All indications are that this film could be magnificent; although, with a January release date, the lack of publicity that it has generated is worrying. Perhaps after flops such as Alexander the Great
and Kingdom of Heaven,
Hollywood fails to appreciate public enthusiasm for period films (whereas the failure of those movies is due not to their historicity, but to the filmmakers' decision to impose modern political sensibilities on timeless stories, rather than acknowledging the radically different value-systems that existed in bygone eras).
The only distracting element in the Tristan & Isolde
trailer is the contemporary background music (which is hopefully restricted to this promo, and will not be present in the actual movie). The film itself is being scored by a standard, prolific Hollywood tunesmith, and although one can understand the desire not to use a cut-and-paste version of Wagner's music, it's a shame that the producers failed to employ composers who have proven their ability to create surging orchestral soundtracks for period films, as Howard Shore did in Lord of the Rings,
or as James Horner did in the flawless Braveheart.
Then again, Wagner can
be successfully integrated into a film score; e.g., John Boorman's flawed but atmospheric Excalibur
(1981), which is easily the best screen treatment of the Arthurian sagas, and features musical passages from many Wagnerian operas.
Incidentally, anyone who ever has the opportunity to visit the legendary Neuschwanstein
castle in Bavaria will witness an unforgettable tribute to Tristan & Isolde in the king's Neo-Gothic bedroom
The walls of the bedroom are adorned with paintings by A. Spiess, depicting moments from the Tristan & Isolde saga, including this sensual interpretation of their moonlight rendezvous:
And just for good measure, here is another wonderful painting of a moment in the story, the title of which explains the scene: "They Fought for the Love of One Lady, and Ever She Lay on the Walls and Beheld Them," by Sir William Russell Flint (1880-1969):
There is something utterly irresistible about the notion of the fair Isolde reposing indolently on a castle wall, taking pleasure in the sight of two knights locked in mortal combat for her favour. Nothing less would be her due, as a legendary beauty.
We eagerly look forward to this cinematic interpretation of one of the most venerable love stories in Western culture.
- Click here for the finest of all Tristan & Isolde recordings . . .