Tess of the D'urbevilles
Directed by Roman Polanski
is based on "Tess of the D'urbevilles" by the great literary
genius Thomas Hardy. It is one of Hardy's most tragic novels.
Tess is the daughter of the poor John Durbeyfield who learns from the
local parson that he is related to ancient nobility, the last of the D'urbevilles.
On receiving this information John Durbeyfield and his wife suggest to
Tess that she approach the D'urbevilles in the area, a family who have
taken the name for mere convenience.
In the novel, Tess is described as a beautiful and sensuous girl, with
"large innocent eyes"; she is on the verge on womanhood. She
is sensitive and this is revealed through her emotions for her family.
She is embarrassed and ashamed of them and yet rushes to their defence
when they are criticized. The ribbon she wears in her hair expresses her
Mrs D'urbevilles son, pursues her and he seduces her in unpleasant circumstances.
Tess has a baby that dies in infancy but the parson refuses to baptise
the child on the grounds that he is illegitimate.
Tess moves away to become a milkmaid and meets and falls in love with
Angel, a loving and tender young man. However Angel unearths the truth
about Tess's past, and he leaves her to a life of drudgery and finally
the arms of the brutal Alex, who she lives with to support her mother
and other siblings.
This entire film like the novel focuses on the subject of fate, how fate
affects our lives, how certain events and people lead us to the places
we find ourselves in. Is there a universal fate that we cannot avoid in
our lives, regardless of the choices and decisions we make in life?
is bound by the rules and contstraints of the society she is living in
and this sets the melancholy mood which flows through the story with great
Angel comes to realise his mistake on judging Tess for her past alone
and he comes back to rescue her too late.
"Tess" the movie is simply breathtaking, described as Nastassja
Kinski's favourite role it is one of the greatest versions of the novel
itself. The scenery and landscapes are wonderful; it was actually filmed
in Normandy and Brittany, which portrayed a similar backdrop to Dorset,
Nastassja Kinski does great justice to the character of Tess and this
is, without doubt, one of her finest acting roles.