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MOVIE REVIEW (Drama)
Tristan and Isolde
James Franco, Sophia Myles, Rufus Sewell

The Official Site
Soundtrack and book available at Amazon.com

Label: Kevin Reynolds, Dean Georgaris Released: 11/12/2005


It is the Dark Ages and England finds itself struggling with famine and war. Ravaged by centuries of Roman and other occupations, poverty and despair are a part of life. The threat of attack from neighboring Ireland is a daily reality for many tribes on the western coast of England. It is during one of the many Irish ambushes that a young Tristan is left orphaned. Lord Marke (Rufus Sewell) and his men take the boy in and he is raised as a knight of the household of neighboring castle D'or.

Years later, Tristan (James Franco), now a young man, witnesses the capture and kidnapping of subjects from the village at D'or and embarks on a dangerous retrieval mission with his fellow knights. During the ambush, he is wounded by a poison-laced sword brandished by a fearsome Irish warrior. He falls into a coma and is thought dead.

His soldier's funeral sends him adrift in a boat and he washes up on the shore of Ireland. Isolde (Sophia Myles), who is, unbeknownst to Tristan, daughter of the Irish king, discovers and secretly nurses him back to health. Tristan responds to Isolde's tender care with love and the two people become enraptured in a passionate affair. Under threat of discovery, he is, however, forced to return to England.

Meanwhile, the Irish king agrees to a truce between the tribes and offers the hand of his daughter in marriage as a token of good will. Lord Marke receives Isolde as his wife, leaving Tristan to long for a woman he cannot have. Will their desires overcome them and spell doom for the fragile peace between the two warring peoples?

This is a refreshingly grounded interpretation of the ancient legend of the two doomed young lovers. As legends often do, this one has been known to boast embellishments such as magic potions, wizards and sorcery and magic love spells. Fortunately, this is a somewhat more conceivable interpretation, as the two lovers are merely on opposite sides of the front, which prevents them from from being together without causing upheaval.

Duty is of high priority to each of their individual stations in life. Isolde, as the daughter of a king, must obey the will of her father, and Tristan is bound by honor to his master as well. Appropriately gritty and spare, the reality of the environment at the time is well executed and the battle scenes are quite enthralling. This is a romance that will tug at your heart without too much sap. See it.

Natalie Baginski Email WWW

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