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Tess (1979) More at IMDbPro »

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Tess -- This multiple-Oscar-winning film by Roman Polanski is an exquisite, richly layered adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles. A strong-willed peasant girl is sent by her father to the estate of local aristocrats to capitalize on a rumor that their families are from the same line. This fateful visit launches an epic narrative of sex, class, betrayal, and revenge.


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Down 10% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Gérard Brach (screenplay) &
Roman Polanski (screenplay) ...
View company contact information for Tess on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
12 December 1980 (USA) See more »
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 »
A strong-willed young peasant girl becomes the affection of two men. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Won 3 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 12 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
She's Sleeping. Just A Little Longer See more (71 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)
John Collin ... John Durbeyfield
Tony Church ... Parson Tringham

Nastassja Kinski ... Tess (as Nastassia Kinski)
Brigid Erin Bates ... Girl in meadow
Jeanne Biras ... Girl in meadow

Peter Firth ... Angel Clare
John Bett ... Felix Clare

Tom Chadbon ... Cuthbert Clare
Rosemary Martin ... Mrs. Durbeyfield
Geraldine Arzul ... Child
Stephanie Treille ... Child
Elodie Warnod ... Child
Ben Reeks ... Child
Jack Stephens ... Man in Tavern
Leigh Lawson ... Alec d'Urberville

Lesley Dunlop ... Girl in henhouse
Maryline Even ... Girl in henhouse
Jean-Jacques Daubin ... Bailiff
Sylvia Coleridge ... Mrs. d'Urberville
Jacob Weizbluth ... Yokel at barn-dance (as Jacob Weisbluth)
Peter Benson ... Religious Fanatic
Jacques Mathou ... Harvester
Véronique Alain ... Harvester (as Veronique Alain)
Richard Pearson ... Vicar of Marlott
Fred Bryant ... Dairyman Crick
John Barrett ... Old dairy hand
Anne Tirard ... Old dairy hand (as Ann Tirard)
Carolyn Pickles ... Marian

Suzanna Hamilton ... Izz
Caroline Embling ... Retty
Josine Comellas ... Mrs. Crick

Arielle Dombasle ... Mercy Chant
David Markham ... Reverend Mr. Clare
Pascale de Boysson ... Mrs. Clare
Gordon Richardson ... Parson at wedding
Patsy Smart ... Housekeeper
Dicken Ashworth ... Farmer Groby
Jimmy Gardner ... Pedlar
Reg Dent ... Carter
John Gill ... Landlord
Forbes Collins ... New tenant
Keith Buckley ... Postman
John Moore ... Postman

Patsy Rowlands ... Landlady
Graham Weston ... Constable
Lina Roxa ... Caretaker

Directed by
Roman Polanski 
Writing credits
Gérard Brach (screenplay) &
Roman Polanski (screenplay) &
John Brownjohn (screenplay)

Thomas Hardy  novel "Tess of the d'Urbervilles"

Produced by
Claude Berri .... producer
Timothy Burrill .... co-producer
Pierre Grunstein .... executive producer
Jean-Pierre Rassam .... associate producer
Original Music by
Philippe Sarde 
Cinematography by
Ghislain Cloquet 
Geoffrey Unsworth 
Film Editing by
Alastair McIntyre 
Tom Priestley 
Casting by
Mary Selway 
Production Design by
Pierre Guffroy 
Art Direction by
Jack Stephens 
Costume Design by
Anthony Powell 
Makeup Department
Alain Bernard .... assistant hair stylist
Didier Lavergne .... makeup artist
Paul Le Marinel .... assistant makeup artist
Ludovic Paris .... hair stylist (as Marc Ludovic Paris)
Production Management
Alain Depardieu .... unit manager
Paul Maigret .... production manager
Tadek Zietara .... unit manager (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Hercules Bellville .... second unit director
Thierry Chabert .... first assistant director
Romain Goupil .... second assistant director
Hugues de Laugardière .... second assistant director (as Hugues De Laugardiere)
Art Department
Jean-Claude Bourdin .... assistant art director
Michel Damiens .... assistant art director
Marcel Laude .... property master
Pierre Lefait .... set dresser
Claude Moesching .... assistant art director
Albert Rajau .... assistant art director
Jean-Claude Sévenet .... set dresser (as Jean-Claude Sevenet)
Sound Department
Hervé de Luze .... sound editor
Maurice Gilbert .... dubbing mixer
Louis Gimel .... boom operator
Peter Horrocks .... sound editor
Jean-Pierre Lelong .... sound effects
Jean Nény .... dubbing mixer (as Jean Neny)
Alex Pront .... dubbing mixer
Robert Rietty .... post-synchronization (as Robert Rietti)
Jean-Pierre Ruh .... sound mixer
David Watts .... stereo sound consultant: Dolby
Visual Effects by
Frederic Moreau .... visual effects supervisor (uncredited)
Philippe Tourret .... restoration coordinator (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Eric Brach .... assistant camera
Jean Harnois .... camera operator
François Lauliac .... assistant camera
Jean-Claude Le Bras .... chief electrician
Bernard Prim .... still photographer
André Thiéry .... head grip (as Andre Thiery)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Caroline de Vivaise .... wardrober (as Caroline De Vivaise)
Joanna Johnston .... assistant costume designer
Thérèse Ripaud .... wardrobe supervisor (as Therese Ripaud)
Frederic Vieille .... wardrober
Editorial Department
Jeremy Hume .... assistant editor
Pierre Louis Lecoeur .... assistant editor
Jacqueline Mariani .... assistant editor
Arielle Noyer .... assistant editor
Location Management
Patrick Bordier .... location manager
Philippe Desmoulins .... location manager
Jérôme Jeannet .... location manager
Music Department
Peter Knight .... orchestrator
Carlo Savina .... conductor
Franklin Jones Jr. .... score recording engineer and score mix engineer (uncredited)
Transportation Department
Richard Booz .... unit driver (uncredited)
Other crew
Sylvette Baudrot .... continuity
Josée Bénabent-Loiseau .... publicist (as Josee Benabent)
Catherine Fleming .... voice teacher
Sue Lefton .... choreographer
François Nadal .... horse master
Jennifer Patrick .... dialogue coach
Andrea Potter .... researcher
Jeannie Stone .... production assistant
Colette Suder .... production accountant
Marguerite Théoule .... production assistant (as Marguerite Theoule)
Sharon Tate .... dedicatee (as Sharon)
Crew verified as complete

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
186 min | Argentina:150 min | France:170 min | 172 min (DVD) | West Germany:134 min (re-issue version) | West Germany:184 min (original version)
Color (Eastmancolor)
Aspect Ratio:
2.20 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) | Dolby (35 mm prints)
Argentina:16 | Australia:PG | Australia:NRC (original rating) | Brazil:14 | Canada:14 (Nova Scotia) | Finland:K-16 | France:U | Iceland:L | Peru:14 | Singapore:PG | South Korea:15 | Sweden:11 | UK:12 (DVD re-rating) (2013) | UK:12A (2012) (re-issue) | UK:PG (1987) | UK:A (1980) | USA:PG | West Germany:12 (w)

Did You Know?

This Roman Polanski film won the same amount of Academy Awards as his later movie The Pianist (2002) with both pictures winning three Oscars. Polanski's vision for Tess (1979) was for the film to reflect an ancient peasant culture, which he witnessed during the Second World War in Poland after escaping from the Kraków Ghetto, something which is the subject of The Pianist (2002).See more »
Boom mic visible: When Tess and Angel break in to the house when on the run, the mic boom pole is reflected in the door beside the broken glass panel Angel had just forced.See more »
[first lines]
John Durbeyfield:Good night, t'ee.
Parson Tringham:Good night, Sir John.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in 'Tess': From Novel to Screen (2004) (V)See more »


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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful.
She's Sleeping. Just A Little Longer, 26 April 2012
Author: Chrysanthepop from Fraggle Rock

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.

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Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for Tess (1979)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Some resemblance of Nastassja Kinski to Ingrid Bergman ajimenezp
Won the César (French Academy Award) for Best Picture in 1980 sakune2
What Happened To Angel? vghb95a
Kinski = addicting to look at but Flat performance!! trulinotanother
U.S. DVD Release Needs To Be Improved mpofarrell
New release: How's the transfer? shart265
See more »


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