Tristan & Isolde

So tonight I and some gals from the English department went to see Tristan & Isolde. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much at a movie that’s meant to be a drama. I was going to try and take it seriously, but the movie blew it when the first screenshot listed the setting as “Brittain, The Dark Ages.” The Dark Ages? I’m not even going to get into how much of a misnomer that is, but it was enough to offend this medievalist. On top of that, when Isolde discovers Tristan washed up on the beach, she and her maid strip themselves and rub against him to warm him up since they couldn’t start a fire. I kid you not. Then half the scenes in the movie just reminded us all of other movies. It was either “Hey, they stole that from Lord of the Rings” or “Can we say Rocky?” or “Hello, Romeo and Juliet.” Seriously.

In one of the scenes Isolde is reading this poem, and Diana asks, “What is that?” and I said sarcastically, “Probably Shakespeare.” So when the movie ends we’re sitting there still talking about it, and the credits say that the poem is by John Donne. John Donne, who was not even alive in the so-called “dark ages.” That sort of anachronism in a movie that’s supposed to be based on a literary legend is just absurd and embarrassing. Not to mention the fact that the love potion that plays an integral part in several versions of the legend was completely missing in this movie, which I guess in one way is in the movie’s favor, since it makes it seem like the love between Tristan and Isolde was real. (For more info on the story of Tristan and Isolde, go here.) But then on the other hand most of what we were shown was not love, but lust, as is typical in Hollywood’s depictions of love. We did feel a little bad after it was over because several people around us were sniffling and out-and-out bawling and we were all snickering through a good portion of it. I didn’t think we were all that loud, but pretty sure that when we were talking about it after it ended and giggling some more, we got glares from a whole row full of girls sitting a few rows in front of us. Oops.

The movie wasn’t without its redeeming qualities. All of the leads were good, and I especially liked Rufus Sewell, who played Lord Marke. Sophia Myles, the actress who played Isolde, reminded me a lot of Kate Winslet, and that’s a good thing in my opinion. And the film did attempt to make this more than just a love triangle; the choices of the characters affected not only themselves but nations. In the end, it was great to see it with other English majors, but I recommend saving your money and renting it.

In unrelated news, I’m super excited about the long weekend. Turns out that Paul Rusesabagina, the man on whom Hotel Rwanda is based, is speaking at UT on Monday, so that should be really interesting. Not only that, but there’s also a possible marathon of the British version of The Office in the works for Sunday night. Fun times. Have a great weekend!

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