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In the late 19th century, Tess Durbeyfield is sent off to visit a rich cousin, Alec D'Urberville, when her parents learn that they are distantly related. Tess takes a disliking to the man and his attempts at seduction are rebuffed. Returning from a village party he forces himself on the innocent girl who eventually makes her way back to her parents' home. Ashamed and pregnant she seems destined to forever being marked a certain kind of woman. After the death of her child, she makes her way to a prosperous farm where, working as a milkmaid, she meets and eventually marries the handsome Angel Clare. On learning of her past however, he abandons her and with little choice and facing a life of extreme hardship, again falls into Alec's clutches and becomes a kept woman. Written by
There are two musical anachronisms. First, Angel plays an autoharp which was not invented until the 1880s in Germany, and would not have been an English folk instrument at the time of TESS. Secondly, the congregation is heard singing "How Great Thou Art," which was written in Swedish in 1885, but was not commonly known in English until Stuart Hine's translation (circa 1950). See more »
I read the book as part of my A2-Level English course, and then I saw the mini-series as both my English teacher and best friend recommended it highly. I loved the book, it is one of my favourite Thomas Hardy books, and probably the one I was devastated most by, and yes I have read Jude the Obscure. This mini-series is very evocative and just brilliant, like the book it is sad and it is emotionally devastating, as the book provides a pretty accurate depiction of what happened to servant girls who proved themselves unfaithful during the Victorian Era. The acting, period detail and writing are top-notch, and the mini-series sticks quite closely to the source material.
Visually Tess of the D'Urbervilles is very stunning. The photography is fluid, the scenery is wonderful, the costumes are wondrous and the settings are stunning. It was like coming out of a time-machine and finding yourselves in the middle of the actual Victorian Era itself. The music and sound effects really added to the atmosphere; the music especially is beautiful and haunting. The story I admit is not the easiest to get into at first, as I have said already and several others already it is devastating and sad, but it is truly effective and was told so well it did have the same emotional impact that the book had.
The direction is rock solid, and serves the actors and story well, while the writing is intelligent and avoids being clichéd. That just leaves the acting, Gemma Arterton is perfect as Tess, it is a completely different role to any other role she's played, and she conveys a sympathetic, poignant and innocent character to perfection- in the end I was hoping I would feel sorry for Tess as she goes through such a lot, and I did. Eddie Redmayne is not quite as good as Angel Clare, but he is very effective in his role, while Ruth Jones, Christopher Fairbank, Kenneth Cranham, Jodie Whittaker, Donald Sumpter et al. do superb support work, with honourable mention to Hans Matheson who was brilliant as Alec, both sympathetic and malevolent.
Overall, just a brilliant adaptation of a brilliant book. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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