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Before Romeo & Juliet, there was...Tristan & Isolde.|"Before Romeo & Juliet, There Was..."
"Deadly serious, straightforward and surprisingly entertaining tragedy. Connie Ogle, Miami Herald
|In the medieval legend of tristan and isolde, young lovers become doomed against the forces of royal politics. English knight tristan wins the hand of the daughter of the irish king, but the love threatens the truce between their two countries.|
"There's something beautiful about a well-made tragic love story... James Berardinelli's ReelViews
"Great action, terrific performances! Access Hollywood
"Director Kevin Reynolds strikes a good balance between action and romance in this version of the medieval legend... Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader
"James Franco is a gorgeous, smoldering lover in Tristan & Isolde... Claudia Puig, USA Today
"...good casting, an able director, and notable cinematography draw you in to the fairy tale feeling of long ago and far away. Jessica Letkemann, Premiere
Director Kevin Reynolds (WATERWORLD) delivers a memorable, good-looking version of the enduring Celtic legend, which has remained a quintessential love story throughout centuries of retelling. Ridley Scott makes his presence felt as executive producer, with the story unfolding on an epic scale set in medieval England. The English live under the iron rule of the Irish, and the young Tristan's parents are working to unite the tribes of England against their oppressors. When they are murdered by Irish infiltrators, Tristan is rescued by Lord Marke (Rufus Sewell, HELEN OF TROY), in whose kingdom he is raised as a son. Tristan (James Franco, SPIDER-MAN 2) grows up to be a valiant warrior and noble knight, and when he is felled in battle he is given a king's memorial, sent to sea in a boat that washes up on Irish shores. There, Tristan is revived and healed in secret by the beautiful Princess, Isolde (Sophia Myles), who at the insistence of her handmaiden doesn't tell Tristan her real name. The two beautiful young people inevitably fall in love, but their passion is cut short when Tristan is forced to flee home to England.Tristan eventually returns to Ireland to compete on Marke's behalf in a tournament for the Princess's hand in marriage, and only when he wins does he realize his error when he learns the Princess's true identity. Thus Isolde returns as Marke's bride, and, unable to deny their passion, the lovers take up a treacherous affair behind Marke's back. As Marke's enemies begin to suspect, they devise a plan to use Tristan's betrayal to break up the tenuous alliance between the English tribes.
Cast & Crew
Movieline's Hollywood Life
"Director Kevin Reynolds has crafted an impressively mounted epic....Sewell provides an emotional intensity."
"[A] serious, old-fashioned, history-heavy romance....Sturdy, steady..."
"[With] an enjoyable soundtrack."
ReelViews 8 of 10
Tristan & Isolde is based on a very old British legend that tells of the doomed love between a Briton (Tristan) and an Irish princess (Isolde). It is believed that the story of Tristan and Isolde may be the inspiration for that of Lancelot and Guinevere and, at least as presented in Reynolds' version of the story (penned by Dean Georgaris), the Arthurian elements come to the fore. In order to better ground the tale, the filmmakers have removed references to sorcery...There's something beautiful about a well-made tragic love story. It may not be as uplifting as one with a happy ending, but it's more cathartic. Tears, they say, are good for the soul, and few will leave Tristan & Isolde with dry eyes. It is an affecting motion picture with enough romance to satisfy those who appreciate that genre, and enough swordplay and battle scenes to keep lovers of derring-do from becoming restless...Mention needs to be made of the PG-13 rating. It's the curse of a film like Tristan & Isolde that the need to reach a teenage audience results in the neutering of battle scenes that should be raw and bloody, and sex scenes that shouldn't be hurt by awkward camera angles and inappropriate close-ups. Ideally, Tristan & Isolde should be R-rated (and, for all I know, it was originally intended to be so). This is one of those rare movies when the pruning necessary to get a rating seems evident, and it makes me wonder how much better an already engaging motion picture could have been...That quibble aside, I can wholeheartedly recommend Tristan & Isolde, even to those who don't have a penchant for period piece romances. The movie has a lot to offer, and hope those who like this kind of movie discover it either now or when it reaches the DVD store.
- James Berardinelli
Chicago Sun-Times 8 of 10
"Tristan & Isolde" begins with bits of the same myth that has inspired works ranging from sword & sorcery movies ("Lovespell") to operas by Wagner, and transforms them, rather surprisingly, into a lean and effective action romance...The movie is better than the commercials would lead you to believe -- and better, perhaps, than the studio expected, which may be why it was on the shelf for more than a year. Distributors who are content with the mediocre grow alarmed, sometimes, by originality and artistry: Is this movie too good for the demographic we're targeting?...Sophia Myles plays Isolde as the daughter of a king, raised by the king's rules, true to her own emotions but true, too, to her duty. She doesn't mistake Isolde for the heroine of a teenage romance. James Franco (the "Spider-Man" movies, "The Great Raid," the upcoming "Annapolis") is not a larger-than-life comic hero but a vulnerable warrior capable of doubts and schemes. Rufus Sewell ("Dark City") plays Lord Marke as a statesman in a land of squabbling egos, who, when he discovers a surprising secret, is inspired not so much by jealousy as by the offense to his sense of the rightness of things...One key to the quality of the movie may be the co-producers, Ridley ("Gladiator") Scott and Tony ("Top Gun") Scott. Ridley Scott wanted to direct this movie for 15 years, and although "Gladiator" may have pre-empted it on his schedule, it's clear he was intrigued not only by the possibilities for action but by the impossible personal dilemma that faces Tristan and Isolde. By removing elements of magic and operatic excess from the story, the brothers Scott focus on what is, underneath, a story as tragic (and less contrived) as the one cited in the ads, "Romeo and Juliet."
- Roger Ebert