A well made film that features great performances by Sophia Myles and Rufus Sewell.
I wish they would have built up the formation of Tristan and Isolde's relationship a bit more.
I didn't see Tristan + Isolde in the theater because quite frankly, I don't particularly care for these large epic films set in and around ancient Rome. I just find that in a movie theater everything is so loud that the movie just washes over me, rendering my body numb and tired by the end of it. So I passed on this film only to get caught up with it on DVD and guess what? It turns that this is actually a really well done movie. I mean aside from James Franco's character always looking like he's on the verge of crying (I really like him as an actor but his understated, thoughtful approach seems wrong here), I found this to be a tightly constructed film that wasn't filled with bigness just because they had the production wherewithal to do that.
The story has been told many times before. Tristan (Franco) and Isolde (the stunning Sophia Myles) are two royal characters who meet by fate when Tristan is declared dead and cast off to sea. When he "wins" her for Marke (an inspired Rufus Sewell), a warlord and Tristan's surrogate father, a game of cat and mouse ensues as Tristan and Isolde decide it's better to live in a lie and sneak around than not be together at all. Eventually, certain people try and use Tristan and Isolde's tryst for their own political gain and that is where the climax of this film lies.
What impressed me the most was how easily I was able to follow the story of Tristan + Isolde. Usually, I find these period pieces, where everyone wears lots of hair and constrictive clothing, to be just dreadful in the character recognition department. This was never a problem with Tristan + Isolde.
Love Conquers All
This is a "making of" that examines the various aspects of this movie's production. From how hard it was to actually shoot the movie in Ireland, to how Ridley Scott wanted to make a film version of Tristan + Isolde years ago, but a movie called Star Wars came along so he made his own sci-fi film called Alien.
Broken up between "Behind the Scenes," "Production Design" and "Costume Design" photos, these images give us a silent breakdown of the various departments involved in bringing an epic film to life. While nothing too special happens in any of these pictures, they are certainly worth a look to give viewers more perspective on the film.
Gavin DeGraw Music Videos
There are two versions of Gavin DeGraw's song "We Belong Together" which thankfully wasn't in the movie that I recall. In fact, when I heard that he had done a song for the film, I purposely stayed away because nothing gets me out of a film more than hearing modern music in a movie taking place during the time period of Tristan + Isolde. All these videos essentially are is a mix of footage from the film with DeGraw walking around badly lip synching the song.
Two commentary tracks are available on this DVD. One can be listened to with Executive Producer Jim Lemley and Co-Producer Anne Lai. There is another one with the film's writer, Dean Georgaris. I chose to listen to the one with the writer just because I felt that would be more interesting and pertain more to me. Aside from Georgaris seeming like a very personable guy, I love his honesty, especially when he explains how certain scenes he imagined when he wrote the script, ended up not having that same feel when he watched the scenes in the movie. Really top notch stuff here.
Widescreen Anamorphic - 1.85:1. I am not sure if it was the DVD that Fox sent over but this film looked a little more pixilated (especially in the backgrounds) than I thought it would. Aside from that, I think this film gets the tone of the material perfectly and thankfully there were very few moments of overt camera tricks. Sure you have the slow motion swordplay in the battle scenes, or slow shots of horses legs riding up but overall this film played things pretty close to normal.
Dolby Digital - English 5.1 DTS - 5.1 Dolby Surround - Spanish and French Dolby Surround - Subtitled in English and Spanish. Close Captioned. My biggest problems with films of this nature are that many of the characters speak with accents and then they compound that by talking in veritable whispers. Accents I don't mind, whispers I mind (but I can deal with) but I can't deal with the two of them together.
The front cover features a shot of Franco and Myles with a battle scene happening underneath them. It is strange how much Myles resembles pop singer Jewel. The back features small shots from the film (all of which make it seem more action oriented than it really is), there is a description of the movie, a Special Features listing, cast list and some technical specs. I wish the front cover would have been a bit more "regal" and "hard" looking but I guess they wanted to show that this film had a more personal side.
I can't explain why but I think I am going to start reserving my screening of epic movies for the small screen exclusively. In fact, I find that films like Diner and Swingers work both on TV and on the big screen. I know that this isn't supposed to be the case. I know that I am supposed to appreciate the grandeur of the landscapes provided in a movie like Tristan + Isolde, but I just don't understand how that is supposed to be more important than the characters and story.
In fact, a big reason why Tristan + Isolde worked so well for me was it's ability to have about seventy percent of the movie reside in those moments of dialogue and story information. The battle scenes and everything else were fun to watch but ultimately this movie works in spite of all the action and not because of it.
Tristan & Isolde was released April 7, 2006.