Directed by recently exiled Polish-American director Roman Polanski, this lushly photographed Franco-British production of the Thomas Hardy novel, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, is a stunning portrayal of an innocent adrift in a hostile, chaotic world that earned [a Golden Globe] for the young Nastassja Kinski. Tess (Kinski) is sent by her desperate father (John Collin), a simple farmer, to pay a visit to the d’Urbervilles, a local noble family believed to be distant relatives. However, having set out to the aristocratic house less than a day’s carriage ride away, Tess is soon embroiled in a world of seduction, violence and tragedy. And in true Thomas Hardy fashion, it’s a world from which she gains little respite. One of Polanski’s film masterpieces, Tess tells the story of a poor man’s daughter, an aristocrat’s mistress and a gentleman’s wife who was ultimately a victim of her own provocative beauty. –Umbrella Entertainment
The son of a Polish Jew and a Russian immigrant, Polanski was born in Paris on August 18, 1933. When he was three, his family moved to the Polish town of Krakow, an unfortunate decision given that the Germans invaded the city in 1940. Things went from bad to worse with the formation of Krakow’s Jewish ghetto, and Polanski’s family was the target of further persecution when his parents were deported to a concentration camp. Just before he was to be taken away, however, Polanski’s father helped his son escape, and the boy managed to survive with help from kindly Catholic families, although he was at times forced to fend for himself. (At one point, the Germans decided to use Polanski for idle target practice.) It was during this period that Polanski became a devoted cinephile, seeking refuge in movie houses whenever possible. Shortly after sustaining serious injuries in an explosion, Polanski learned of his mother’s death at Auschwitz. His father survived the camps, and moved back to Krakow… read more
A surprisingly lifeless affair. Subpar performances, with Peter Firth's reptilian Angel Clare setting some kind of standard for sheer Implausibility as a Romantic Hero.
I know that I saw TESS when it was theatrically released but I honestly had no recollection of it before deciding to give it a second chance. Now I'm quite convinced that you can enjoy or hate the same movie according to when you see it. Just think that I was sure, 25 years ago, that Steven Spielberg would become the new Orson Welles of the 7th art ; how was I wrong... But I'm wandering from the point. The fact is that I was extremely stirred by this Brach/Polanski adaptation of Thomas Hardy novel. During the projection, I often had the feeling to walk around in the aisle of a museum dedicated to English paintings. Three hours of pleasure. Masterpiece.
More from the current center of cinephilia in Italy: Walsh, Polanski, Feuillade, Mizoguchi and more.