75 user 64 critic

Tess (1979)

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



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Won 3 Oscars. Another 13 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »


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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 ...
Felix Clare
Cuthbert Clare
Rosemary Martin ...
Geraldine Arzul ...
Stephanie Treille ...
Elodie Warnod ...
Ben Reeks ...
Jack Stephens ...
Man in Tavern


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


Columbia Pictures is proud to present a film by Roman Polanski, based on the classic Thomas Hardy novel. 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)

Gross USA:

$20,093,330, 31 December 1981
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The melody that Angel plays on the recorder is a popular Polish folk song, "Laura i Filon". Since it is rather unlikely that a 19th century Englishman would know this tune, it is safe to assume that this is something that Polanski (of Polish descent) used the tune as a "trademark" of sorts. 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 »

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User Reviews

Good not great version of a difficult to adapt novel
12 October 2013 | by See all my reviews

Beautiful to look at, not just the scenery but the art direction as well but overlong and somewhat ponderous. Nastassja Kinski handles the complex lead role with surety and exudes a great deal of charisma and star quality, it's surprising that her career fizzled out so completely but as she matured those qualities in evidence here diminished. Director Polanski's silent tribute to his late wife Sharon Tate at the end of the opening credits with a simple "To Sharon" after his credit is quite moving. She had left the Hardy novel with a note that she thought he would make a fine film of it when she headed back to the states just before her death.

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