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Tess (1979) (Blu-Ray)
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Germany released, Blu-Ray/Region A/B/C DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), English ( DTS-HD Master Audio ), German ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), German ( DTS-HD Master Audio ), German ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (1.78:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Interactive Menu, Scene Access, Trailer(s), SYNOPSIS: In Roman Polanski's adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Nastassja Kinski plays Tess, a poor British peasant girl sent to live with her distant and wealthy relatives, the D'Urbervilles. Though Tess' father had hoped that the girl would be permitted a portion of the D'Urberville riches, he is in for a major disappointment: Tess' new housemates are not D'Urbervilles at all, but a social-climbing family that has bought the name. Tess won three Oscars, including a 'Best Cinematography' statuette for the late Geoffrey Unsworth and his successor Ghislain Cloquet. The film also served to catapult Nastassja Kinski to stardom. SCREENED/AWARDED AT: BAFTA Awards, Cannes Film Festival, Ceasar Awards, Golden Globes, Oscar Academy Awards, ...Tess (1979) (Blu-Ray)
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The main flaw I would say is the choice of lead actor. I don’t think that Polanski was being as objective as he might have been in choosing Nastassia Kinski to play Tess. She is too “dreamy” and lacking energy and vitality, and the accent is a problem. Overall though ok.
I loved the details of rural life, also the visuals details and the sounds are subtly planted in.
There's lots of beautiful scenery, the picture has a nice yellow during the summer which turns into a slightly subdued blue tint as grey skies and troubled times arrive, there's a nice transition from summer to winter. The Blu ray is a really stunning transfer, the score works wonderfully in 5.1 audio, the dialogue is always clear and distinct. The film deserves praise too for its costume design, sets, location casting and soundtrack. The film is faithful to Hardy's novel and very little has been cut. Tess's hair seems to go from blond to brown as bleak times set in.
The film is about a wronged woman in rural 19th century England, she is blamed and outcast for something that wasn't her fault, the double standards of Victorian and Christianity morality judge her guilty though.
The story is set in rural Victorian England and centres on a young female protagonist and her troubled life. Tess is brought up in a large improvised household and she is a rather underprivileged though not unhappy girl. The condition of the family worsens when her father takes to drink and the family horse is killed in an accident. Tess is whisked off to make money for the family by working for a rich distant relation, her mother hopes marriage to a wealthy gentleman might be the answer to all their woes.
Tess’s character when we first meet her is very sweet and honest, both trustworthy and trusting. She is a good daughter to her parents and shares the responsibility of looking after her siblings as the eldest one. She’s a big girl, bewitchingly beautiful in a pure rustic kind of way. The ideal kind of femininity back then was for a lady to be small and slight, to wear elegant dresses and basically to stay indoors, Tess doesn’t conform to this model.
Tess quickly catches the attention of Alec D’Uuberville the rich young arrogant bad boy of the neighbourhood. Tess immediately feels uncomfortable in his company and especially with his unwelcome advances but she feels unable to leave while her family’s financial future depends on her. She lacks the skills or assertiveness to deal with him while Alec often insists he is only being playful and wouldn’t hurt her, he also spends time buying gifts, including a new horse for her family giving her confused feelings towards him and not wanting to appear ungrateful. In 21st vocabulary we might say the word grooming applies here when describing his behaviour. One night he finally gets her alone after they become lost in the woods on the way back from a party.
The next day Tess heads back to her family home in disgrace, she reprimands Alec for his cruel behaviour and Alec agrees with her that he is a bad man though he does offer to help her if she ever finds herself in need.
Tess confines herself to her childhood bedroom as whispers about her spread across the village, she draws into a state of isolation and depression as a result of what’s she’s been through and how people have judged her. Even in church the one place she ought to be free from judgement and scorn she feels everyone’s eyes on her and hears the whispering going on. The following summer she gives birth to a sickly baby who quickly dies. Tess has spends time recovering before leaving her family again to travel to a new village to look for work. This period marks a bright spot for her, she quickly befriends three milkmaids as well as impressing the farm owner with her hardwork and skills. The summer draws on and life seems idyllic on the farm. Love also appears on the horizon in the shape of a handsome affluent young man called Angel who first appeared near the beginning of the novel. All three milkmaids are also in love with him but it’s Tess who he grows closer too. In spite of his clerical upbringing Angel is a self-styled free thinker who rejects religious orthodoxy. Tess feels she has met somebody much more understanding that others and must decide whether she can tell him the truth about her past. Will he still be able to love her once she’s done so?
I have just bought the latest version of "FAR FROM THE MADDENING CROWD" by Hardy. It is wonderful to see it modernised and updated beautifully. I love his Books and have every version of all his Book adaptation into films.
I would like to see all of his Adaptations updated into the 21st Century. Like Far from the Maddening Crowd. All 5.1 sound & beautiful soundtracks, and new versions. He wrote so many books. Ye,s all tragedies but fine stories.
I recall reading TESS and crying all the way through it. I could not put it down. It has only been adapted twice. This version by the great Director "POLANSKI"AND A VERY GOOD MINI SERIES