For other uses, see Tess (disambiguation)

Infobox Film
name = Tess

| caption = DVD cover for "Tess"
director = Roman Polanski
writer = Gerard Brach
John Brownjohn
Roman Polanski (screenplay)
Based on the novel "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" by Thomas Hardy
starring = Nastassja Kinski
Peter Firth
Leigh Lawson
producer = Claude Berri
music = Philippe Sarde
cinematography = Ghislain Cloquet
Geoffrey Unsworth
editing = Alastair McIntyre
Tom Priestly
distributor = Columbia Pictures
released = flagicon|USA December 12, 1980
flagicon|Australia March 1, 1981
runtime = 190 min.
country = France / UK
language = English
budget = $25,000,000
amg_id = 1:49171
imdb_id = 0080009

"Tess" is a 1979 English language romantic drama film directed by Roman Polanski, an adaptation of Thomas Hardy's 1891 novel "Tess of the d'Urbervilles". It tells the story of a strong-willed, young (apparently) peasant girl who finds out she has title connections by way of her old aristocratic surname, who is seduced by her wealthy cousin, whose right to the family title may not be as strong as he claims. The screenplay was by Gérard Brach, John Brownjohn, and Roman Polanski.

Plot summary

The story takes place in rural Dorsetshire, England, during the Victorian period.

Its events are set in motion innocently enough when a clergyman, Parson Tringham, has a conversation with a simple farmer, John Durbeyfield. Tringham is a local historian; in the course of his research, he has discovered that the "Durbeyfields" are actually descended from the d'Urbervilles, a noble family whose lineage extends to the time of William the Conqueror. It is useless knowledge, really, as the family lost its land and prestige when the male heirs died out. The parson merely thinks Durbeyfield might like to know his origins as a passing historical curiosity.

Unfortunately, Durbeyfield immediately becomes fixated upon the idea of regaining his lost nobility, and using it to somehow better his family's fortunes. To this end, he sends his daughter Tess to seek employment with a family named d'Urberville living in a nearby manor house. Alec d'Urberville is delighted to meet his beautiful "cousin", and he seduces her with strawberries and roses. But Alec is no relation to Tess; he has gotten his illustrious name and coat of arms by purchasing them. Alec falls in love with Tess, eventually seduces/rapes her, and she leaves, pregnant; back at home, the baby is born sickly and dies.

Some time later, Tess goes to a dairy farm and begins work as a milkmaid. There she meets her true love: an aspiring young missionary from a respectable family, named Angel Clare. Angel believes Tess to be an unspoiled country girl, and completely innocent. They fall in love, but Tess does not guiltily confess her previous relationship with Alec until their wedding night. Disillusioned, Angel rejects her and Tess finds herself alone once again.

Deserted by her husband, Tess meets Alec d'Urberville again. At first, she angrily rebuffs his advances. But after her father's death, the Durbeyfield family falls upon desperately hard times, facing starvation, eviction and homelessness. Tess is forced to resume her torrid relationship with Alec, becoming his mistress in order to support her mother and siblings.

Shortly afterwards, Angel Clare returns from travelling abroad. A disastrous missionary tour in Brazil has ruined his health; humbled, and having had plenty of time to think, he is remorseful at his treatment of Tess. He succeeds in tracking her down -- but leaves heartbroken when he finds her cohabiting with Alec. Tess realizes that allowing Alec to manipulate and seduce her a second time has ruined her chances of happiness with Angel. She suffers a mental breakdown and murders Alec in a rage.

Running away to find Angel, Tess is reconciled with him; for he can finally accept and embrace her as his wife without passing moral judgment on her actions. They consummate their marriage, spending two nights of happiness together on the run from the law before Tess is captured sleeping at Stonehenge. The ending summary explains her conviction and being hanged for murder.


Polański made the film because the last time he saw his wife Sharon Tate alive (before she was murdered by Charles Manson's gang), she had given him a copy of "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" and said it would make a great film. The dedication at the opening of the film reads simply: "to Sharon".

Although the film is set in England, it was filmed in Quimper, Brittany, France. This is because Polanski was wanted for statutory rape charges in the United States, and he could have been extradited from the United Kingdom.

On 28 October 1978, cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth died of a heart attack during the third week of shooting. Most of the scenes he shot were exteriors in the first half of the film and can be distinguished by their use of fog and slight diffusion.Fact|date=February 2007 Ghislain Cloquet shot the remainder of the film including most of the interior scenes without diffusion. Rumour has it that among the scenes shot by Geoffrey Unsworth before his death were the foggy day for night seduction in the woods, the tent and the strawberries where Tess is in the d'Uberville mansion, the milking of the large cows, the girls seeing Angel at sunrise, and Angel carrying the girls over the stream Fact|date=February 2007. Unsworth (posthumously) and Cloquet were both named in the successful nomination for Academy Award for Best Cinematography. Cloquet alone was nominated, again successfully, for the César Award for Cinematography [ [http://www.lescesarducinema.com/#search César website search result] ]


The original musical score was composed by Philippe Sarde. The melody that Angel Clare, a Victorian period Englishman, plays on the recorder is in fact a popular Polish folk song, "Laura i Filon".

Main cast


Taglines used to advertise the film include:
* "She was born into a world where they called it seduction, not rape. What she did would shatter that world forever."
* "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."


The film is rated PG in the United Kingdom for brief sexuality and thematic elements.


Awards and nominations

*Academy Awards
**Best Art Direction-Set Decoration
**Best Cinematography (Geoffrey Unsworth (posthumously) and Ghislain Cloquet)
**Best Costume Design

*Academy Award nominations
**Best Director
**Best Music, Original Score
**Best Picture

*Golden Globe Awards
**Best Foreign Film
**New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture

*Golden Globe Award nominations
**Best Director - Motion Picture
**Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama

*César Awards
**Best Picture
**Best Director
**Best Cinematography (Ghislain Cloquet)

*César Award nominations
**Best Actress (Nastassja Kinski)
**Best Production Design
**Best Music Written for a Film


External links


###@@@KEY@@@###succession box
title=Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film
before="La Cage aux Folles"
after="Chariots of Fire"
succession box
title=César Award for Best Film
before="L'Argent des autres"
after="The Last Metro"

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