Angeles from Deep River, Ontario. The very fashionable landlord Coco (the legendary Ann Miller) guides Betty to her Aunt Ruth’s luxurious townhouse. Betty discovers a female unknown to her in the apartment, who happens to be the lady who escaped the automobile accident. She calls herself “Rita” after seeing a movie poster of Gilda in the bathroom, diving into an episode of amnesia. Betty initiates and becomes entangled in a quest to rediscover Rita’s true identity. Further interrelated subplots occur during the story as well. They include a quest to find the dark-haired lady, revelation of a frightening dream in a diner, and threats to control a well-known director’s vision for his upcoming film. These stories culminate in a mind-blowing finale, introducing many more questions than answers.

primary_mulholland-drive-criterion-2015David Lynch is a master of detailed ambiguity. The majority of his films and TV series are filled with hidden gems and facets that are imperative in untangling non-linear screenplays. The beauty of his narratives are that these items and other plot devices are often unclear, as well as the presence of an obscure division between reality and fantasy. We therefore bring our own experiences, values, and beliefs in interpreting his films and creating meaning unique to our lives.

I must also highlight the collaboration with Angelo Badalamenti. His musical contribution to the brilliant Twin Peaks invites us to speculate impending doom yet appreciate beautiful simplicity. In this film, he accomplishes the same feat via minor chords and synthesized sounds. Silence is also key in appreciating moments of intensity and characters’ emotions, and the lack of music in those scenes is essential in accurately conveying those expressions.

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Crucial events in this film begin and end on Mulholland Drive. It is in this location whereby false hopes, shattered dreams, and lost identities unfold. The film industry certainly has its glamour, but it is not without its struggles especially related to control. Many other industries can create a facade of prestige, attracting naive, hopeful youth into their dream factory. This milieu can lead an individual to be swallowed whole by figurative piranhas. Large portions of their individuality, belief system, and personal lives may be sacrificed to mould their new and more amenable selves to the profession which now presides over their every move. Some may unfortunately not have the option to voice their opinions due to potential volatile oppression in these settings. While sometimes extremely difficult, the importance of maintaining our truths and being vocal can help to ensure that our principles are upheld in the face of major power imbalances.

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I do not own the above photos in this post.

 

Ugetsu (1953)

The spirit world has been a source of polarizing contention throughout human history. The concepts of “spirits” and “ghosts” evoke multiple emotions, including fear, solace, apprehension, and peace. Certain drastic events in history may be associated with spirits, such as the Salem Witch Trials. Depending upon our beliefs, spirits’ presence and aura may serve to aid us in understanding and solidifying our own individual sense of self, as well as our connections with others and our surrounding environment. The Christmas classic It’s A Wonderful Life explores this idea, as well as the stunning 1953 Japanese medieval fantasy film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi named “Ugetsu Monogatari”.

The black-and-white film is set in the humble village of Nakanogo, where we follow the story of two couples. Miyagi (Kinuyo Tanaka) and Genjuro (Masayuki Mori) create and sell beautiful pottery, supporting themselves and their adorable young son, Genichi (Ikio Sawamura). Tobei (Sakae Ozawa) and Ohama (Mitsuko Mito) operate a farm, whereby Tobei has immeasurable dreams of becoming a samurai. Amidst their perceived tranquility, there is impending and inevitable chaos in their village created by the army of Shibata Katsuie. This consequentially leads to separation, displacement, and abandonment of responsibilities. Tobei becomes relentless on his quest to become that of an oxymoronic figure who damaged his home and relationship, while Genjuro encounters a beautiful, wealthy woman of seeming nobility in the form of Lady Wasaka (Machiko Kyo).

The English translation of the title is “Tales of Moonlight and Rain”, as the ancient East Asian tales from which the story is based revolves around natural elements forewarning humans of the uncontrollable spiritual forces. The film has a splendid mystical quality reflecting the original tales, supported by smooth transitioning between fantasy and reality and occasional hazy cinematography. Furthermore, fairy tales are often disguised cautionary tales to their readers about indulgence, patriarchy, dishonesty, greed, and inevitable destruction if we become highly swept into an imaginary world at the expense of others’ well-beings. This film effortlessly exemplifies and reinforces these themes, additionally resonating with audiences post-WWII in the aftermath of worldwide exploitation of power. “Ugetsu” is a pertinent reminder that our commitment to family, friends, and our communities is the glue which allows us to remain steadfast in the face of outside challenges which threaten our unique essence.

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I do not own the above image.