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Saturday, 3 February 2007

'Tristan And Isolde'

I’ve been given so many contradicting opinions of ‘Tristan & Isolde‘. This is a movie that appeals to some romance lovers and a movie that others would rather die than watch again. So a night in with my sister gave me the chance to see for myself.

Set in Medieval Times, ‘Tristan & Isolde’ is a take on the ongoing feud between Britannia, made up of Scotland, Wales and England, and the kingdom of Ireland. At this time, Ireland has the upper hand, as Britannia is divided between the three tribes. After a particularly ferocious battle, Tristan (James Franco), a warrior for the leader of England Marke (Rufus Sewell), and considered his son is wounded and presumed dead. The daughter of the Irish king, Isolde (Sophia Myles), finds him on a beach on the East Coast of Ireland. She nurses him back to health and the more time the two spend together, the deeper they fall in love. The danger for Tristan to stay in Ireland is too great so the pair are forced to say farewell. Soon after Tristan returns home Britannia decides finally to unite against Ireland.The Irish King Donncha offers Isolde as a peace offering to Marke. Tristan and Isolde then embark on an affair behind the English King’s back, betraying the man who loves them both more than anyone else in the world.

‘Tristan & Isolde’ is a movie that could have worked. The plot, though not very original, is quite strong. I don’t know how accurate this movie is in terms of Irish and British history as I’m no expert, but this movie does give an insight into the ancient traditions of Britannia and Ireland. In those times honour and duty to your king were more important than anything else, kings would promise their daughters to other kings, one man killing another was an everyday part of life. It’s almost shocking to think that people once lived that way.

This movie is shot beautifully. The director(Kevin Reynolds) captures the darkness of the Middle Ages. I don’t know whether it was shot in Ireland, England, Scotland or Wales but wherever, the scenery makes a very effective backdrop for ‘Tristan & Isolde’. I also loved the ceremonies that take place. The wedding between Isolde and her king is beautifully done, the funeral of Isolde’s mother is wonderfully traditional, the coronation of Isolde and king is awe-inducing. If nothing else, ‘Tristan and Isolde’ is visually stunning.

Considering how much violence there is in ‘Tristan & Isolde’, there is a noticeable lack of gore, so this movie won’t turn your stomach. And the battle scenes are very effective, not that I know much about battle scenes. There are a few cheap laughs thrown in too, most provided by Isolde’s maid Bragnae(Bronagh Gallagher)and her strong Irish accent (anything said in this accent sounds hilarious).

The big let down for me was the love story. I didn’t like it. I didn’t feel the passion between Tristan and Isolde, I was left cold by every kiss they shared. At the beginning I thought James Franco would be perfect in the role of Tristan, but it soon became clear that he didn’t have the skills to make an audience feel his love for Isolde. Or maybe there really was no chemistry between the two actors. Myles is fine in the role of Isolde, just fine, not great.

And the king was so nice, so good, that I was angry at Tristan and Isolde for betraying him. At the end of the movie, I was empathising with the king, not the young lovers. This, I think shows how much ‘Tristan & Isolde’ failed for me. This movie was supposed to be an epic love story. But half way through I wanted them to finish whatever it was they had, and for Isolde to fall in love with the king. Because, to be honest, I much preferred Sewell as the king than Franco as Tristan. And the ending of this movie should have made me bawl my eyes out, but instead I blew out a sigh of relief and went to find my copy of ‘Shrek’.

I’m not saying that this is a bad movie, it was watchable as far as I’m concerned, so rent yourself a copy and make up your own mind.

Rating: 20/50

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Kate Walker said...

Hi Maria

I haven't seen this film yet so I can't comment - but I just wanted to say thank you for visiting my blog - and to return the compliment by dropping by to say hello.

I'm going to be visiting Ireland again this month - did I mention that both my mother and father were born there?

Holly said...

I completely agree with what you said about this movie...except about Tristan. I think he did an amazing job of showing not only his love for Isolde, but his determination to do the right thing...and his torment when he couldn't.

It was Isolde I had the issue with. Rather than coming across as totally in love, instead she just seemed whiny. She got on my nerves. lol

Maria, Lover of All Things Romance said...

Maybe you're right Holly, something wasn't right about the love thing but I had trouble deciding exactly what. Tristan was pretty hot, wasn't he?

Dianna said...

I love this film & watch it all the time! I was VERY impressed with James Franco as Tristan! (I love that name, TRISTAN!) This boy has grown UP!!
ANNAPOLIS happened to be on the same time as T+I so to get DOUBLE the James was a win-win for ME!
I could plainly see the pain in Tristan's eyes when he saw that he did not win Isolde for himself but for his king. Because he was bound by duty & honor & all of that, he told her they must live with it and oh! How they tried to! But alas, they could not! And they'd steal away every chance they got but hated doing it. The King was an excellent king but I could only see T+I together. I felt every emotion from every actor.


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