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PHOTOGRAPHY

TRISTAN AND ISOLDE

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 125 minutes, two aduio commentaries, making of featurette, image galleries, music video, theatrical trailers and TV spots

STUDIO: FOX/ Scott Free

RELEASE DATE: 4-25-2006

TRSITAN AND ISOLDE is a legend told many times over several centuries. Wagner made an opera about the two tragic lovers and Ridley Scott once tried to make a sci-fi version of TRISTAN AND ISOLDE, but he instead made ALIEN. Ridely Scott tried to make TRISTAN AND ISOLDE for several years and then a spec script by Dean Geogaris came to the attention of Scot Free productions. Ridley bought the script and more years passed until Kevin Reynolds (Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves and Waterworld) was attached to direct the film. For everybody involved, it was a labor of love. The trailers and the DVD cover state this was before Romeo and Juliet. Well, I say TRISTAN AND ISOLDE is better than Romeo and Juliet (any film version). The action scenes are brilliantly staged and the look is authentic to what they could find out about the Dark Ages. Like many films set during a time period long ago, TRISTAN AND ISOLDE takes liberties with history like KING ARTHUR did.

TRISTAN AND ISOLDE is set in the period after the Romans have left England. Ireland rules over the tribes of England who are splintered. They try to ban together as one nation, but the ruthless king of Ireland always finds out about it and stops it. After a battle to save English women taken as slaves by the Irish, Tristan is hit by a poisoned sword. His fellow warriors think he is dead, but he is just paralyzed for a time. They give Tristan a funeral and set his funeral boat out to sea. Somehow his boat doesn't burn and he washed up on the shores of Ireland to be found by Isolade, the daughter of the Irish king. Tristan and Isolade fall in love, but their love is torn apart when Tristan comes back to Ireland and wins the king's daughter for his ruler only to find out Isolade is that woman. From there, events threaten to tear apart everything. It is easy to see TRSITAN AND ISOLDE was the prototype for other forbidden romances such as Lancelot and Guinevere. The movie and the tale have such a non-Hollywood ending. Life isn't always full of happy endings. Why do they think they call it a tragic romance?!

The actors are right for the film and TRISTAN AND ISOLDE fills a gap as I wait for the Director's Cut of KINGDOM OF HEAVEN to come to DVD. If you're expecting Braveheart or a very accurate to history film, go elsewhere. If you want a period romance with sword fighting, watch this one.

VIDEO: 1.85:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

Image detail is fine, but the transfer isn't as good as say something you see on the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN DVD. It might be due to all of the audio tracks taking up space on the DVD (four audio tracks for the film to chose from and two audio commentary tracks for a two hour film) in addition to the extras.

AUDIO: English 5.1 Dolby Surround, English 5.1 DTS, Spanish 2.0 DS, French 2.0 DS

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Lots of choices on the audio spectrum including A DTS track. Dialogue is audible and the audio track is good.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The extras are many for a single disc DVD. This is due to the DVD Producer who had been producing many of the other Scot Free DVDs (like KINGDOM OF HEAVEN and the upcoming DC of KOH). The 29 minutes making of Tristan and Isolde featurette called LOVE CONQUERS ALL is a very well put together showing how they managed to make the film on a tight budget and shoot between two countries (Ireland and the Czech Republic). Behind-the-scenes footage and interviews are intertwined in addition to weapons training footage from James Franco. 11 TV spots and the original theatrical trailer are also included. The three image galleries are fun. The behind-the-scenes gallery shows stills from the production and the cast being funny between takes. The costume design gallery also contains some of those funny moments from the production. The production design gallery is too short. If you like Gavin McGraw, two versions of the We Belong Together music video (starring Sophia Myles) are included. The extras don't stop there as two audio commentaries were recorded for the film. The first is with Producer Jim Lemley and Co-Producer Ann Lai, but I have a soft spot for the other commentary with Screenwriter Dean Georaris. On top of that except for the TV spots, all extras are in Anamorphic Widescreen.

FINAL ANALYSIS: Whether you like TRISTAN AND ISOLDE or not, the extras on the DVD are how most single disc DVDs should be done.

this review is (c)4-29-2006 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link to the review). Look for additional content at http://enterlinemedia.livejournal.com and send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com