Tess (1979)

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This multiple-Oscar-winning film by Roman Polanski is an exquisite, richly layered adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles. A strong-willed peasant girl (Nastassja Kinski, in a gorgeous breakthrough) is sent by her father to the estate of some local aristocrats to capitalize on a rumor that their families are from the same line. This fateful visit commences an epic narrative of sex, class, betrayal, and revenge, which Polanski unfolds with deliberation and finesse. With its earthy visual textures, achieved by two world-class cinematographers—Geoffrey Unsworth (Cabaret) and Ghislain Cloquet (Au hasard Balthazar)—Tess is a work of great pastoral beauty as well as vivid storytelling.

Rotten Tomatoes: Fresh 85% / Audience 78%

Rated PG,  2 hr 50 mins

GENRES
Drama • Romance
DIRECTION
Roman Polanski
CAST
Nastassja Kinski  •  Peter Firth  •  Leigh Lawson  •  John Collin

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CAST & CHARACTERS
Nastassja Kinski Tess Durbeyfield
Peter Firth Angel Clare
Leigh Lawson Alec Stokes-d'Urberville
John Collin John Durbeyfield
Sylvia Coleridge Mrs. d'Urberville
Richard Pearson Vicar of Marlott
Tony Church Parson Tringham
Brigid Erin Bates Girl in meadow
Jeanne Biras Girl in meadow
John Bett Felix Clare
Tom Chadbon Cuthbert Clare
Suzanna Hamilton Izz Huett