Tess of the D'Urbervilles (2008– )
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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.
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
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.
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!
The social injustices, the criminality, the misfortunes, the stupidity, the callousness, the hatred, the misunderstanding, the selfishness, the vicious ego, the dreadful life... all of these negativity conjured up in me the constant mixed feelings of anger, desperation, depressed, frustration, sadness...
This is not entertainment, but rather a tortuous emotional provoking and roller coaster ride which unfolded screen by screen throughout the series in the worst sense of darkness and tragedy journey all the way to the last screen.
Good cast with fine acting job. Beautiful scenery and very appropriate color tones throughout. So, not all is lost.
Strongly recommended for people who enjoy seeing others suffer in a wretched and miserable life without happy ending. Stay away, otherwise.
Based on the Thomas Hardy Novel, Tess of the d'Urbervilles follows the life of young, beautiful, innocent Tess and the misfortune she faces. With unforgettable characters such as the young heroine, Alec and Angel, visually appealing landscapes and emotional intensity to soften even the toughest of critics, this film is a must-see and something you are unlikely to ever forget!
My complaint isn't with the way it was done it's with the author of the story. It was well produced I thought and I had no problem with the actors.
Our problem was just that the story was so depressing. My girlfriend was actually really shaken and upset after watching it. For myself I just found it very frustrating throughout. I was constantly finding myself frustrated at the characters for not just saying this or not just doing that, and then frustrated at the author for being so depressing with everything.
I'm a believer that the best stories end well. Great Expectations is a prime example. Yes plenty of things going wrong and plenty drama, but you're left with a feel-good feeling at the end. It's a shame when a TV series just leaves you upset.
1. Tess has such hidden strength in this movie, such a strong code of conduct and morale, of good and bad. She is just crushed by the circumstances, but she is not a victim. And this is also my impression from the book, I always saw Tess as someone strong, independent, filled with passion, love and hate. I always thought the message for Tess is "Man can be destroyed, but not defeated". Plus she is not a stupid peasant girl, she tries to learn, she recites poems and likes to read. Loved that they finally depict Tess in this modern way!!
2. Angel - the most perfect Angel ever. Blood young, no experience, dreaming of a perfect world in Brazil,a bit of a hypocrite...becoming then a man in the face of adversity, waking up to see the world as it is. Polanskis Angel was definitely miscast, and the one from the earlier series was too old and artificial. THIS is the true Angel!
3. Alec - I think this is the ONLY series where Alec is not the stereotype of the villain twirling his mustache and prying the young girl to steal her innocence. There is a very deep psychology behind Alec: he tries to be good, he longs to be loved by his mother and Tess, but when he is rebuffed and refused in his advances his goodness turns to malice and violence/rape. Alec in his way loves Tess very much, but he has this type of personality that mingles cruelty with uttermost devotion. Hans Matheson is just brilliant!
4. Scenes of rape/sex/nudity - even if some might condemn the series for these scenes and say that it's got nothing to do with Hardy, I would reply that on the contrary, this is an important part of what the book is about. Hardy might have skipped descriptions of scenes (as is with Tess' rape by Alec, who is not even very well indicated in the book - it could be rape or just seduction) in order to avoid scandal, but that is why this book was so modern and revolutionary, and I am glad that someone had finally the courage to do it and represent matters as they were. The scene where Tess observes a naked sleeping Angel is so human, so real, and so sweet!
I recommend this series to anyone that loved the book, the interpretation is modern, refreshing, full of color, life, passion, love and pain.
Another BBC masterpiece! 10/10
I thought the film was well produced but god that was a terrible story. I mean soap-opera with a bad ending terrible. 80% of the film is it's characters obsessing about their misfortunes. Maybe that was standard in 19th century, but I found it very frustrating to watch. And I don't mind dramas, not at all. Including with unfortunate endings. I just like to see some sense in it, not just pointless suffering over and over again. There is too much of it in the real life. I just don't understand people who need books or films to see that. Open your eyes people! Go do some volunteering instead.
The story just drags the characters behind it, they do nothing to change anything. So anti-climatic. And when somebody does something (the murder) it feels like the stupidest thing ever. Tess tells Angel she never wants to see him again, and then kills the other guy, and suddenly they are all good now? Oh come on.
Other things I didn't like. The dialogues are really bad. There is basically nothing witty said in the entire series. The characters are not likable, lack depth, and there is very little development, just things happening to them. I didn't read the book but it looks like the author didn't really understand people well. Compared to the Jane Austin adaptations this was a disaster.
This is competently made for a TV mini-series. Arterton has the alluring beauty and the defiant sadness. There may be other colors that she fails to fill in the eyes of some Thomas Hardy fans but she's perfectly good to me. Redmayne has a fragile goodness nature which is very helpful. This is a female suffering melodrama along the Lifetime mode but with more costumes, more British, and more depth. This is a four-part mini-series. The fourth part does struggle to wrap everything up. The melodrama climax gets a bit cringy. It may not satisfy everybody but it has enough worthwhile.
Yes, it is dramatic and yes, it may not be anyone's cup of tea, but if you're into classics, this might be right up your alley.
Once again, the BBC did a fine job adapting Tess for the small screen, but I'm not going to get into details as much, because one should experience this series for oneself.
One thing I'd like to mention is the lovely performance by Gemma Arterton, not dismissing the wonderful performances by the whole cast. I may be biased because, to me, she's one of the most beautiful and talented actresses the UK has produced in the recent past. I've got to admit I'm not a big fan of Eddie Redmayne, but nonetheless a fitting choice for the role of the gentle young man from a wealthy aristocratic family, and Tess' love interest, Mr. Clare.
All in all, a great job. An absolute delight. 8.1/10
Send a woman to the gallows for killing an abusive spouse? Of course, when there is no legal help for an ignorant woman who was reacting to the full injustice of her life. There was so many floods of tears, however, I lost sympathy for her about halfway through the series. The 1979 issue of Tess was far superior, both in writing and acting. *********************SPOILER ALERT*******************************
I must say that the overall character failure of Angel is made more pronounced by the sight of him sitting on a hill far away from where Tess is executed. And is she really as dumb as this movie makes her out to be? Her life is in danger, and yet she dawdles in the mansion to the extent that she is captured. And how convenient that the famous ring of stones is right on their path. Both their IQs are called into question as you watch them striding across open ground in full sight of any who might be looking. And most certainly they couldn't be far from the scene of the murder, since all this is done afoot.
The ignorance and martyred air of this young woman is insufferable. I don't remember having this same feeling when I watched the 1979 movie. Since I also have it in my library, I intend to rewatch it and try to discover why I was caught up in the drama of that one, fully empathetic with Tess and just disgusted with this one.
The actress who played the mother did an excellent job of projecting a fully despicable person, complete with the whiskey bottle. I have yet to understand why this girl, pregnant as she was, rejected the first offer of marriage that would have made her baby safe and was allowed to. The second offer of marriage, she accepted after her mother accepted for her, now after the baby is dead. Most assuredly, she could have left then as she did before and wouldn't have had to kill him to get away. Too much stupidity portrayed in this one....but then again, maybe Hardy was trying to show how stupidity can lead to death, especially when Society has no protection for such women.
Guess it all serves her right for having so much collagen injected in her upper lip that she looks like a grotesque imitation of a woman. Over the top-ness killed this re-make.
I will continue to watch in the hope that it improves, but am not expecting much...I am enjoying 'Lost In Austen' much more!
I think hands down the cast in the 1998 version was better, EXCEPT for Alec D'Urberville, who seems closer to what I pictured him as in the book. The 2008 Tess's voice and mannerisms actually got on my nerves. Her look, voice, movements, and acting style all reminded me extremely of Jennifer Garner; she could easily pass for her little sister. Now, I think Jennifer Garner is great in a romantic comedy, but I would never cast her in a time-period drama. That style just does not work in a piece like this. I thought at first that maybe they were having the actress act very immature and use a babyish voice on purpose early in the film, so that it could alter as she grew up, but even after everything Tess goes through and all the growing up she does, the actress comes off extremely juvenile. I just had trouble taking her seriously. The 1998 Tess is way more convincing in the role. The 2008 Angel, I had read previously several complaints about his acting being rather flat, and I pretty much have to agree (though I had hoped to find him otherwise). He also has the problem of coming across simply too young. The actor was in fact the same age as Angel is said to be (26), but he looks very young for his age and again it is difficult to take him seriously. Granted that people got married young, but these two actors look too much like highschoolers with a crush on each other, rather than a convincing romance.
Even though there was more material, and therefore a few more scenes, there were more inaccuracies (altering the material rather than simply cutting it) in what it had than in the 1998 version. In general I'd say it followed the book quite closely, considering, but not as closely as the other one. There were several times I just cringed with "But that's not how it happened..." A few things they did treat more accurately, like the last few minutes of the movie.
I'm a big fan of soundtracks on time period films, so I think this is important to a good movie. This soundtrack was very prettily recorded, and I think on its own might make good music, but I frequently felt like the music did not really match up with the scene very well, which can be more distracting than cheaply budgeted music. The 1998 music is less impressive in quality, in my opinion, but worked better for the most part. The costumes and the scenery are beautiful, however.
Also, as a warning, there are 2 rather vivid sex scenes in this film. This and some of the subject matter may make this movie inappropriate for young children.
I came away from the 1998 version liking the book/story better than I had; and I came away from the 2008 version liking it less. This version simply did not carry as much power with it, and I never felt myself feeling for the characters as much as I did in the other one. Still, if you're into this genre or like comparing different versions (as I do), I wouldn't say not to watch it. But I don't recommend this being your only exposure to this intriguing and intense story. It's one that I had mixed feelings about as I read it, but has rather grown on me as it has sunk in more. And perhaps this version will grow on me as well, as I get more used to it.
This production has many good points, the leading among them Gemma Arterton. She is fresh, intelligent and passionate and brings just the right touch of melancholy and spiritedness to Tess. She has the right type of natural beauty so that visually she complements the emotional qualities of her portrayal quite perfectly.
In fact, most of the leading characters were well played. I especially enjoyed Hans Mathieson's Alec, the villain with heart but a twisted core.
The photographic qualities of the film are fabulous, a real luxury; but not at the expense of the story. The trials and upheavals of Tess' life are faithfully and movingly shown. I think the story works very well, about 95% of the time, as a particular tale about particular people. This is what I enjoyed about it, but Hardy's novel does more than just tell a particular tale.
For the most part, the archetypal aspects of the leads (Tess, Angel & Alec) are insufficiently hinted at. For example, I don't think it's made clear enough that Angel loves Tess because she represents an ideal of feminine purity to him - in the book he calls her things like daughter of nature and Demeter, and this is unsatisfyingly absent here. Alec's more general role as the stronger force that distorts others' lives for the sake of personal convenience or transient pleasure could also have been more thoroughly explored (but his particular villainy and perverted love are artfully and powerfully portrayed). Angel, too, is more than just a man- he stands for the middle class with uncompromising values, no compassion and unjust double standards, which lead him to see Tess' misfortune as a greater crime than his voluntary "moral holiday" in London. Tess herself is perhaps better depicted as a representation of womanhood in her time - acute and sensitive, intelligent and hard-working, yet at the mercy of forces greater than her, and made to pay for 'sins' that she is not responsible for.
Despite the above, I don't think this is a huge omission; a novel and a mini-series are two different mediums, and if the makers thought they couldn't fit all of this into their production it was as well to leave it out altogether. So overall, still worth watching.
However I also have a gripe about the last episode, where I think the writer/s really dropped the ball. After a lengthy absence in which he sends no word, Angel suddenly reappears and has done a complete about-face with respect to his feelings about Tess. What changes his mind? What happened while he was gone? This seriously undermines the credibility of everything that happens from the moment of his return, because no reason is given for his radical change of heart. I feel that the story, character development and momentum hold up very well until Angel's return- and then drop off. This is a real shame - but while disappointing it doesn't ruin the rest of the production. Nevertheless, I wouldn't go out of my way to see it again.