NEW SERIES! Flix Character Spotlight: Lord Marke in Tristan + Isolde

Welcome to a new FlixChatter series where I’ll feature a certain movie character every other week. You know how it’s like when you’re watching a movie starring a couple of famous actors, but the supporting actor ends up stealing every scene he’s in and by the end of the movie you care so much for his part than the main leads? Well, this series is dedicated to those actors, who refuse to let limited screen time impact the indelible factor of their performance!

Please note: this post may contain spoilers

Character Spotlight #1: Tristan + Isolde‘s Lord Marke

The dashing Roof as Lord Marke

I mentioned this role in my Birthday post for Rufus Sewell, and after a second viewing of the movie (thanks Prairiegirl!), my admiration for the Lord Marke‘s character is affirmed. Known by most in playing bad guys (The Illusionist, The Legend of Zorro, The Holiday), Sewell embodies the virtuous statesman with such grace and integrity.

Tristan + Isolde is said to have been the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Romeo Juliet, two lovers from warring nations thrown together by chance and fell in love. Set in the Dark Ages after the fall of the Roman Empire, the divided Britain faces Ireland as the all-powerful enemy who’s set to never them united. It was at one of the tribal meetings to unite the country that we first see the heroic and noble nature of Lord Marke, who selflessly saved young Tristan from danger, and lost his right hand in the process. Orphaned due to that brutal attack, Tristan was then taken in by Marke, who raised him as his own son.

Now, given it’s a love story between the star-crossed lovers, we’re supposed to care most about James Franco and Sophia Myles’ characters. Yet, as the story progresses, I find myself drawn to the wise and noble  — not to mention hot – leader with such deep, penetrating eyes. Sure, when you have a looker like Mr. Sewell, it’s obviously a given, but it’s the way he carries himself in the role that really gets me. I won’t go into too much detail, but you can easily guess that due to some political circumstance, Tristan unknowingly offered Isolde to Mark in the name of peace. So even though Isolde ends up marrying the King, it’s inevitable the young lovers would end up continuing their affair.

Lord Marke and his bride Isolde

As a woman, I feel for Isolde for having to marry one she does not love for the sake of political gain. But boy, it’s hard to feel sorry for her when you see the two of them alone in their bed chamber and witness just how tender and loving Marke was towards her [swoon] When I saw her crying I kept thinking, ‘what is your problem, woman?!‘ 🙂 In the commentary feature, writer Dean Georgaris explained how he and director Kevin Reynolds made sure that Marke is written as a good man, because it’s easy for the viewers to root for the young lovers if they had made him to be the bad guy. This way, the betrayal towards him is even more heartbreaking.

I love the bridge scene above when Marke lamented that perhaps Isolde had a lover – it’s clear he’s fallen hard for Isolde.  I can plainly see the guilt that ravages Tristan at the very moment.  and most viewers no doubt feel the same for even rooting for the unfaithful couple. There’s also the moment Marke confronted his wife in the jail cell. Right after Isolde tells him the truth about how she + Tristan were once lovers, the overwhelmed king falls silent, then turns around and leaves. It’s a devastating scene that seals my admiration for this character… and the immensely talented actor who portrays him so perfectly.

17 thoughts on “NEW SERIES! Flix Character Spotlight: Lord Marke in Tristan + Isolde

  1. PrairieGirl

    SPOLIER ALERT!!!
    OMG rtm, I couldn’t have said it any better. And there’s more… Lord Marke could have ravaged any kind of punishment on Tristan and Isolde after their affair became known to him and Ireland broke the peace because of it, but in the end he sets them free to continue being together. What mercy! And the Bridge scene where Lord Marke bares his soul to Tristan, well, let’s just say it was love at first sight with Rufus. He is truly an amazing actor.

    1. Thanks for lending me the dvd, Prairiegirl! I’m so glad I get to watch it again and be reminded of how much Rufus’ character is such a gem! Yes, he could’ve understandably punish both of them for betraying them. I mean, sure they’ve met before but what they did was still wrong. So yeah, that was a merciful decision he made, and he even forgave Tristan in the end… saying that it was all ‘in the past.’

      Yes, he is truly an amazing and mesmerizing actor. Can’t wait to see The Tourist’s trailer. Wonder what his role is in that one??

  2. I generally love Rufus Sewell, but this role was particularly stunning and impressive, since the character he was performing was so unique, so strong and warm at the same time, so wise and so calm, so powerful and so emotional. And the end truly is devastating …. It’s a kind of person you would like for your eternal friend.

    1. PrairieGirl

      Hi Dezmond, so nice to hear such glowing remarks about Rufus. Why he isn’t a really famous, really big star and leading man by now I’ll never know. But as long as he keeps us enamored with more roles to come (Tom Builder in Pillars of the Earth, Aurellio Zen in three upcoming Michael Dibdin novels, and yes, rtm, his enticing character in The Tourist), I’ll stay satisfied. And as for friends, yes, (and more) Amen!

      1. @rtm
        Ah, I didn’t even doubt you’d like getting friendly with Ruffy 🙂

        @Prairie Girl
        well, if you ask me the best (or the real) actors usually are underrated. RTM and I talked recently about Karl Urban and Patrick Wilson being shockingly underrated, and Rufus is definitely in that group as well. It’s the horrible injustice we all have to face every day 😦 PILLARS OF THE EARTH is this summer’s must-see TV series!

  3. I can’t say I saw Tristan and Isolde but I love the concept of this new series! Giving some spotlight to some of the supporting actors who get too little… genius!

  4. I haven’t seen Tristan and Isolde but as Rufus Sewell is an absolute legend I can totally see him stealing the show. He seems to do it in everything he’s in, not in a bad way, he’s jsut really watchable!

  5. M B Higgins

    Rufus Sewell is gorgeous, a fabulous actor, and totally HOT!
    His performances in “Tristan and Isolde” and “The Tourist” are wonderful, and I agree, why he is not a leading man escapes me. The casting directors are missing a sure thing. Whew, get me a fan!
    Another really gorgeous actor is Raoul Bova, also in “The Tourist” and in “Under the Tuscan Sun”. Whew, get me a fan, again!

    1. PrairieGirl

      Hi MB, HOT might be an understatement where Rufus is concerned! And if there was a hotter word than HOT, he’d be that too! (Maybe “scorching” is the one I’m looking for ;-O)

  6. M B Higgins

    Rufus Sewell has a small part in “The Tourist” but he is just as wonderful and gorgeous, all the same. I had just seen “Tristan and Isolde” a couple of nights before I watched “The Tourist” and he captivated me. I agree with Ze Blogger, I wasn’t nearly as concerned with the fate of Tristan (James Franco) as I was with that of Lord Marke. It is surprising that he hasn’t been a leading man more often – he’s so talented an he’s a hunk, what’s not to like?

    1. PrairieGirl

      Hi MB, nice to hear you kind words about my #1 actor. Anyone who’s ever seen Rufus (especially in Tristan and Isolde, where his superb acting ability struck me silly for the first time), even in his smallest roles (i.e., The Tourist) feels the same way – why he isn’t one the biggest leading men in movies is beyond me. A colleague of mine just saw T&I, but she didn’t like the ending because James France dies. Well, I’m afraid she just doesn’t get it yet. I totally agree with you that your sympathies are TOTALLY with Lord Marke, and not Tristan. If you haven’t checked out his total acting resume yet, search for him on IMDb, get whatever work of his you can and enjoy the RufFest!

      P.S. Check out my birthday tribute to him here on FlixChatter too: https://flixchatter.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/guest-post-the-joy-of-discovering-rufus-sewell-a-birthday-tribute/

  7. Pingback: A Birthday Tribute – 44 Reasons We Love Rufus Sewell |

  8. Pingback: Everybody’s Chattin + Question of the week: Supporting cast you wish got the lead role |

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