A strong-willed young peasant girl becomes the affection of two men.

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Won 3 Oscars. Another 12 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Collin ...
Tony Church ...
...
Tess (as Nastassia Kinski)
Brigid Erin Bates ...
Girl in meadow
Jeanne Biras ...
Girl in meadow
...
John Bett ...
...
Rosemary Martin ...
Geraldine Arzul ...
Child
Stephanie Treille ...
Child
Elodie Warnod ...
Child
Ben Reeks ...
Child
Jack Stephens ...
Man in Tavern
...
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Storyline

Wessex County, England during the Victorian era. Christian values dominate what are social mores. These mores and her interactions with two men play a large part in what happens in the young life of peasant girl, the shy, innocent, proper yet proud Tess Durbeyfield. The first of these men is Alec d'Urberville. After learning from a local historian that they are really descendants of the aristocratic d'Urberville family which has died out due to lack of male heirs, Tess' parents send her to a nearby mansion where they know some d'Urbervilles actually reside. This move is in order for the family to gain some benefit from their heritage. Upon her arrival at the mansion, Tess quickly learns that the family of Tess' "cousin" Alec are not true d'Urbervilles, but rather an opportunistic lot who bought the family name in order to improve their own standing in life. Tess is pulled between what she was sent to accomplish for her family against her general disdain for Alec, who will give her ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

She was a poor man's daughter, an aristocrat's mistress and a gentleman's wife. She was Tess, a victim of her own provocative beauty. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

12 December 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Egy tiszta nő  »

Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD) | (re-issue) | (original)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As director Roman Polanski was unable to travel to England because of its extradition laws with the US, Wessex had to be recreated in France, including an exact replica of Stonehenge. See more »

Goofs

At the beginning of the final sequence, set at Stonehenge, someone's head can be seen at bottom-left. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
John Durbeyfield: Good night, t'ee.
Parson Tringham: Good night, Sir John.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Making of... 'Lifeforce' (1985) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Tess (1979)
23 December 2006 | by (Olympia, WA) – See all my reviews

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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