Tristan + Isolde (2006)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 18-Sep-2006

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of-Love Conquers All
Gallery-Photo-Behind The Scenes, Production design, Costume design
Audio Commentary-Writer Dean Georgaris
Audio Commentary-Exec. Prod Jim Lenley & Ann Lai
Music Video- Gavin DeGraw - We Belong Together
Web Links
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 120:22
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kevin Reynolds

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring James Franco
Sophia Myles
Rufus Sewell
David O'Hara
Mark Strong
Henry Cavill
Bronagh Gallagher
Ronan Vibert
Lucy Russell
JB Blanc
Graham Mullins
Leo Gregory
Dexter Fletcher
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Anne Dudley

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Audio Commentary
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

The legend of Tristan and Iseult (Tristan and Isolde) is an influential romantic story of the adulterous love between the Cornish knight Tristan and the Irish princess Iseult. The narrative is said to have predated and most likely influenced the Arthurian romance of Lancelot and Guinevere, and has had a substantial impact on Western art and literature since it first appeared in the 12th century. While the fine points of the story differ from one author to another, there are always similarities in the main plot. At the time of writing there have been fifteen film interpretations of the legend. A number of them have been French productions but there have also been Irish, German and Bollywood productions. The latest is the Ridley Scott and Tony Scott produced and Kevin Reynolds directed Tristan + Isolde (2006). Tristan + Isolde (2006) is derived from the opera Tristan und Isolde by composer Richard Wagner.

Tristan + Isolde (2006) is set in Britain in the Early Middle Ages after the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th Century. England has been divided since the fall of the Roman Empire, while Ireland is strong and united. The Irish have therefore been able to dominate the divided territories of England. This prologue also introduces Tristan as a young boy and his father who is leader of their territory. As Tristan's father and other fellow territory leaders discuss a treaty to unite as one kingdom, the Irish attack the ground of Aerygone. Young Tristan witnesses the death of his mother and father and is almost killed himself but is saved by Lord Marke (Rufus Sewell) who loses his hand in the attack. Lord Marke returns to his attacked territory and realises the Irish took advantage of the fact that the leaders of Britain were in one place and burned their villages in their absence. With his sister Edith, Lord Marke vows to raise Tristan as part of the family with Edith's young son Melot, whose father has also died in combat. Across the sea the Irish mourn the loss of their Queen, and her only daughter Isolde silently watches the procession.

As Britain rebuilds, the now adult Tristan (James Franco) is a skilled swordsman and loyal British knight of Aerygone. In Ireland Isolde's father, King Donnchadh speaks with his second in command and orders his men to go to Lord Marke's territory and make slaves of the women. As the Irish soldiers kidnap the villagers, Tristan with Lord Marke's authorization devises a plan to stop the Irish soldiers. The plan succeeds, although Tristan is wounded by a sword laced with poison. Lord Marke and his men are unable to treat Tristan and as he is near death he is given a King's funeral. Lord Marke is devastated that victory was at the cost of Tristan's life.

In the enemy territory of Ireland, Isolde (Sophia Myles) sees a funeral boat on the beach with a lifeless body - Tristan. As she and her maiden Bragnae help Tristan, Isolde is warned by her maiden never to reveal she is the King's daughter and she does not, telling him she is a maiden named Bronwyn. Tristan's wounds over time heal and Isolde begins to fall for him. As the King finds out Tristan's funeral boat had surfaced without a corpse, Tristan is a wanted man and returns to Britain leaving Isolde behind.

Tristan is valiantly welcomed by Lord Marke and the village, although he is saddened he cannot be with Isolde/Bronwyn. At the same time he convinces Lord Marke that he will win a tournament set out by the Irish King on behalf of him. The King offers his daughter as a prize to the territory leader, therefore Tristan will win a bride for Lord Marke in the hope that there will be peace between Britain and Ireland. Lord Marke agrees and Tristan wins the tournament but is distraught when he finds out that the prize is in fact the same woman he is in love with.

Director Kevin Reynolds is no stranger to this epic genre of film having directed Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), Waterworld (1995) and The Count of Monte Cristo (2002). With Tristan + Isolde (2006) the director is able to recreate a rich vision of medieval times but it seems the film was let down by a number of factors. The US PG-13 rating makes the medieval violence seem quite tame when it was not - this same issue also affected Antoine Fuqua's historically inaccurate King Arthur (2004). The action scenes suffer due to the studio attempting to make a mass audience film out of historical subject matter. Furthermore, the studio tries to make the film appear like Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet (1996) with the tagline 'Before Romeo & Juliet, there was...' and the similarities with the use of the '+' in the promotional title.

The performances in the film are not outstanding but are credible. American writer, director and actor James Franco plays Tristan quite well but his accent is fallible which does draw you out of the film. The script does not present much opportunity for Franco to be more then a tortured soul, which is a shame as the young actor is capable of much more. British Sophia Myles is quite good and reminiscent of a young Kate Winslet and Rufus Sewell is equally as good in this melodramatic affair. Tristan + Isolde (2006) is by no means a terrible film but it is missing a certain something. It has been long rumoured this film had been a project of Ridley Scott's since the mid 70s, and with this knowledge I think the film would have certainly been a better film if he had directed it. If you are expecting an action film you will be sorely disappointed, but if a romantic tale, steeped in high melodrama is your penchant Tristan + Isolde (2006) will prove to be a good night's entertainment.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


The PAL transfer is clean, pristine and faultless. Presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and 16x9 enhanced the transfer captures the colour scheme of medieval times perfectly with lush greens, dirty browns and clear blues. Shadow detail is excellent and costume design and set pieces and well presented. There are many darkly lit scenes and the black levels are perfect in these. There are no intrusive defects such as MPEG compression artefacts or colour bleeding evident. Overall, this is a crisp transfer which certainly allows the viewer to enjoy the film. The subtitles are clear and true to the onscreen action and dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


The 5.1 English Dolby Digital soundtrack is also perfectly produced as dialogue is clear and audible. The sound effects of fires burning, trees and water all add to the encompassing presence of the sound. The battle scenes are also well produced although slightly underwhelming. The romantic and dramatic score by Anne Dudley is well suited to the onscreen action and well produced in this soundtrack. Overall, a well produced soundtrack well suited to the main feature.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Despite Tristan + Isolde (2006) being a box office disappointment there are a selection of extra features.

Love Conquers All

A detailed behind the scenes feature with interviews with the cast and crew. The different versions of the legend are discussed in depth and behind the scenes footage of the Irish production is also included. Also discussed is the authenticity of the production and the training the actors underwent for their respective parts. An interesting fact is that Scott initially wanted to make the legend into a science fiction picture (29:13).

Image Galleries

Various images organised in three categories: Behind the Scenes, Production Design, Costume Design

Audio Commentary (2)

Audio Commentary with Screenwriter Dean Georgaris and Audio Commentary with Executive Producer Jim Lemley and Co-Producer Anne Lai.

Both commentaries discuss the production in depth. Georgari's commentary is focused on the narrative and the script's transition to screen while Lemley and Lai speak of the gruelling production. Both will be useful for fans of the film.

Music Video

Gavin DeGraw's "We Belong Together."

Web Links

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The R1 also includes English (DTS 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.1 Surround) and Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.1) audio options and Spanish subtitles.


An admirable film well presented on DVD. The array of extras demonstrate the care and attention instilled by cast and crew in the film's production. The R1 includes a DTS audio option.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1910, using DVI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DSP-A595a - 5.1 DTS
Speakers(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE