29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Sumptuous and faithful adaptation,
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This review is from: Tess [VHS]  (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.