7.3/10
13,812
79 user 67 critic

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 »
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:

As timely today as the day it was written. 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

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$20,101,247
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

Breakthrough film role of actress Nastassja Kinski. See more »

Goofs

When Tess and Angel break in to the house when on the run, the mic boom pole is reflected in the door beside the broken glass panel Angel had just forced. 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

Featured in Sneak Previews: The Best of 1981 (1982) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A return viewing.
29 July 2001 | by victor7754See all my reviews

Roman Polanksi's Tess gets better and better with age.

The mists...the sounds of footsteps on the dirt roads... the ambling horse... the elflike man that appears at the Cross in Hands, Tess' walk to her Inlaws church, The dripping water, The taking of the boots, the misplaced letter, the milk run, the puddle in the road, the dripping milk pouches, The strawberry, the blood stain, The burial, Stonehenge...Everything is beautifully shot. It lingers in the mind long after viewing. Geoffrey Unsworth's final cinematographic film. Thank you for all your beautiful work.

It is neither pretentious nor bold.

Mesmerizing! The musical composition is charging.

Nastassja Kinski's plays the title character. She reacts so well. Her beauty in a time of such oppression and depression would be an ill fate. Tess knows this fate and she wishes she was never born. She is the sacrifice of a paradigm. Victorian era was finished. Edwardian Enlightenment would soon come but not for Tess, the sacrificial pure beauty.

Thomas Hardy created a pure woman in Tess. That is why her plight is so tragic. She possesses a strong spirit that is oppressed by the male political and religious world around her.

The opening shot is well directed in the morning sunrise as fair maidens dance with one another. Tess' oversight by Angel begins this tragic tale. "As Flies to wanton boys, are we to the Gods, they kill us for their sport."

Tess, Thomas Hardy

Do not take your eyes off of it. It is beautifully told!

Victor Nunnally, BFA Dramatic and Film Theory and History, AA Performing Experience.


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