The Princess Bride
Common Knowledge and Rationality
In this fantastic movie, one scene highlights the humorous side of common knowledge. Perhaps more importantly, it highlights the notion of strategic moves that we will encounter. When the rules of the game are flexible, you can guarantee victory by manipulating the rules to your advantage!
The Man in Black (the good guy) challenges Vizzini (bad) to a battle of wits. The battle consists of the good guy poisoning one of two glasses, and having his foe select which one to drink.
Download and view the scene (mpg format)
The script (including pre-cursors)Vizzini: So, it is down to you, and it is down to me...if you wish her dead, by all means keep moving forward.
Man in black: Let me explain...
Vizzini: There's nothing to explain. You're trying to kidnap what I have rightfully stolen.
Man in black: Perhaps an arrangement can be reached?
Vizzini: There will be no arrangements...and you're killing her.
Man in black: But if there can be no arrangement, then we are at an impasse.
Vizzini: I'm afraid so. I can't compete with you physically, and you're no match for my brains.
Man in black: You're that smart?
Vizzini: Let me put it this way: Have you ever heard or Plato, Aristotle, Socrates?
Man in black: Yes.
Man in black: Really! In that case, I challenge you to a battle of wits.
Vizzini: For the princess? To the death? I accept!
Man in black: Good, then pour the wine. [Vizzini pours the wine] Inhale this but do not touch.
Vizzini: [taking a vial from the Man in black] I smell nothing.
Man in black: What you do not smell is Iocaine powder. It is odorless, tasteless, and dissolves instantly in liquid and is among the more deadly poisons known to man.
Vizzini: [shrugs with laughter] Hmmm.
Man in black: [turning his back, and adding the poison to one of the goblets] Alright, where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink - and find out who is right, and who is dead.
Vizzini: But it's so simple. All I have to do is divine it from what I know of you. Are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemies? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you...But you must have known I was not a great fool; you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
Man in black: You've made your decision then?
Vizzini: [happily] Not remotely! Because Iocaine comes from Australia. As everyone knows, Australia is entirely peopled with criminals. And criminals are used to having people not trust them, as you are not trusted by me. So, I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.
Man in black: Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.
Vizzini: Wait 'till I get going!! ...where was I?
Man in black: Australia.
Vizzini: Yes! Australia! And you must have suspected I would have known the powder's origin,so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
Man in black: You're just stalling now.
Vizzini: You'd like to think that, wouldn't you! You've beaten my giant, which means you're exceptionally strong...so you could have put the poison in your own goblet trusting on your strength to save you, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But, you've also bested my Spaniard, which means you must have studied...and in studying you must have learned that Man is mortal so you would have put the poison as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me!
Man in black: You're trying to trick me into giving away something. It won't work.
Vizzini: It has worked! You've given everything away! I know where the poison is!
Man in black: Then make your choice.
Vizzini: I will, and I choose...[pointing behind the Man in black] What in the world can that be?
Man in black: [turning around, while Vizzini switches goblets] What?! Where?! I don't see anything.
Vizzini: Oh, well, I...I could have sworn I saw something. No matter. [Vizzini laughs]
Man in black: What's so funny?
Vizzini: I...I'll tell you in a minute. First, lets drink, me from my glass and you from yours. [They both drink]
Man in black: You guessed wrong.
Vizzini: You only think I guessed wrong! That's what's so funny! I switched glasses when your back was turned! Ha ha, you fool!! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia; and only slightly less well known is this: Never go in against a Sicilian, when death is on the line!
[Vizzini continues to laugh hysterically. Suddenly, he stops and falls right over. The Man in black removes the blindfold from the princess]
Buttercup: Who are you?
Man in black: I'm no one to be trifled with. That is all you'll ever need know.
Buttercup: And to think, all that time it was your cup that was poisoned.
Man in black: They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up immunity to Iocaine powder.
© Warner Brothers 1987. All rights reserved