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"Tess of the D'Urbervilles"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"Tess of the D'Urbervilles" More at IMDbPro »

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25 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

An excellent re-interpretation

10/10
Author: Paul Evans from Swansea, United Kingdom
14 September 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've just finished watching the first part of this and totally enjoyed it, the girl playing Tess was utterly utterly wonderful, what a brilliant piece of casting there. I could not believe that Nessa was her mum ha. I adore period/costume dramas but was unfamiliar with this story, started off as they always do, nice and slow and enjoyable, then came the twist when Tess gets raped and the darker side of this drama begins to come through, I know i've only seen the first part, but I hope and i'm sure that the rest of this serial will continue in the same fantastic form as part 1. Wish I knew how good previous versions of this were, but I shan't watch until i've seen the end of this Utterly brilliant so far :-)

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23 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Perfect Hardy atmosphere

10/10
Author: whistlestop from Ireland
5 October 2008

I have just finished watching the final part of this wonderful series and I have to say I was very impressed. I studied Thomas Hardy's works for my A-level exams back in 1980 (ouch) and I enjoyed them all, but Tess was my favourite. So beautiful and so sad. Beautiful in the characters, wonderfully realised for the time. Tess especially, a child to whom things happen, things beyond her understanding or control, and who is swept along by the tide of events bewildered but still strong and true herself and her morals - yes, even at the end. (I don't want to say anything that may constitute a spoiler for those who haven't read/seen it, although it seems unlikely now.) I thought Gemma Arterton was perfect for the role and if this were a film she should have been nominated for an Oscar. I've been a fan of hers since her performance in St Trinian's ( a very different role!) and look forward to seeing her in Quantum of Solace, she should go far. I wasn't so sure about the two male leads, not that either character is very likable in my eyes, but I think they did an adequate job. This 4-part series Clings closely to the original text and also brings in Hardy's speciality, the use of weather and atmosphere to set the mood of the scene; very evocative. I hope it will be screened again, and I'll buy the DVD when I can.

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14 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

"The Snow It Melts The Soonest . . . . . . ."

8/10
Author: Noirdame79 from Canada
25 October 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

That haunting song has been stuck in my head ever since I saw this four-part BBC miniseries. It was a stroke of genius to incorporate this folk tune into the soundtrack (composed by Rob Lane), which sums up the mood and aura of this tragic tale of a young woman wronged so unjustly by two men. Gemma Arterton is wonderful as Tess Durbeyfield, probably Thomas Hardy's most well-loved heroine, exploited by her ignorant parents into claiming noble heritage and discarded by 19th century society. Hans Matheson is Alec Stoke-d'Urberville, the wealthy cad who violates her, unknowingly impregnates her with a child who doesn't survive babyhood and later comes back into her life as a supposedly reformed preacher. Eddie Redmayne is Angel Clare, the seemingly kind-hearted and tolerant parson's son who wins Tess's love but proves to be just as hypocritical as his religious family and his actions bring Tess to despair. As in most Hardy tales, tragedy looms a large shadow over the lives of his characters.

Arterton's Tess is matched perfectly by Matheson's Alec, who is given more depth than any of the earlier film adaptations. The dark and tormented essence gives you the sense how doomed these two characters really are - their actions and words toward each other leads to their downfall. Unfortunately, the same cannot be applied to Redmayne's Angel, who looks befuddled and lost more than half the time. There is a rushed directorial pace in the second installment that hurts the romantic appeal between Tess and Angel, and the love story element seems a bit forced as a result. Because of that, I didn't get the appeal of Angel in this one, or why Tess and her fellow dairymaids were in love with him, or why Tess takes the desperate course of action in order to get him back. Some of the modern dialogue used did take away from the affect of the story, and Redmayne seemed to have a hard time keeping up with Arterton performance-wise. Redmayne redeemed himself somewhat in the final episode but for the most part I was unimpressed with him. However, director David Blair must take some of the criticism, as the hurried scenes to establish the "romance" seemed to skim over the parts of the novel that gave the lovers the attachment to one another that eventually leads Angel to see the error of his ways and beg his wife's forgiveness. I was anticipating Alec's return so much that I found myself not really caring if Angel came back for Tess or not. In sharp contrast, the 1998 A&E/London Weekend Television production had me rooting for Tess and Angel's reunion even though I was aware of the outcome. I was so taken by Angel in that one, whereas here I found nothing in him to be slightly attractive or romantic. I sympathized with Tess completely and neither man deserved her, but at least in the other version and the novel I could see why she loved Angel and longed for him to return to her. I found myself almost rooting for Alec (I never thought I'd say that), because Matheson was so compelling and magnetic and he and Arterton generated such electricity, I couldn't take my eyes off them. Alec's fleeting conversion to Christianity and his sermon in the tent that Tess stumbles upon is foreshadowing of the path these two ill-fated characters will end up on. The moment he lays eyes on her again, his fatal attraction and twisted love for her resurfaces and consumes him, and Tess finds herself increasingly helpless to refuse his help after her father dies and her family is left destitute. Alec's wealth is the only way he can possess her and he is aware of that, but he is willing to get her the only way he can, only to discover that fate does indeed play a vengeful hand. It was also nice to see Tess revisiting her child's grave and placing fresh flowers upon it; her deeply felt sense of loss and rejection by both the church and her village is searingly devastating because it becomes all the more clear that she is victim of both society (in which women had few advantages) and fate. Having said that, Tess and Angel's reunion did not have the emotional impact it should have had, the sex scene was unnecessary, but the Stonehedge sequence was an emotional powerhouse for Arterton, as was the climax of her walking off to her fate with her signature tune heard wistfully in the background. The supporting cast was in top form, and while the cinematography was lovely, it could have emphasized far more considering how important landscape is in Hardy's work, as both the 1998 two part program and Roman Polanski's 1979 film have demonstrated. As a four-part miniseries, it had the opportunity to include more scenes from the novel and insight into character, particularly Angel, which would have helped the plot a great deal. However, it was good to see the mausoleum scene and the ending was heartbreaking and moving, although my tears were for Tess, her sister Liza-Lu, and, dare I say it, even Alec, but I felt nothing for Angel (although Redmayne's tearful breakdown was by far his best moment).

On the whole, this was a very good presentation, my second favorite version and very much worth seeing. Arterton and Matheson give tour-de-force portrayals; it would be great if they would co-star again, some have suggested as Cathy and Heathcliff in "Wuthering Heights" - I could definitely see that. And that song will linger on in your memory long after the final credits have rolled, as will the rest of the score.

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16 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Good adaptation

7/10
Author: jhsteel from London, England
6 October 2008

This is the first BBC dramatisation of this wonderful novel by Thomas Hardy, which I have read several times. I first knew it from the Roman Polanski film which has a different approach to casting - Tess was played by Nastassja Kinski who was more obviously sexual in her appearance, and Angel Clare was Peter Firth, who to me had more charisma than Eddie Redmayne. I loved that film and it was very upsetting to watch, when I was in my teens. Now I'm older and wiser, but Tess's story is so tragic that it still has enormous sadness. I felt that the protagonists in this version were more believable as young people living in a rural community, but the romance between Tess and Angel was not very convincing. Angel was well represented as a weak man who makes bad decisions, but he could have been more attractive, to persuade me that all the milkmaids were in love with him. So on the whole, although the story was told in faithful detail and well done, it didn't excite me in the way I expected. I always have sympathy for Tess as a character - whether or not she was technically raped is open to interpretation, but the main facts are that she was an innocent girl who was preyed upon by one man and let down by another. However, to be a tragic heroine, she possesses character flaws that allow her to succumb to the events that overcome her. It is a sad story that has relevance still, and it is a good introduction for viewers who have never read the wonderful book.

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant adaptation of a brilliant book

10/10
Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
6 June 2010

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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15 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Like the second act of Les Miserables in two minutes

10/10
Author: Xanthe Young from United Kingdom
9 October 2008

As much as I fell in love with this 'mini TV series' after the first few minutes, and as much as I love writing reviews on here I was determined I wouldn't write anything until I'd seen all of it, I was right to do so.

I admit, I haven't read the book, I probably will now though, so maybe it isn't fair for me to say ti's a good adaption, maybe the book is better I honestly don't know but it feels like it's been well adapted.

Certainly in terms of acting performances, editing, mise-en-scene and the like it's excellent. I was completely taken with the look of it the moment the opening credits started, maybe it's just because I love period films and series' in general but there was something about the look of it that was just pleasing to the eye. The costumes arn't particularly realistic, in one scene Tess wears an in-probably rich shade of red but i don't care, it's all artistic license as far as I'm concerned. And lets face it, the BBC don't exactly have a reputation for realism what with the cast of Robin Hood all looking like they'd all previously been part of a boy-band, but this was better.

Going back to acting performance's I say perfectly honestly they are some of the finest I've ever seen. Say what you like but i think the girl who plays Tess is excellent, maybe the accent is a little exaggerated but her conveyal of the emotions makes the character compelling and it can't be an easy part to play. Both Angel (I hate his name too) and Alec are excellently portrayed as well, particularly Angel in the last few scenes (you almost like him, despite how annoyingly nice he is) but also the supporting characters Rettie is moving in her patheticness and their Groby is too creepy for words, he literally sends a shiver down your spine.

As for conveying the story, I don't see how it could have been done better. I don't want to spoil the ending for anyone but I will say, have a box of tissues next to you, it was sadder than Steven Speilbergs 'A.I.: Atificial Intelligence' it was like the second act of Les Miserables, the same amount of tears (and thats a lot, an hour and a half of tears streaming down your face) compacted into two minutes. The stupidest thing was I watched it on BBC i-player so it ended with a message popping up saying 'I hope you enjoyed this programme' well not enjoyed as such, but I'm glad i watched it.

It'd going on my Christmas wish list right now.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Very fine production and a showcase for a perfect Tess.

10/10
Author: nevandsue from london
9 October 2010

What a really good production this is. Technically perfect and an excellent cast. Gemma Arterton is a super actress and for me this is the best performance of her career so far. If he could, I'm certain that Hardy would agree! Her newest release "Tamara Drewe" is taken from the Simmons comic strip which in turn was inspired by Hardy's "Far From The Madding Crowd". I read that a new version of "Crowd" is in the works - if they don't have Arterton as Bathsheba Everdene they are making a serious error in my opinion. She was born to play that role. I see that one of the reviews here is personally insulting to the actress. For shame!

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

its about time!

10/10
Author: melly47-1 from United Kingdom
1 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

At last! This should have broad casted long ago. Why on earth did producers wait ten years to do another adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'urbervilles?! Well, I suppose it was worth while, after all, this was fantastic! Gemma Areton is the best actress we've had on T.V. in years, her wonderful performance had me choked up for over a week! I'm telling you, one day that performance is going to make history! Every episode there seemed to be a reason for a hankie. All the other cast were great as well. I've fallen in love with this series. I liked the scenery in this too. Its one of my favourite novels, but I confess, I'd rather watch it than read it. Its not as long anyway! Again, I loved this!

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

An excellent production which draws you in

9/10
Author: Catherine Mottram from UK
6 October 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I didn't want to watch the BBC's new Tess. I read the book about 10 years ago, after watching the ITV version, so knew the tragic end. Hardy can be so depressing so I wanted to avoid this. However, I was completely and utterly drawn in by the performances of Gemma Arterton as Tess and Eddie Redmayne as Angel Clare. They gave very impressive and believable performances which made the story even more tragic - this production made me more angry at Victorian hypocrisy than I did when I read the book. I think their youth was also an advantage considering they were playing characters who are approximately the same age as they are - I think the 1998 ITV version was let down as their Angel Clare seemed so much older. Overall a fantastic production - just a shame the story is to totally and utterly gutting. Watch it with a loved one and a big box of tissues.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Very Interesting, Very Harsh

9/10
Author: brown-faith922 from New Jersey
7 July 2013

I am going to be frank, without giving too much away: if you're looking for a happy, light-hearted love story, look elsewhere! That said, however, this movie is very interesting. It is, for the most part, well acted, and contains some extremely thought-provoking material. Particularly the events at the beginning of the second episode... you will understand my meaning once you have watched. It is so interesting, and often heart-breaking, to see these issues handled in society in this time period - to see the reticence and misery that must be endured. I found myself constantly wondering who was right, and who was wrong, or if anyone in the film could really be considered right or wrong. And by which standards? This is not the typical BBC love story where we love the heroes, admire their virtues, and despise the villains, while secretly amused by them. I personally found myself disliking each character very much at at least one point in the film. These characters are very real people. Each one is flawed, and each one knows it too. This makes for a remarkably interesting tale, that kept me riveted from the very beginning.

With all that said, it is exceedingly dramatic... a little overly so at times. And it is harsh... very harsh. and very raw. So yes, do watch it, but do not expect it to be a sweet, witty love story. You may expect, however, to be very impressed. After all it made me cry, and I very rarely cry in movies!

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