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.