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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sumptuous, exquisite and achingly beautiful
I first saw this film at Easter 1987, I was studying the novel for 'A' level. Over twenty years later, I can see so much more in it. First the strength and pain of Tess, and what a sublime literary heroine she is. At 18 you don't realise how tough and painful life can be, but by middle-age you can appreciate how betrayals and disappointments come about. Tess faces some...
Published on 16 July 2008 by William Cohen

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Polanski's Tess of the D'Urbevilles
Notwithstanding the fact that many reviewers have given this film five stars, I have to say that I found this much touted production disappointing. True, Nastassja Kinski is a ravishing beauty, as one reviewer points out, but, whether or not she is a fine actress overall, this role, surely was never meant for her. She pouts her way through the story with as little feeling...
Published 12 months ago by S. H. Smith


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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sumptuous, exquisite and achingly beautiful, 16 July 2008
By 
William Cohen (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tess [DVD] (DVD)
I first saw this film at Easter 1987, I was studying the novel for 'A' level. Over twenty years later, I can see so much more in it. First the strength and pain of Tess, and what a sublime literary heroine she is. At 18 you don't realise how tough and painful life can be, but by middle-age you can appreciate how betrayals and disappointments come about. Tess faces some terrible blows.

Nastassja Kinski is one of the most beautiful creatures you've ever seen on film, and the costumes in this film are out of this world. After watching this the first time, I proposed a debate in school, "This House believes that Nastassja Kinski should become Head of Modern Languages." As part of my case I got the video and showed the strawberry scene, which has to be one of the most erotic in cinema.

The film lasts for three hours, and I watched it over three sessions. It brought back that profoundly sad English vision of the world so particular to Thomas Hardy. Polanski adds his own creepiness in parts and he evokes village life in flux. I'm usually bored by costume-drama adaptations, but this film has utterly beguiled me this week.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally replaced my antiquated video!!!!, 26 Jan. 2006
This review is from: Tess [DVD] [1981] (DVD)
I've bought it on DVD at long last! Brilliant quality etc! A real treat!
I originally watched it on video when my mum studied for her degree years ago. Then years later when I studied for mine I then bought it.
It is such an atmospheric, emotional film. I loved it, but how I've cried at the end of it! The injustice!
At university, it was always Alec D'Urberville, the villain! Quite frankly, I think that Angel Clare was worse! Mr Pious, who claimed to love her, yet is unhappy because she's "impure." Get your priorities right man! This is probably easy for me to say with a 21st century perspective rather than a nineteenth one! At least Alec seems to want to make up for his awful behaviour. Angel Clare? A waste of space!
A very heart wrenching film, and controversial like the book? Was Tess's beauty really the cause of her downfall? Alec D'Urberville? Tess's father for forcing the alliance with the rich family who turned out not to be genuine descendants of the D'Urbervilles anyway? Watch the film and make up your own mind!
This book, and film created great debates at uni and at school (A level). The seduction scene is vague, but it also is in the book? Was this coincidence or a definite ploy by Thomas Hardy? This story really gets you thinking!
The photography is beautiful in the film, with contrasting colours and moods used to depict the relevant scenes in the novel. Light, sunny scenes alongside dark scenes are very symbolic.
The acting is brilliant, and Angel Clare annoying! A highly recommended film which sticks exactly to the plot in the Thomas Hardy novel. Fantastic and flawless!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and Haunting!, 11 Nov. 2008
By 
Lizzi S (Brentwood, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tess [DVD] (DVD)
When this film first came out I watched it, having been a fan of the book. It's been many years now, and I decided to buy it on DVD as I was inspired by the new BBC version.

Polanski has shot a truly beautiful version of Tess of The D'Urbervilles. Nastassia Kinski is stunning and so innocent as Tess. Angel is played by a very young Peter Firth (Harry in Spooks), and both portrayals are sensitive and believeable. The way it is shot shows Polanski's talent for cinematography and some scenes just take your breath away.

I do feel this film suffers because of it's length. The end comes too quickly and seems to be rushed. There's no doubt that this film is beautiful and haunting, but it is not emotional enough to make me cry.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sumptuous and faithful adaptation, 15 Sept. 2003
By 
N. S. Rushton (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tess [VHS] [1979] (VHS Tape)
Polanski's version of Hardy's novel is a cinemagraphic treat, and a deftly scripted screenplay. There are very few deviations from the plot of the book and there are frequent lines of dialogue lifted directly from the novel. Natassia Kinski plays Tess to perfection -- with a fatalistic melancholy and innocence that captures the character that Hardy invoked so decisively. She is also astoundingly beautiful without seeming to ever realise it, which is one of the causes her downfall. The filmic representation of Tess' life is wonderfully managed -- particularly good is the way the summer Tess spends working at the dairy farm and meeting Angel is portrayed in sumptuous golden light before things go pear-shaped and the scenes become mist-filled and mud-strewn as Tess lives out her unhappy life. Hardy was making a statement about the industrialisation of the countryside and the destruction of rural ways of life at the end of the nineteenth century. Polanski has managed to translate this from book to film in mesmerising fashion, mostly with the aid of visuals such as the ear-splitting, steam-driven machinery in use at the industrialised farm Tess is forced to work at after Angel leaves her. This compares to the slow-pace of rural life at Tess' home and at the dairy. The film's atmosphere and the characterisations are deep and rich, and is certainly the best film adaptation of a Hardy novel despite some stiff competition. Just one aside -- the film is dedicated to Polanski's murdered wife Sharon Tate.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST MOVIE EVER MADE, 19 Aug. 2004
By 
N. P. Judd (East Granby .Connecticut .) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tess [DVD] [1981] (DVD)
I went to see this movie at the Odeon Southampton , England , the week it came out . It changed my life and not only re introduced me to Thomas Hardy but also set a benchmark for production values that no movie has ever come close to .
There is true elegance in every frame and the movie has a soundtrack to die for .
You need to own this DVD . You really do .
Neville Judd
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reborn, 15 Jun. 2013
By 
WSH (NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tess (DVD & Blu-ray) [1979] (DVD)
The print for this reborn blu-ray issue of Tess is very good and the film comes back to life in widescreen. When it is was first released I remember there were dissenting voices among the critics for Nastassia Kinski's performance in the lead role. I cannot now imagine why: she is excellent, notwithstanding the Dorset accent overlaying her native German twang. The production is sumptuous, with top line photography (many a scene could make a work of art, and Polanski holds wide shots through the length of some scenes to use these images to best advantage), costume design, art direction and locations. Polanski directs with great precision, unfolding the tale with just the right rhythm. Characters like Tess and most especially Angel Clare are hard to bring to life for a modern audience, capturing their self-image and motivation. Polanski and the other scenario writers do better, I think, than any other filmed version. The significance of ancestry and antiquity, window dressing in some other productions, is solidly embedded in this telling. Hardy is a bit of a paradox. He was very modern for his day, but he strived for universality and he can seem old fashioned today (perhaps more so than, say, Jane Austen, who was writing long before him). I am not sure this film is quite in tune with Hardy, but it gets close and is absolutely wonderful to look at and contemplate.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Already available in Spain, 14 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Tess (DVD & Blu-ray) [1979] (DVD)
This film is already available on Blu-Ray from Spain, and will be released in France on December 5th. I note you have the running time as 180 minutes rather than 161 minutes. Does this mean that this is the uncut French version which was released in France in 1979 rather than the shortened British/American cut released two years later. Perhaps somebody from the BFI could clarify.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it but the original ending is better, 21 Nov. 2009
By 
Iain Shepherd (Brussels, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tess [DVD] (DVD)
I can't remember when I first saw it but I bought it for my 16-year old daughter who wasn't even born when it was made and who is studying it at school. She watched it last night. We both agree that the film is very good and that Nastassia Kinski is gorgeous. My daughter wasn't convinced by her accent but, as she was brought up in Belgium and Italy, she probably isn't familiar with the Dorset sound. We both agree that it was a shame for the film to end at the penultimate chapter of the book. The book's memorable last chapter should have been retained - even if it would have made a long film even longer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hardy Fan, 14 Nov. 2007
This review is from: Tess [DVD] [1981] (DVD)
I first saw Tess when it was originally produced in 1979 and was immediately impressed with not only the Polansky film but also Thomas Hardy,s writing.
I have since read all of his novels and poems and to my mind he is the best english author at setting scenes and describing the countryside and the harsh way of life that prevailed in the 19th and early 20th century.
This is a film that one can watch again and again and still be moved by the plight of Tess.
I would recommend this and all Hardy novels to everyone.
I know that he is perceived as a pessamist but you only have to see read Tess to see that the English way of life that she lived is gone forever, and only by Hardy,s novels will future generations be able to learn what life was like not that long ago.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Polanski's Tess of the D'Urbevilles, 15 April 2014
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This review is from: Tess (DVD & Blu-ray) [1979] (DVD)
Notwithstanding the fact that many reviewers have given this film five stars, I have to say that I found this much touted production disappointing. True, Nastassja Kinski is a ravishing beauty, as one reviewer points out, but, whether or not she is a fine actress overall, this role, surely was never meant for her. She pouts her way through the story with as little feeling as it is possible to have, and her speaking role is reduced to short, monosyllabic comments. Most of the time she doesn't react at all, whatever fate throws at her. And this is precisely the point. Fate throws a good deal at Tess, and in Hardy's novel she meets it with courage and passion. She fights her fate with feeling. In this film she seems to just allow it to roll over her. Perhaps the scriptwriter felt that Kinski's accent would be too off-putting if she was allowed to say too much. Certainly, Tess is supposed to be a sturdy Wessex country lass - a role of which Kinski is simply not capable. Both Justine Waddell and Gemma Arterton in the respective alternative versions are much more convincing in the role, with Waddell just shading it for me.

There are also important phases in the plot missing from this film, so that the impression is a series of tableaux or scenas rather than Hardy's continuous plot. For instance, no sooner has Tess arrived for a winter on the notorious upland farm than she is seen arriving at the home of Angel's parents some 20 miles away. Although this follows the sequence of Hardy's plot, so much is missing that without having first read the book, it is virtually impossibly to understand what Tess is doing there.

The final scenes, in which Angel and Tess meet at Sandbourne and Tess murders Alec, fall particularly flat. Here is supposed to be the climax of the story, full of passion and tension. Tess is supposed to have a blazing row with Alec, yet in this film all we get is a few moments of sobbing - it isn't even hysterical sobbing either, yet with Kinski this is about as passionate as it gets. Watch this scene in the Waddell version if you want to find out what Hardy was driving at.

It would be churlish to deny that there are some good points. The minor characters who play the country folk are generally quite convincing, and there is some evocative filming, particularly of the winter landscapes and the desperate conditions. The music score, too, is evocative and helps the film along. All in all, though, the production could have been so much better.
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Tess (DVD & Blu-ray) [1979]
Tess (DVD & Blu-ray) [1979] by Roman Polanski (DVD - 2013)
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