A mute woman along with her young daughter, and her prized piano, are sent to 1850s New Zealand for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner, and she's soon lusted after by a local worker on the plantation.
In the Victorian period, a rural clergyman tells John Durbeyfield, a simple farmer, that he is descended from the illustrious d'Urberville family -- now extinct. Or maybe not. Durbeyfield sends his daughter Tess to check on a family named d'Uberville living in a manor house less than a day's carriage ride away. Alec d'Urberville is delighted to meet his beautiful "cousin" and seduces her with strawberries and roses. Actually, Alec has gotten his illustrious name and coat of arms by purchasing them. Tess also takes up the game of illusion when she finds, loses and finds again her true love Angel Claire. Written by
Dale O'Connor <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I just viewed the DVD edition of TESS; I loved the Commentaries. TESS is a stunningly beautiful work of art. Thank God for the talent, vision and perseverance of Roman Polanski, his cast, crew and backers.
Given Polanski's celebrated appetite for young girls, I was not surprised that he portrayed the swinish Alex Stokes/D'Urberville in an almost sympathetic light. 17 Year-old Natassia Kinski is imbued with a luminous, almost unearthly beauty, even in the darkest of scenes. No wonder Polanski couldn't keep his hands off her. This film offers us a glance back in time to a long-gone pastoral life and the parochial intolerance of its people and their leaders. All faced the changes wrought by the juggernaut Industrial Revolution.
Long ago, while still in college, I was influenced against Hardy by W. Somerset Maugham's petulant, whining novel, CAKES AND ALE, with its veiled references to Hardy as a pedestrian writer with little artistic merit. Was I surprised when, in 1962, I got around to reading TESS! I was struck by its narrative and descriptive power and its still relevant social commentary. TESS filled me with outrage over the injustice meted out to a spirited, yet simple farm girl, whose main fault was being too beautiful. Following that enlightenment, I read just about everything Hardy has written.
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