Sunday, June 04, 2006

Tristan and Isolde

Watched Tristan & Isolde today. I find it interesting which parts of the original story (stories) Hollywood changed. It kinda gives an idea of how our perception of a successful narrative changed from the 12th century to today.
I heard the story some time ago, but didn't remember much of it. So did a friend of mine. We both had the feeling that the original story was changed a lot. It turned out that the stories weren't changed that much (Hollywood basically took all of the existing Tristan stories and picked out the parts they liked and merged them together). We simply perceived the story as very different because the one item that makes Tristan and Isolde stand apart from other stories of that genre - and thus makes it recognisable - was left out: the love potion.
Having a rough look at both stories, it seems to me the original story was more focused on how the king reacts to his wife's unfaithfulness and what political consequences it has, while the 2006 Tristan and Isolde has the focus on the love story. The political implications are still there, but they are only the secondary story.
The fact that Hollywood deliberately removed the love potion makes me believe they don't think a love story made of "fake" love would be commercially successful. Admittedly, it probably wouldn't be. It's still a pity the love potion was removed, since, for me, it was the one critical item that I remembered of the story. The 2006 story is just another love story now. Shame.
I think the film would have been more successful if it hadn't been promoted as the 'love story pre-Romeo&Juliet'. While the fight scenes weren't the best, they were the interesting parts for guys. Me, I went to see the film because of the medieval setting and the costumes. Lots of girls probably went to see it because of the love story. Guys, for the most part (I imagine) would only see it when being dragged into the cinema by their girlfriends. So I'd probably have given the political intrigues a bigger part and kept the love potion. The relationship between Tristan and his uncle was interesting enough to carry one of the main complications of the film. It just wouldn't have lured all the love-hungry girls into the cinema.

I also was vaguely amused by Isolde's heart-shaped earrings. I'd be very surprised if earrings like that existed in the 12th century.

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