Sunday, August 27, 2006

'Tristan & Isolde' ...

In the spirit of "Braveheart" and "Rob Roy" and all those other epic battle movies, "Tristan & Isolde" combines a bleak color palette and grubby locations with actors with perfect teeth and perfectly applied makeup. Did you know they had eyeshadow in the Dark Ages? Me neither.

So the movie, clocking in at just over two hours, feels even longer, but that didn't stop me from watching the "making of" featurette when it was over. I love the "making of" featurettes on DVDs. Most of the time, they're really fascinating, revealing how certain shots were composed or how certain locations were chosen.

But the "Tristan & Isolde" featurette was different. This time, almost everyone bitched, almost exclusively, about how little money they had to make the film. It went something like this: "It was really hard to built these sets with such a small budget," "This film looks like other epics, but we had very small budget," "Normally, I'd have 80 stunt men for five months, but not this time, because this film has such a small budget," "I've made films with big budgets, but this wasn't one of them. We had a very small budget," "Did we mention that we made this film in spite of a small budget?" "Mee mee mee mee mee mee, mee mee mee mee mee mee, small budget."

For the love of God. OK, I get it. You made this film on a small budget. So I went to IMDb to see just how small it was, and you know what? It's not listed. So I Googled "Tristan + Isolde + budget" and lots of sites mention the now-legendary very small budget, but no one seems to know the dollar amount of the very small budget. Apparently, it's a mythological very small budget. (Complete aside: I'm watching "Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones" - well, I'm not actually watching it, I'm writing this, but it's on the TV, and I just gotta ask: Was Natalie Portman's acting so stilted on purpose?)

So, the very small budget. We can only hypothosize just how small the very small budget was for this movie, but it made less than $15 million, and you gotta figure that they had more than $15 million to make a film that shot in Ireland and the Czech Republic, so we can presume that it lost money, which is to say it did not earn back its very small budget.

Aside from all the griping, the movie itself was fine. Not great, not awful. If you like period pieces and you like love triangles, it's worth a view. The battles aren't as bloody as "Braveheart," but then, Mel Gibson likely had something larger than a very small budget. (He made "Braveheart" for $53 million in 1995, and you might be thinking, "Well, that's quite a lot of money," until you consider that "Waterworld" was released that same year, and it had a budget of $175 million and it earned $88 million in this country, $225 million worldwide. "Braveheart" earned $75 million in this country and $202 worldwide.) And this film didn't have Big-Name Movie Stars to lure moviegoers into the cinema.

But is does have Rufus Sewell. Woof.


Blogger Dave said...

You should have watched the Emmys instead of Natalie Portman's non-acting in Episode Two. Yeah, I know you don't like award shows, but Conan was hilarious, and you missed that rarest of happenings - an awards show that ends on time!

Verification word: xtjoz

2:54 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

Was Natalie Portman's acting so stilted on purpose?
Given the scintillating dialog Lucas wrote, can you really blame her? She was probably having as much trouble staying awake delivering it as the audience.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Pat said...

I saw Tristan and Isolde. Actually liked it.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Hugo said...

I actually found out that the budget for this movie was $31 million and the total box office was $52 million (this includes domestic, foreign and DVD distribution)

1:36 AM  
Blogger Svetlana Mamedova said...

Hi, Beth! I did just the same - tried to rack the actual budget. What i have found, instead, they've made 28 mln - remember, it was a British-german-Chech production, so I guess, people watched it in Europe. I can safely say I am a fan/ scholar of the story - in all its variations, and I was pleasantly surprised at the darker and barer look of the movie. Rufus Sewell is great, but so is James Franco. I am glad I purchased the movie... If you ever find the actual budget, let me know - my blog site is erisvet

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Jamie said...

Seems to me you complain just as much about the small budget as they did just in a less specific way. Not to be rude. It was just noticed. I felt the film was well made and with a PG 13 rating I wouldn't have expected tons of gore although sometimes I am surprised at what is shown on a film despite the rating. As a student in film, animation, and graphic design I felt that the final product was well put together and I appreciate the film greatly. Budget does play a large factor in the film making process.

3:35 AM  

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