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22 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

The visualization of Hardy's imagination

Author: Caledonia Twin #1 (a_spackman@hotmail.com) from E. Broadway, Manhattan
1 May 2001

If I may be so bold, I would say that this particular adaptation of Tess of the d'Urbervilles is just what Hardy had in mind when he wrote his masterpiece. However, it's difficult to put into words just why one production works so well. For me, one crucial ingredient was the music. The music in this production is emotive, a bit lively, innocently hedonistic, playful and lilting, but with a definite, bittersweet note illustrating the transient glory and ups and downs of Tess' too brief, and unfortunately, mostly tragic life. The beautiful Justine Waddell plays the role of Tess with great talent and simple dignity. In particular, I liked the scene in which she says there's no point learning about history only to discover that there have been countless other people like her in the past living through the same kind of drudgery. Oliver Milburn, who played Angel Clare, brings a new kind of skeptical optimism to the role not as apparent in Peter Firth's portrayal back in 1979. Milburn seems more angelic and innocent and innocuous in manner, posture, appearance, and in facial expression. He is open and appealing, very easily seducing the heart of Tess in spite of her reservations. His treatment of her when he has discovered her secret seems all the more callous and tragic for his previous admiration and light-hearted demeanor. But kudos must go to the directors and cinematographers of this production. From the opening scene of the maidens dancing in the field, the visual shots in this film are rich in beauty and light, at least when all is well. Even the drear scenes to come are depicted with absolute visual integrity and adhere faithfully to Hardy's vision and eloquent natural language. In particular, I like the fact that in this film, the last scene at Stonehenge has been more accurately portrayed from the book than in the previous version, 1979's "Tess". (Ie. the atheistic comments have not been censored out when Tess mourns with despair that Angel and she will never meet again.) All in all, this film is worth every moment watching. Not only are the dialogues delightful and the themes intriguing, but many will be captivated simply by the glorious scenery and by the beauty and demeure grace of Tess herself. My rating: 10/10

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Unforgettable

9/10
Author: Gary170459 from Derby, UK
27 April 2008

I first saw this as a 3 parter on UK ITV in 1998 and was bowled over by it - imho it's the best ever screen adaptation of any Thomas Hardy novel full stop. Over the years I've seen many films and TV plays adapted from his books many of them very good, but all of them way behind this outstanding LWT (RIP)/ A&E co-production.

Poor, pure and simple country girl gets buffeted by Fate between 2 wealthy men, one essentially bad and the other essentially good, and she nobly suffers all the emotional troubles they bring her. All of the phases of her life as delineated by Hardy are brought out in the screenplay by Ted Whitehead, who did an excellent job in condensing down a long complex novel into a mere 3 hours but still not losing anything of importance. The rosy photography is lovingly and befittingly Constable/Turneresque with so many gorgeous hues and colours of simple rustic scenes and is never rushed - Hardy would surely have approved! The anguished music reflects the emotions at all stages and complements the visual sumptuousness of it all. One very minor niggle was the sometimes sloppy sound dubbing - they presumably had to work to get the accents correct later in the studio. Jason Flemyng as Alec was suitably caddish and young Oliver Milburn was realistically idealistic. But excellent as this was in all departments Justine Waddell was still the best thing about this production: she fitted my idea of tragic Tess perfectly - was she Fated to play her? If you don't crack into a million pieces when she repeatedly whispers "It's too late" to Angel you're made of sterner stuff than me!

If you like Hardy's novels you shouldn't miss this, it's a beautiful, heartbreaking, haunting and vividly memorable version of the tragedy.

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16 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Brilliantly captured Hardy's purpose

10/10
Author: elvsted from Yorkshire, England
3 September 2002

I watched Tess on TV when it was first aired an I was totally blown away! I knew nothing about Thomas Hardy or the novel and was very impressed not only by the shocking story and plot twists but the sensitivity of the acting to the characters. All of the characters qualities and faults are portrayed in such a way that it is not so easy for the audience to judge Angel as good and Alec as bad. It is highly relevant to controversial issues in society today (as with many of Hardy's novels) and you should watch it with an open mind. Since watching, I have not only read the novel but most of Hardy's other novels. I would certainly recommend anyone who enjoyed this to read Hardy and other similar writers such as Wilkie Collins.

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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Pitch-perfect adaptation of the book.

10/10
Author: Heather (hbarbie1) from Kentucky, USA
10 May 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

**Contains few spoilers** I recently read Tess of the D'Urbervilles and fell in love with it. When I found out there was a movie I was overjoyed, especially because it was an A&E production. A&E does a magnificent job at creating the world and characters formally only created by the author. In the novel Thomas Hardy fills the pages with detail. Now everyone knows it's impossible to squeeze it all into a three hour movie, but A&E (as they've done before) pulls it off splendidly. The actor who portrays Tess (Justine Waddell- Natalie Wood Story) has all the charm and beauty I imagined when reading the book. In my opinion Waddell also had the best performance in the movie. But Tess of the D'Urbervilles has many other wonderful actors who aren't as well known as Waddell. Jason Flemyng adds a creepiness to his character Alec D'Urberville that could easily be overlooked. And my personal favorite is Oliver Milburn playing Tess's love interest Angel Clare. All the production elements, I have to say, are beautifully done. The sets and costumes helped tremendously when picturing Hardy's Wessex. This is a timeless story of love, scandal, and justice. I highly recommend the book and movie to everyone.

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14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Excellent film adaptation of a wonderful book

10/10
Author: Stars-9 from New York State
10 March 2001

After reading the book this movie was based on, I was excited to learn that A&E made a film version made. I absolutely loved the adaptation. It stayed pretty true to the novel, and it was wonderful to be able to visually see the setting Hardy was writing about, as well as the characters. The performances of the actors was extraordinary, and Tess in particular was compelling. If you are going to watch the video, be sure to set aside 3 hours at one time, because you will not even want to pause it just to refill the popcorn bowl!

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11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

An excellent and vivid master piece.

10/10
Author: SpaceDiva from Storm Lake, Iowa
5 December 1999

The imagery in this A&E movie is wonderful. I have not read the novel yet, but the movie is an awesome feminist romance/tragedy that addresses the double standards which were set upon women in the 1800's. The actress who plays Tess is talented and believable.

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant!

Author: Katherine from Washington, USA
8 June 2003

This movie was FANTASTIC. I haven't yet read the book, but this has incited me to do so. The characters were fascinating. Every one, even the evil ones. The story was great, all the things that happened greatly added to the suspense towards the end. DO NOT MISS THE END. The end is the best part. I waited a week to see the second half of this movie and it was well worth it.

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12 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

It is wonderful.

10/10
Author: wang wei (botticelli@citiz.net) from shanghai, china
3 October 2000

I have seen a lot of versions of Tess of the D'Urberwilles. This one is the best. It really give me a vivid imagination of english country. And the actor and actress are also very good(especially, Justine).

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

The best version of Tess of the D'Urbevilles

10/10
Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
7 November 2013

Though all three adaptations I've seen have been very good in their own way, the other two being the Polanski film and the Gemma Arterton mini-series, all three do a noble job adapting a literary classic. Of the three personal favourite and best has to go to this version, and while that it is the most faithful of the three to the book what is done on its own is even more remarkable. The locations are evocative and manage in being really beautiful and atmospheric. The photography matches those qualities with its richness, this is a really beautifully shot adaptation and of the three versions it is the most striking visually. The music adds a lot to the atmosphere too, a great mix of haunting and emotive, very well suited for the nature of the story and the impact of Tess' plight. The dialogue is intelligent and has the spirit of Hardy's writing with the vivid descriptions and his way of words, phrases and poetry. The story really packs a powerful impact and adapted in a way that doesn't make the telling of it feel too complicated. the ending is absolutely heart-breaking. The acting from the three leads is spot on. Justine Waddell is a Tess that we feel immediately feel sympathy for and Waddell also brings dignity to the character. Oliver Milburn's Angel Clare has a sense of optimism though he doesn't make him too one-dimensional, we still get a sense that Angel Clare is not as innocent as he seems. In contrast we have Jason Flemying who portrays Alec as a genuine sleaze and cad and in a malevolent way but there is still the sense that he did love Tess. All in all, brilliant and the best of the three adaptations personally seen of Tess of the D'Urbevilles, if there is a better version I've yet to see it and it has to be really amazing to beat this. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Memorable Movie

Author: stephanieford123 from United States
3 September 2004

This movie kept me enthralled from start to finish. I loved it so well, that I had to read the book afterwards. The actress (Tess) played her part so wonderfully and the emotions on her face were so moving. This movie is definitely one to see, but I recommend a box of Kleenex nearby.

I have always been a great fan of films written by the great authors of the past and wish that more were filmed. The Horatio Hornblower series is also very good and so is the newer Pride and Prejudice.

Sometimes they produce films that are set in the past and they are completely a waste of time to see because the actors and actresses do not try to convey the feelings and ideas of the era (it just seems like a modern story with the actors wearing period clothing). I wonder if anyone else ever feels the same way?

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