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farcical review bullshit, bungled arthuriana? June 22, 2006

Posted by eatnorthamerica in farcical review bullshit.
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I was more than a little afraid that Tristan and Isolde was going to be another notch in the peg of piss-poor Arthuriana films that have hit the big screen lately (let’s not even talk about King Arthur, which had potential that was ruined by Keira Knightley’s posh, prancing, Pictish princess — does she even bother to act? Why does she speak with more plums in her mouth than the king? — and Lancelot as pouty, whiny emo-boy “Why must we save them? I want to go home!” whose face can’t save him from sucking). Particularly since I’ve always been rather enamoured of the “original” versions of the story.

I liked it, slight cheese factor aside (you do know it’s a romance, don’t you). Actually, I was kind of annoyed that I didn’t see it in the theatre. It’s refreshingly ……………….subtle (mostly) for a Hollywoodish flick, with understated sets that felt believably filthy. Rufus Sewell, as usual, owned the screen with sheer presence; I rather liked Sophia Myles as Isolde, although her father could done with some of the same presence that Sewell had. I’m glad they adhered to the tack of King Mark’s retaining his kindness to the very end — the key factor that pulls tragedy out of the story.

The only real gripe I have is that they left the black sails out of the movie. I’d really have liked to have seen that worked in somehow — the ending felt a little anticlimatic as a result. BUT! I thought the script was certainly more coherent than the old romances – shit, imagine having three Isoldes and two Tristans in the same movie.

I just want to point out the inappropriateness of the tagline: Love conquers all. Hello? It’s Tristan and Isolde! Everybody dies! (or is at least left somewhat miserable.)

Anyway, conveniently covering the rest of my thoughts, there’s a more in-depth review by Orson Scott Card here:
http://www.hatrack.com/osc/reviews/everything/2006-01-22.shtml. Flame on.

NB: I have not seen Knight’s Tale, the trailer scared me. Is it any good?
NB2: The one awesome thing about King Arthur was that Mads Mikkelsen as “Tristan” (as far as I can tell none of his backstory ever surfaced) looked ludicrously cool.
NB3: If anyone has any recommendations for films in the same vein, let me know so I can binge!

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