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Tess (1979)

A strong-willed young peasant girl attracts the affection of two men.

Director:

Roman Polanski

Writers:

Gérard Brach (screenplay), Roman Polanski (screenplay) | 2 more credits »

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Won 3 Oscars. Another 13 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Collin John Collin ... John Durbeyfield
Tony Church Tony Church ... Parson Tringham
Nastassja Kinski ... Tess (as Nastassia Kinski)
Brigid Erin Bates Brigid Erin Bates ... Girl in meadow
Jeanne Biras Jeanne Biras ... Girl in meadow
Peter Firth ... Angel Clare
John Bett John Bett ... Felix Clare
Tom Chadbon ... Cuthbert Clare
Rosemary Martin Rosemary Martin ... Mrs. Durbeyfield
Geraldine Arzul Geraldine Arzul ... Child
Stephanie Treille Stephanie Treille ... Child
Elodie Warnod Elodie Warnod ... Child
Ben Reeks Ben Reeks ... Child
Jack Stephens Jack Stephens ... Man in Tavern
Leigh Lawson ... Alec d'Urberville
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Storyline

Wessex County, England during the Victorian era. Christian values dominate what are social mores. These mores and her interactions with two men play a large part in what happens in the young life of peasant girl, the shy, innocent, proper yet proud Tess Durbeyfield. The first of these men is Alec d'Urberville. After learning from a local historian that they are really descendants of the aristocratic d'Urberville family which has died out due to lack of male heirs, Tess' parents send her to a nearby mansion where they know some d'Urbervilles actually reside. This move is in order for the family to gain some benefit from their heritage. Upon her arrival at the mansion, Tess quickly learns that the family of Tess' "cousin" Alec are not true d'Urbervilles, but rather an opportunistic lot who bought the family name in order to improve their own standing in life. Tess is pulled between what she was sent to accomplish for her family against her general disdain for Alec, who will give her ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

She was a poor man's daughter, an aristocrat's mistress and a gentleman's wife. She was Tess, a victim of her own provocative beauty. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | France

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 December 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Egy tiszta nő See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$20,093,330, 31 December 1981
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD) | (re-issue) | (original)

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby (35 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Roman Polanski and Nastassja Kinski were in a romantic relationship before filming. The affair ended at the completion of the film. See more »

Goofs

At the beginning of the final sequence, set at Stonehenge, someone's head can be seen at bottom-left. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
John Durbeyfield: Good night, t'ee.
Parson Tringham: Good night, Sir John.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The film was first released to German cinemas uncut with a running time of 184 minutes. As the audience reaction was far from overwhelming the distributor decided to re-cut and re-release the film in a more "accessible" 134 minutes version. But at least one of the original prints had survived and was shown here at the local art house years later. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

She's Sleeping. Just A Little Longer
26 April 2012 | by ChrysanthepopSee all my reviews

Polanski's 'Tess' is rich with images and poetry. To start with, the director really does make use of the countryside and life in the country during the late 1800s. Those themes are presented as characters themselves. And, coupled with the fitting score it gives a feel of what the time may have been like. Along with some fine cinematography, many of the shots linger on the beautiful and yet sad countryside.

The pacing is exceptionally well maintained. 'Tess' is longer than the traditional 100 minute flick but not for a moment does it feel as though it's lagging or dragging in pace.

Another strength of the film is its subtlety. For example, to the director's credit, there's an outstanding sequence of how murder is implied just with a few drops of blood. Even the finally sequence (beautifully done) implies Tess's fate (before the epilogue clarifies it). 'Tess' touches on some heavy themes such as sexism, poverty and betrayal but it doesn't preach about them. Rather it tells the story of a strong-willed, devoted and kind woman who was faulted for being beautiful.

Moreover, the characters are brilliantly layered. The screenplay has safely avoided caricatures). A very young Nastassja Kinski is incredible in one of her early roles. Her restrained performance and gestural expressions are remarkable. Peter Firth does a fine job too. They are supported by very good performers.

This is easily one of Polanski's finest: his most subtle and poetic films. A treat to watch.


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