Tristan + Isolde appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The transfer featured many positives and very few negatives.
Sharpness was strong. Virtually no softness crept into the presentation. The film exhibited a crisp, detailed image at all times. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed only a sliver of edge enhancement. Source flaws also seemed absent.
The filmmakers opted for some stylized tones in Tristan. The movie stayed with desaturated tones and favored darker hues. We saw subdued greens and blues through much of the flick, with virtually no brighter bits on display. All these colors seemed well reproduced within the movie’s palette. Blacks were also deep and dense, while shadows offered appropriate definition. Overall, this was a very satisfying image.
I also really liked the audio of Tristan + Isolde. The DVD included very similar Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 mixes. I thought the DTS mix was a little more robust, but I didn’t detect substantial differences between the two tracks.
I had no problem with that since the pair sounded great. The soundfield seemed involving and active, especially during the battle scenes. Those offered the showiest moments, though all parts of the flick depicted a nice sense of environment.
Audio quality was similarly positive. Dialogue appeared distinct and natural, with no issues connected to edginess or intelligibility. Music sounded clear and bright and displayed good range. Effects were clean and accurate, while low-end boomed nicely. This was a very good mix that supported the material well.
In regard to extras, Tristan comes with two separate audio commentaries. The first features screenwriter Dean Georgaris. He presents a running, screen-specific discussion. Despite a few lulls, Georgaris offers a generally solid chat.
As expected, the commentary mostly addresses script issues. Georgaris tells us about the project’s long path to the screen, as he originally created it as a writing exercise back in the mid-Nineties. Georgaris goes over his collaboration with director Kevin Reynolds and producer Ridley Scott as well as changes made through various drafts, cut and altered sequences, influences and elements he does and doesn’t like. Georgaris keeps things fairly light and engaging as he discusses his work and how the final product represents his vision. This ends up as a nice little chat.
For the second commentary, we hear from executive producer Jim Lemley and co-producer Anne Lai . Both sit together for their running, screen-specific track. They get into the expected mix of topics. We hear a little about the adaptation and other story issues. We also learn about the cast and characters, sets and locations, crew and their work, and general notes from the production.
Lai and Lemley get into various problems and challenges. We find out how weather negatively impacted on the shoot as well as injuries to actors. At no point does this threaten to become a particularly scintillating conversation, but it also never flops. Lai and Lemley offer a perfectly serviceable and informative discussion that digs into appropriate topics with reasonable depth.
Next we find a featurette called Love Conquers All: Making of Tristan + Isolde. This 29-minute and 10-second piece mixes movie clips, behind the scenes elements and interviews. We hear from Lai, Georgaris, Lemley, director Kevin Reynolds, production designer Mark Geraghty, stunt coordinator/second unit director Nick Powell, cinematographer Artur Reinhart, and actors James Franco, Sophia Myles, Rufus Sewell, Henry Cavill, JB Blanc, Bronagh Gallagher, Thomas Sangster, and Mark Strong.
“Conquers” looks at the development of the script, the influence of prior versions, and this one’s path to the screen. From there we get notes about the flick’s low budget and related concerns, the cast and their performances, various visual design decisions and attempts at historical accuracy. Next we learn about complications on location, costumes and sets, cinematography, stunts and actor training, Reynolds’ work,
I must admit I expected the usual promotional fluff from “Conquers”, but the program offers much greater depth than that. It presents a nice encapsulation of the production and benefits from a number of insights. The documentary boasts a lot of solid behind the scenes footage and covers the shoot well. Take this one as a fine overview.
Inside the Image Galleries, we discover three separate areas. These include “Behind the Scenes” (122 shots), “Production Design” (47), and “Costume Design” (37). These provide surprisingly solid photos. The “BTS” pictures are more candid than usual, and all offer nice elements of the production.
In the advertising department, the DVD includes trailer as well as 11 TV spots. We also discover two music videos for Gavin DeGraw’s “We Belong Together”. The “long” one goes for four minutes, 36 seconds, while the “short” version fills two minutes, 30 seconds. The long one includes lip-synch shots of DeGraw mixed with movie clips and a story that shows a modern girl who gets involved in the story when she reads it. The short take just offers a cut rendition of the longer one. It’s a decent video for a sappy song.
While I like the fact that Tristan + Isolde never becomes a piece of pandering pop puffery, I can’t say the movie does much to rise above mediocrity. A lack of complexity and a passionless romance cause it to sputter and never become anything memorable. The DVD provides excellent picture quality as well as very good audio and a fairly useful set of extras. This is a solid DVD for a lackluster movie.