Tess of the D'Urbervilles (TV Mini-Series 2008– ) Poster

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Perfect Hardy atmosphere
whistlestop5 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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"The Snow It Melts The Soonest . . . . . . ."
Noirdame7925 October 2008
Warning: 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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An excellent re-interpretation
Paul Evans14 September 2008
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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Good adaptation
jhsteel6 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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Brilliant adaptation of a brilliant book
TheLittleSongbird6 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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Like the second act of Les Miserables in two minutes
Xanthe Young9 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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Very Interesting, Very Harsh
brown-faith9227 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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Very fine production and a showcase for a perfect Tess.
nevandsue9 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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its about time!
melly47-11 December 2008
Warning: 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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An excellent production which draws you in
Catherine Mottram6 October 2008
Warning: 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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Hard to Watch (with constant frustration and anger)
aphrodisiaciix28 May 2017
A series that is very hard to watch let alone enjoy.

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.
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Sarah C23 July 2010
If you--like me--saw a review for this film/miniseries calling it "terrible" and giving it one star, IGNORE IT. This film was absolutely stunning (there's a reason it was nominated for Best Lighting, Photography & Camera) and filled with much emotion and intensity by excellent actors. Gemma Arterton is superb as the lead role and all major and minor characters play their part with dedication and are a joy to watch.

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!
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David Murray22 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Me and my girlfriend love period dramas and watch a lot and this started quite well and it looked promising.

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.
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keckthree30 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Well acted, beautiful production. HORRIBLE STORY!!! Not in the quality of the story, but in the miserable wretched journey you take with these people you start to care about and how it all comes to this frustrating, depressing end!! I for one don't enjoy watching people's mistakes and wanting to reach through a screen and slap sense into people. I don't find that entertaining. I never read the book obviously or else I'd have known what I was getting myself into. Now I wonder if this is a complete work of fiction or if it's based on anything from real life, but I personally wish I could forget this story now. Call me a romantic, but if I have to go on this torturous journey with a character through all sorts of suffering I want there to at least be something that was worth going through it at the end. Like in Jane Eyre. This story has no redemption for the characters, just more misery and regret and heartbreak.If you want to be disturbed or haunted by a heartache, this is perfect! If you want to see anything resembling hope or beauty in life, steer clear!!! I guess for all the atheists out there who look at life as a struggle followed by obliteration this is perfect!
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elisaMR29 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Aside from this, I've only seen the 1998 version starring Justine Waddell; I have, however, read Hardy's novel three times, it being my favorite. I have to say that I was disappointed with this production. I felt that the beginning was too rushed from the dance, to the death of the family horse, and while Gemma Arterton is a beautiful Tess, I just couldn't connect with her. I also didn't like the way that they developed the relationship between Alec and Tess. My interpretation has always been that while Tess remained civil with him in the beginning, she wanted little to do with him and shunned him because of his arrogance. In this adaption they make it seem as if they've developed an actual friendship and she's falling in love with him. I don't necessarily think that the acting was bad, but there was just something about this cast, particularly the two protagonists, that made me feel less for them than I normally would. The love between Angel and Tess didn't seem as real; something was missing. Angel appeared to be a young man who's pride drove him away from his true love once her secret was revealed, but in the novel he is so much more intelligent and complex than what this representation suggested. I guess overall I just feel that the characters weren't developed enough. Normally when I read the novel, or watch the 1998 version, I feel so much for these characters and become emotionally invested. Sadly this series did not produce the same effect. It is still, however, a beautiful and tragic story, and I did enjoy seeing Angel's parents and his relationship with his family, which was basically nonexistent in the '98 series. While some scenes and certain dialogue were a stretch in my opinion, the overall story stayed true to Hardy's heartbreaking novel.
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Typical Hardy, and that's not meant as praise
hcom12 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The production is excellent, I give it that. But what a waste of resources. The story is so typical of Hardy, with coincidences and accidents of timing piled one on top of the other until the whole thing teeters and falls. By the final 20 minutes or so I was groaning as the coincidences piled up ever faster. It is amazing to me how Hardy characters are able to walk for what seems like days on end, only to arrive in the same place started. How characters out of touch with each other can find one another with ease when it suits the plot, and cannot find each other at all at other times. And how widely dispersed characters can all arrive at the same miserable place, with no explanation at all. For those concerned about spoilers, I urge that you skip over the introduction tacked onto the show by PBS. In a few words the presenter effectively tells you the ending. The morons who write these introductions should be shot. They accomplish one thing only, which is to make us miss Alistair Cooke and Russell Baker even more.
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The Best Film Adaptation of any book
cnycitylady27 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
BBC has done it again, and has out done any and every other book to film translation they have ever done. With their Tess of the D'Urbervilles mini series they elegantly translate the book and all of its intricate characters beautifully on screen. Gemma Arterton was perhaps the only person in the world who could capture the beauty, innocence and tenderness that is Tess Durbyfield and Eddie Redmayne was the manifestation of Angel Claire himself. The chemistry between the two actors could not be found or duplicated anywhere else. They were so true to the portrayals of the characters that you would think that they were actually in love with each other if you were to meet them in the street. BBC usually stays true to the book changing very little and only if they have to, but here for Tess of the D'Urbervilles they change almost nothing and if such changes were implicated it would literally take an expert on the book to point them out. The character Alec D'Urberville was brilliantly splashed on screen by Hans Matheson; He captured the unctuous character in his entirety, with his "smooth" and "charming" persona which is really just slimy and abusive. The scenery was almost an exact replica of what was described in the book and all of the supporting characters were spot on in their performances. I especially loved the love scene between the two lead actors, it was flawlessly filmed and directed and never will you see a more tender love moment in a movie. Overall the mini series Tess of the D'Urbervilles was...well...perfect! I loved the book, it is one of my favorites (despite the poor abuse Tess goes through and the sheer unfairly harsh life she has) and I usually say the book is better than the film, (as most readers say) but in this case I say that I don't know which is better. So if you have to read this book for class, or for whatever reason and you really don't want to, just watch this series. You will get all of the information, you will get all of the suffering, love, longing, desire, hate and forgiveness just as well as if you actually sat down to read it. BBC never disappoints, but after watching this I feel as if my expectations for all other book to film translations will have skyrocketed, leaving me forever disappointed. And I thank BBC for giving me a glimpse of perfection.
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Brilliant modern take on Hardy's novel!
woinaroschy_197926 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I guess I've seen all of the Tess movies and series, and each one has a different take on the book: Polanski is presenting Tess as a child of nature, an innocent, naive girl, a victim; then there's the ITV series, and this BBC series, most recent of all. Personally this series is the best take out of the three. Why? Here are my reasons for loving this brilliant series:

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
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Terrible story for a modern short series
Anton Chernyavsky26 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
*Spolers inside*

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.
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female suffering costume melodrama
SnoopyStyle30 January 2018
It's Victorian England. Poor country girl Tess Durbeyfield (Gemma Arterton) is told that she is descended from the noble D'Urberville house. She is torn between two men. Angel Clare (Eddie Redmayne) is a well-meaning gentleman from a religious family of its time. Alec D'Urberville (Hans Matheson) is the cruel supposed-cousin. Tess' father is a loving failure. As she struggles in the unforgiving world, she is befriended by the other milkmaids Izz Huett (Jodie Whittaker), Retty, and Marian.

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.
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Loved it
sanjin_963230 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I read Thomas Hardy's TODU when i was 18 for the first and last time. I have to admit I forgot most of it, but as I was watching this series, it all gradually came back to me. I remembered why I loved the novel so much back then.

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
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Soap Opera and Collagen-inflated lips
alicecbr13 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The distorted look of this actress' face due to her plastic surgery, or collagen pump-up, echoed the disappointing nature of this re-make. It became a pumped-up soap opera, rather than a drama of real life, suffered by many women of that era. Just as "The French lieutenant's Woman" has the actress pitying the English women and how many became prostitutes through no fault of their own, this thomas Hardy novel produces the same effect in me.

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.
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Hardy Labour
Moviefile18 September 2008
A review of the first episode and I am I have to say disappointed. I am partial to Austen/Hardy/Dickens and have enjoyed many of the recent adaptations but this is not as good. Central to this is the central character the eponymous heroine. The young actress is vapid, her accent is poor and her expression lifeless. You get the impression she is acting i.e there is no suspension of disbelief and she is, I find, annoying. Her mother too is as bad as Dawn French was in Lark Rise to Candleford! Thankfully there are others in it who can act, who go some way to redeeming it. Anna Massey as Mrs D'Urberville, Donald Sumpter as Parson Tringham, Christopher Fairbank as Groby all give good turns and Hans Matheson as Alec is suitably creepy. Unfortunately Tess does not evoke our sympathy as she is too wooden and unlikeable.

I will continue to watch in the hope that it improves, but am not expecting much...I am enjoying 'Lost In Austen' much more!
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Comparison with the book and the 1998 version
StarDragyn30 July 2015
I read the book and then watched this version and the 1998 version, all within the span of a couple months, so it is all quite fresh in my mind. My immediate response is that I did not like this version of the movie nearly as well as the 1998 version. The filming quality is rather better, because 10 years newer, and there are subtitles on the DVD, which are advantages. Also this version is an hour longer, so there are a few additional scenes that the other one didn't have. But even for all that, I feel that it's an inferior production.

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.
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Solid, but not brilliant
maerrie126 September 2012
I only recently watched this when it was on TV, but have been familiar with the book for years. I was entertained enough to watch all four episodes so that's a good start.

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.
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