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Kristin Scott Thomas,
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
Director of Photography Geoffrey Unsworth died of a heart attack during the third week of shooting at the end of October 1978. Most of the film's scenes shot by him were exteriors in the first half of the movie and can be noticed by some fog and slight diffusion. Ghislain Cloquet shot the second half and the remaining of the movie with most of his scenes in interiors with no diffusion. Rumor has that among the scenes shot by Unsworth before his death were:
1) The foggy day-to-night seduction in the woods
2) The tent and the strawberries when Tess is in the D'Uberville mansion.
Roman Polanksi's Tess gets better and better with age.
The mists...the sounds of footsteps on the dirt roads... the ambling horse... the elflike man that appears at the Cross in Hands, Tess' walk to her Inlaws church, The dripping water, The taking of the boots, the misplaced letter, the milk run, the puddle in the road, the dripping milk pouches, The strawberry, the blood stain, The burial, Stonehenge...Everything is beautifully shot. It lingers in the mind long after viewing. Geoffrey Unsworth's final cinematographic film. Thank you for all your beautiful work.
It is neither pretentious nor bold.
Mesmerizing! The musical composition is charging.
Nastassja Kinski's plays the title character. She reacts so well. Her beauty in a time of such oppression and depression would be an ill fate. Tess knows this fate and she wishes she was never born. She is the sacrifice of a paradigm. Victorian era was finished. Edwardian Enlightenment would soon come but not for Tess, the sacrificial pure beauty.
Thomas Hardy created a pure woman in Tess. That is why her plight is so tragic. She possesses a strong spirit that is oppressed by the male political and religious world around her.
The opening shot is well directed in the morning sunrise as fair maidens dance with one another. Tess' oversight by Angel begins this tragic tale. "As Flies to wanton boys, are we to the Gods, they kill us for their sport."
Tess, Thomas Hardy
Do not take your eyes off of it. It is beautifully told!
Victor Nunnally, BFA Dramatic and Film Theory and History, AA Performing Experience.
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