The film is set in England and Ireland during the Dark Ages, sometime after the fall of the Roman Empire. Not much is known about this era so producer Ridley Scott and Director Kevin Reynolds had a fairly blank slate with which to work regarding the look of the film. Torn between making a film of historical accuracy and one that appeals to large audiences, the filmmakers unfortunately chose the latter. But by doing so, they stripped the story of its rich origins and mystical Old World allure. What we're left with feels like it's dangling in suspension somewhere between Dawson's Creek and Braveheart... but not nearly as good as either.
Ireland and England are at war. Tired of suffering under the domination of the Irish King Donnehadh, Lord Marke (Rufus Sewell) with his trusty knight Tristan (James Franco) at his side, wants to unite the English tribes into a single nation in hopes of finally overthrowing the smothering Irish rule. Gravely wounded during a battle and set to sea in a Viking funeral, Tristan washes ashore in Ireland and is nursed back to health by Isolde (Sophia Myles), the Irish king's daughter. The two fall in love but soon realize that Tristan must return to his native Cornwall or face death at the hands of the Irish. As circumstances eventually result in the marriage of Isolde to Lorde Mark, Tristan and Isolde rekindle their affair at the risk of destroying not only Tristan's relationship with his adoptive father, but also of the newly formed kingdom of England itself.
Kevin Reynolds is not new to period pieces. Having made Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and the Count of Monte Cristo he has skins on the wall. But the dumbed-down script by Dean Georgaris and uninspired performances deal him a bad hand here. It's clear that he was mandated to shoot for a more mainstream audience, and unfortunately he hit his intended target. The themes that run through the classic tale are glossed over and replaced by teen angst, puppy love and California accents. Such a resilient and lasting love story deserves better...and so do we.
Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1
Subtitles: English; Spanish; Closed Captioned.
Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo; English: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo; Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; deleted scenes; director's commentary; making-of featurette.
* Audio Commentary
o With screenwriter Dean Georgaris.
o With executive producer Jim Lemley and co-producer Anne Lai.
o Love Conquers All: The Making of Tristan + Isolde
* Image Galleries
o Production Design
o Costume Design
* Music Video
* Trailer - original theatrical trailer for Tristan & Isolde plus TV spots
Number of discs: - Keepcase Packaging
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