Jan 16, 2006
Never tired of successful genres, Hollywood has again brought us that classic combination of historical war epic and doomed romance (think Gone with the Wind, Braveheart, Gladiator). Although Tristan & Isolde is unlikely to be remembered with the fondness of these popular films, I was surprised by its beauty and occasional originality.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Britain and Ireland find themselves at war. The Irish king assumes the role of the tyrant while the British play the underdogs, scattered among several tribes who must unite to maintain any hope of freedom. Fellowship and loyalty are necessary for Britain's victory, which introduce into the story deceit, betrayal, pride and ultimately the virtues to overcome them.
Against this political background, we find Tristan, a British warrior, washed up on the shores of Ireland. Isolde is the daughter of the Irish king, and she longs for something more to life than his cold tyranny. She finds it in this young man, whom she nurses back to health. Predictably, the two fall in love.
The remainder of the plot is too complicated to explain here, but Isolde eventually marries King Marke of England, who has been Tristan's foster father since the death of his own parents. The lovers fall to the temptation of adultery, which although morally disappointing does add interesting tension to the narrative. These twists and turns in the plot really constitute the backbone of the film, which would be quite boring if left only to its romance and battle scenes.
As it is, I enjoyed this movie, and I would recommend it to all who fall within its PG-13 rating. Tristan & Isolde earns this rating with a few mild love scenes and violence in battle. Although it deals with the topic of adultery, the film does not seem to condone it. In general, the presence of deceit in this film actually facilitates the triumph of justice and goodness.