Here are a few elements the filmmakers removed:
- Tristan's mother dying when he was born,
- His squire Gorvenal, who is a major figure throughout the story,
- Tristan being kidnapped by pirates,
- Tristan finding himself in Cornwall, not knowing that King Mark of Cornwall was his uncle, his mother's brother (why did the moviemakers write it as "Marke"? Maybe because it was in Olde Englande.),
- The giant, Morholt was Iseult's uncle, not her suitor,
- A piece of Tristan's sword breaking off in Morholt's skull, killing him,
- Iseult's fury at Morholt's death and her oath to kill any man from Cornwall, especially Tristan,
- Tristan killing the dragon, thereby gaining Iseult as King Mark's wife,
- The LOVE POTION!!!
There was lots of blood, lots of swordplay and arrows being shot at people. The actors were very pretty, as they should be, but they were completely uninspired. I wanted to tell Tristan to stand up straight--stop slumping, lad! The filmmakers added some stock characters (the rival nephew, the leader of another clan who was bent on betrayal) and made the story revolve around the evil King of Ireland. Huh? It's true, in the traditional versions, the Irish King levied a tax on Cornwall, but he was in favor Iseult marrying King Mark so the lands would have peace.
This could have been a wonderful movie. What a missed chance.
In response, I'll be telling the story three times in March: at the Lawrence Visitor's Center/Union Depot on March 3 (7:30 p.m., if you're in the area), at a nearby Juvenile Detention Center, and at Going Deep: the Long Traditional Story Festival in Bethlehem IN. I'll tell it and tell it and tell it. So there.