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Film / Tristan and Isolde

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The 2006 film based on the legend of Tristan and Iseult. It stars James Franco and Sophia Myles as the eponymous lovers of the title; they fell in love after Tristan is left for dead and the Irish princess Isolde and her nurse tend to his wounds, causing the affection between Tristan and Isolde to grow, but things turn sour when Isolde (who is deeply in love with Tristan) learns she is instead to be betrothed to his uncle Marke. The film also attempts to be as realistic as possible for the setting, one example being that there is no mention of King Arthur, who usually is present, at least in the background, of most of the adaptations of the legend.


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Contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptation Distillation: Definitely shorter than some of the interpretations.
  • Annoying Arrows: Multiple characters take arrows in combat. At most, they take a few seconds to remove and the character continues on. Near the end, one character takes an arrow to the back, mid torso; he looks annoyed and charges into battle, arrow still sticking out of his back.
  • Artistic Licence – History: While the Irish did actually invade Britain at one point during the Dark Ages, their forces were nowhere near as powerful as shown in the film. British forces were more concerned with fighting off the Anglo-Saxons than the Irish.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Tristan dies during the epic battle at the end, though Isolde is left alive, mourning her love. Potentially, it could have a been a Downer Ending, since most adaptations of the story usually end with both the lovers dying together.
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  • Meaningful Name: Counts for all the retellings: "Tristan" alludes to "triste" (French for "sad"), which foreshadows the Downer Ending of the love story.note 
  • Love Triangle: Isolde loves Tristan, Marke is betrothed to Isolde for political reasons, Tristan loves Isolde. Made complicated by the fact that Marke and Tristan love each other as surrogate father and son.
  • Mortal Wound Reveal: To Tristan near the beginning of the film. His wound initially appears not that serious, but just as we're informed that the weapon was poisoned he collapses, apparently dead. Being the protagonist, he gets better, but his friends don't know that.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Pretty much necessary.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Inverted. Marke is Tristan's uncle in the mythology, but is just someone who saves his life in the film.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Marke, who marries Isolde. For added salt in the wound, Tristan wins Isolde's hand on his behalf, not realising until it's too late.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Kind of a given, considering its foundation in the tragic legend.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Mentioned briefly at the end by Isolde, who is presumably pregnant with Tristan's child.
  • Together in Death: Averted, Isolde lives and speaks the last lines of the film - about Tristan.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Unable to be with Tristan, Isolde resorts to trysts with him that they kept secret from her husband, King Marke, who is also Tristan's uncle.

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