“My mind said, Mandy, if you get that part, and you play that guy, and you get that six-fingered man, and you get him, that’s cancer, and if you get him, your dad will come back.” —Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya) [x]
On deck for quite a long time now is a color pie article
about the characters from The Princess
Bride. The film’s wit, action, humor, and drama has cemented it as a staple
family film for decades. It goes without saying that today’s article will
contain plenty of spoilers, so stop now if you haven’t seen the film and don’t
want the burden of knowledge.
And if you have seen The
Princess Bride, you probably don’t need me to introduce much up here. And
you probably just want to read the talky-color-pie parts. And you probably want to skip all the kissing.
As you wish, reader.
Westly is a humble farm boy who is deeply in love with
the woman he works for, Buttercup. His devotion and loyalty make him the
perfect servant, a fact that Buttercup gets frustrated with until she realizes
his motives. They smooch and it’s all happy. Westley leaves to get enough money
to marry Buttercup, because his life is all about her. This is some hardcore
Red stuff right here.
Westley’s Red devotion to Buttercup is the driving force
of the film. He ventures back from near death (twice!) to rescue her from a
false marriage. Everything he does in the film is to end up living happily ever
after with his one true love.
But that isn’t the totality of Westley’s character. His
motives are certainly Red, but what about the means? This is where his Blue
You see, Westley is a master of deception. He takes on
the persona of the Dread Pirate Roberts for years in order to return home, even
maintaining that disguise in front of Buttercup until she pushes him down a
hill. He outwits Vizzini, a noted smartypants, and creates a plan of disguise
to storm Humperdinck’s castle. Even when his body is broken he feigns strength
to intimidate Humperdinck himself. Westley is clever in the way that only Blue
is, solidifying him as a Blue/Red protagonist.
Despite being the titular character of the film,
Buttercup doesn’t actually do a whole lot. She loves Westley a bit before
getting mopey upon hearing about his death (He’s not really dead.) Then she
gets kidnapped, rescued, kidnapped again, and locked away in a castle to be wed
to Prince Humperdinck. In that time she basically can’t stop talking about her
love for Westley. She has her doubts, but is ultimately prepared to take her
own life rather than marry another man.
Seem overly dramatic?
Yeah, Buttercup is mono-Red. Whether she’s peachy in love
or wallowing in despair, she is a woman who wears her emotions on her sleeves,
belt, shoes, and has a whole set of emotion-laden eveningwear in her closet.
Prince Humperdinck is the main antagonist of the story
and a classic jerkface. Let’s make a list of all the terrible things he does in
Kidnaps Buttercup in order to force her to marry him.
Plans to get his fiancé killed, blame it on another
kingdom, and use the event to justify a war.
Has megalomaniacal aspirations to rule the world.
Kidnaps Buttercup in order to force her to marry him
Turns Westley over to a torture enthusiast.
Renders Westley mostly dead on a torture machine.
Still plans to kill his fiancé just so he can be king and
boot his dad out of power.
You don’t need to know a whole lot about the color pie to
recognize Humperdinck as a Black villain. The story isn’t even transparent
about it (It doesn’t have to be. Part of the fun of The Princess Bride is how on-the-nose it gets with fantasy and
romance tropes.) So boom, the evil Prince Humperdinck fulfils his destiny as a
mono-Black evil doer.
Inigo is out for revenge.
But not the “you hit me now I hit you back” kind of
revenge. That’s more Black. Rather, Inigo is engaging in the, “I want my father
back, you son of a bitch,” kind of revenge. That’s more Red.
We don’t learn a whole lot about Inigo during the story,
just that he loved his father very much and has taken up the blade to avenge his
death. He may be acting as a hired sword for now, but Inigo is always moving
forward in his plan. Every job has him questioning new people about the
mysterious six-fingered man that killed his father.
Equally Red is Inigo’s empathy for Westley. Despite their
duel, Inigo wishes the lover well in his search for his true love. They become
allies as the story progresses, and he becomes quite moved by Westley’s
dedication to Buttercup.
Loving revenge and empathy? Inigo Montoya is a certified
When we first meet Fezzik, he faces off against Westley
in a match of brute strength. Fezzik is shown to be a strong brute, but he is
ultimately outwitted and defeated by the much smaller man. This already nudges
Fezzik towards being a Green character, but that hypothesis is confirmed as we
Despite this first meeting Fezzik is largely a gentle
giant. His natural size and strength make him a good fighter, but otherwise he’s
calm, honest, and generally wants to see people be happy. He keeps the good-guy
team together when in dire straits. These are all traits befitting a Green
character, and I think Fezzik is a great example of how well the color pie was
aligned to existing ideas about characters and their motivations.
The final member of the motley crew of mercenaries is the
astounding Vizzini. Where Inigo brandishes steel and Fezzik flexes flesh, Vizzini’s
realm is the mind. Short, round, and bald, this is not an imposing man.
In order to defeat Vizzini, Westley must face him in a
challenge of wits. Whoever drinks the poison chalice will die and lose. Which
chalice could the poison be in? Vizzini will surely defeat puny Westley in this
Vizzini’s small stature and logical puzzles make him a
fairly straightforward Blue character.
Count Tyrone Rugen,
the Six-Fingered Man
Finally, there is Count Tyrone Rugen, and I bet most of
you didn’t even know he had a name. He’s mostly referred to as “the
six-fingered man,” as we hear Inago talk about him often.
So Rugen killed Inigo’s pop. We don’t know why, but we
can infer that it’s because the Count is a downright horrible person. The guy
has a torture chamber called the Pit of Despair where he’s built a machine that
sucks the life out of someone. Yikes.
What colors does this fall under though? His sadistic
streak points to Black or Red, but I think it’s a little bit of both. Rugen
clearly enjoys his painful pursuits and is generally excited to experiment on
Westley. Ty also expresses a great deal of power as Humperdinck’s right-hand
man, which is more Black.
Underneath it all, however, he is quite methodical. He
takes detailed notes of his victims’ reactions, carefully ramping up The
Machine little by little. In a way he’s sort of a scientist, albeit a terribly
I think each of these idiosyncrasies meld together to
make the six-fingered man a Grixis character who revels in the systematic
torture of others.
Andrew, Maybe You
Could Come Over and Write More to Me Tomorrow
No. Thursday’s my day off, Fred Savage. Go back to bed.
I don’t think it’s very surprising that the bad guys in a
fantasy story skew Black and the lovey-dovey heroes are Red. Like I said
earlier, The Princess Bride likes to
be cheekily on-the-nose about things, so this is kind of an easy film to read
with regards to the color pie. But I hope that didn’t stop you folks from
enjoying this article.
Until next time, planeswalkers, may your homes stay free
Prince Humperdinck: [sincerely] Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I’m swamped.
Count Rugen: Get some rest. If you haven’t got your health, then you haven’t got anything.
This honestly cracks me up so much. Sometimes (like now) when I’m feeling overwhelmed with life, I just mutter to myself, I’ve got my health. Or start listing off the things I have to do and toss in ‘and Guilder to frame for it; I’m swamped.’
Oh Princess Bride. You have a quote for everything