Tristan and Isolde (2002) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
4Jul/100

Tristan and Isolde (2002)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

Danny DISLIKEPretend it's 2006-- I know, I can't tell any specific year in the last decade apart from the rest, but help me out here and recall an early January release called Tristan + Isolde, one of those movies that starred James Franco where he wasn't a pot head or living with a giant monkey.

That's not the movie I'm talking about today. Instead, I've got an animated French film from four years earlier dubbed into English and taking the medieval tale and placing it in a fantasy realm full of annoying sidekicks, mute faeries, and more plot than you can hope to fit into 90 minutes, so they instead put it in 80.

It's your usual kind of story: Tristan wants to become a knight, goes to his uncle's kingdom, runs into a wacky sprite Puck on the way, Uncle sends Tristan to fight evil other king's champion, Tristan beats champion but is poisoned, sets sail to get cured, falls in love with the enemy's daughter, daughter learns who he is, sends him back to Uncle, Uncle sends him back as ambassador at the behest of his evil Regent, Tristan has to fight a giant dragon, accidentally wins Isolde's hand for his Uncle, Tristan and Isolde take a love potion, get caught looking deeply into each others eyes, Tristan sentenced to be killed, evil Regent reveals he's evil, Tristan has to stop him, Uncle sees Tristan kicking ass, gives him Isolde, wedding, wacky sprite warns them that doom in encroaching, dumb site gag where sprite gets eaten by Venus flytrap, the end.

See? Simple.

And, yeah, the filmmaker's chopped off the original story's sad ending. I know this has a long tradition in family movies, but it still seems horribly out of place; most of the conflict between Isolde's father and Tristan's uncle goes unchecked, rather substituting the problems with the vile regent to make the film's climax. The two lovers are warned at the end that trouble lies ahead for them, but whether that's an apology for the happy ending or an unsubtle way to hint at a sequel, who can say.

The animation doesn't look terrible at a glance, but the model work is painfully obvious; every character and piece of background looks like separate elements arranged in front of you. For a better analogy, pretend every movie is a complete sandwich, and in this film you're just watching the cheese staring off to the left, the bread is wandering around aimlessly in the background, and the ham is trying to do his best Woody Woodpecker impersonation.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the ham is Puck, the goofy wood sprite added into the movie to try and capture some of that "Robin Williams as Genie" charm. The film's lifeless animation especially does him no favors, and though his character has supposedly read the 'prophecy' of Tristan and Isolde, he often goes out of his way to help Tristan for no concievable reason. His faerie sidekick, Teazle, is especially useless since she's mute and doesn't say or do anything that actually warrants her inclusion in the film.

After all of this, I can say that I was never bored during the film: so much happens you can barely keep up. But it's not very interesting in that regard either.

The best thing I can say about the entire film is that it resulted in this IMDB comment (click for full):

Awwww. Hello indeed.

Tristan and Isolde (2002)

This movie (IMDB) is currently available on Netflix Instant.

Directed by Thierry Schiel
Starring Louis Wright and Ciara Barker

Posted by Danny

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