Tess (1979)

PG  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  12 December 1980 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.3/10 from 10,394 users  
Reviews: 69 user | 63 critic

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



(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

Won 3 Oscars. Another 12 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A political activist is convinced that her guest is a man who once tortured her for the government.

Director: Roman Polanski
Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Stuart Wilson
The Tenant (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A bureaucrat rents a Paris apartment where he finds himself drawn into a rabbit hole of dangerous paranoia.

Director: Roman Polanski
Stars: Roman Polanski, Isabelle Adjani, Melvyn Douglas
Comedy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A noted professor and his dim-witted apprentice fall prey to their inquiring vampires, while on the trail of the ominous damsel in distress.

Director: Roman Polanski
Stars: Jack MacGowran, Roman Polanski, Alfie Bass
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A young journalist (Lespert) helps the French President compile his memoirs.

Director: Robert Guédiguian
Stars: Michel Bouquet, Jalil Lespert, Philippe Fretun
Uranus (1990)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

After World War II, a small French village struggles to put the war behind as the controlling Communist Party tries to flush out Petain loyalists. The local bar owner, a simple man who ... See full summary »

Director: Claude Berri
Stars: Philippe Noiret, Gérard Depardieu, Michel Blanc
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

The wife of photographer J.A. Martin decides to go with him in his tour of the hard Canadian countryside at the turn of the century. She hopes the intimacy will revive their marriage.

Director: Jean Beaudin
Stars: Marcel Sabourin, Monique Mercure, Marthe Thierry
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A woman imbued with naturalistic and libertarian theories leaves her city home to live in the countryside with her young son. There she meets a litigious farmer who fights against the banks... See full summary »

Director: Gilles Carle
Stars: Micheline Lanctôt, Donald Pilon, Reynald Bouchard
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Marcel, recently released from prison, attempt to rebuild his relationship with his girlfriend Julie (now a prostitute) and especially his father Albert (who thinks he's been away on a long... See full summary »

Director: Jean-Claude Lauzon
Stars: Gilles Maheu, Roger Lebel, Corrado Mastropasqua
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

After another cardiac arrest, Armand knows he doesn't have long to live. But after more than 70 years in the same house, he doesn't want to die anywhere else. His wife, Rose, has secretly ... See full summary »

Director: Jean Pierre Lefebvre
Stars: Marthe Nadeau, J. Léo Gagnon, Marcel Sabourin
Mon amie Max (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Catherine, a concert pianist, is surprised one night by the arrival of her best friend from childhood, Marie-Alexandrine (Max), whom she hasn't seen for 25 years. Catherine and Max were ... See full summary »

Director: Michel Brault
Stars: Geneviève Bujold, Marthe Keller, Johanne McKay
The Novena (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Director: Bernard Émond
Stars: Elise Guilbault, Patrick Drolet, Marie-Josée Bastien
Trotta (1971)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Director: Johannes Schaaf
Stars: András Bálint, Rosemarie Fendel, Doris Kunstmann


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 ...
Stephanie Treille ...
Elodie Warnod ...
Ben Reeks ...
Jack Stephens ...
Man in Tavern
Leigh Lawson ...


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


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 »


Drama | Romance


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

12 December 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Egy tiszta nő  »

Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


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

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Though this film is set in Dorset, England, it was actually filmed in France. Set in England but filmed in France, director Roman Polanski was wanted on sex-related charges in the United States of America and could have been extradited to the USA from England. See more »


At 4:21, camera shadow on Durbeyfield's back. This shadow extends entirely across the path. At 4:44, as the parson and Durbeyfield talk, the shadow is gone. See more »


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


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

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

She's Sleeping. Just A Little Longer
26 April 2012 | by (Fraggle Rock) – See all my reviews

Polanski's 'Tess' is rich with images and poetry. To start with, the director really does make use of the countryside and life in the country during the late 1800s. Those themes are presented as characters themselves. And, coupled with the fitting score it gives a feel of what the time may have been like. Along with some fine cinematography, many of the shots linger on the beautiful and yet sad countryside.

The pacing is exceptionally well maintained. 'Tess' is longer than the traditional 100 minute flick but not for a moment does it feel as though it's lagging or dragging in pace.

Another strength of the film is its subtlety. For example, to the director's credit, there's an outstanding sequence of how murder is implied just with a few drops of blood. Even the finally sequence (beautifully done) implies Tess's fate (before the epilogue clarifies it). 'Tess' touches on some heavy themes such as sexism, poverty and betrayal but it doesn't preach about them. Rather it tells the story of a strong-willed, devoted and kind woman who was faulted for being beautiful.

Moreover, the characters are brilliantly layered. The screenplay has safely avoided caricatures). A very young Nastassja Kinski is incredible in one of her early roles. Her restrained performance and gestural expressions are remarkable. Peter Firth does a fine job too. They are supported by very good performers.

This is easily one of Polanski's finest: his most subtle and poetic films. A treat to watch.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
what were they harvesting? asoloway
Kinski = addicting to look at but Flat performance!! trulinotanother
Some resemblance of Nastassja Kinski to Ingrid Bergman ajimenezp
What Happened To Angel? vghb95a
sex scene? ownerbluesky
modern version bornwriter17
Discuss Tess (1979) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: