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Take Two 

by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & Tristan and Isolde & r & & r & MEMO & r & & r & To: Hack Screenwriters & r & From: Archetypal Studio Exec & r & RE: Future Adaptations & r & & r & Hot diggity-damn, I love the Dark Ages. Have you heard about this? They're great. There are all these legends floating around about amazing things and incredibly noble people who make great film fodder. King Arthur, Robin Hood, whatever -- it's all good. Everyone knows of them, everyone feels a connection to them, but no one really knows anything about them.

It's like a blank slate that's still, y'know, completely pregnant with a collective mythos. You can say anything you want and still get peeps in seats. Don't worry about historical truths, because there were none. Especially in Britain. Those dumb-ass 6th-century Picts and Celts couldn't write to save their lives. It's awesome. When written records do pop up, it's 300 years later, after the Normans invaded and brought their Franco-Scandinavian heritage (blonde hair, cr & egrave;me brulee, whatever). The place was a mess, and absolutely brimming with everything people crave (wars, hero worship, and that marry-the-ugly-nobleman-for-money, have-sex-with-hot-man-vassal-for-fun theme).

Take this new thing, Tristan and Isolde. I'm ecstatic about it. I talked with Dean Georgaris (screenwriter, worth 10 of you morons) and he said the thing basically wrote itself. Tristan's uncle and rival for Isolde's hand, Lord Marke, was apparently a real person from Cornwall, so Georgaris set the film there.

Beyond that, though, all he had were these conflicting oral traditions. So he picked the ones that were the most Hollywood. In one, Tristan is a fatty, but no one likes fat people, so he nixed it. In another, Tristan slays a dragon, but that's too LOTR. In most of them, he's a member of the Round Table, but we all know how King Arthur's been doing at the box office lately (craptastic), so Georgaris kept that out, too. What remained was a tragic love story that's stood the test of, like, 15 centuries or whatever, while still being highly marketable.

Granted, James Franco can't act worth a crap and what I'm told are Rufus Sewell's considerable acting chops are totally wasted, but that's not what we're here for, is it? If you're going to drag people through the Dark Ages, it had better be the one they recognize (Prince of Thieves, Knight's Tale, etc.). T & amp;I does all those things. It's safe, it panders, it's got a kick-ass, timeless storyline, good battle scenes and incredibly childish dialogue. Toddlers will understand this movie, no problem. Toddlers buy tickets, people! The only problem is that Lord Marke is too damn nice about his nephew sleeping with his wife, but people die tragically.

So as you search for your next project, continue to dig through old legends and pitch those you feel are the most Hollywood-ready. (Bonus points for tragic, Shakespearian-ish elements!)

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