Had the chance to see a re-mastered issue projected at TIFF lightbox representing my first viewing of the film since the eighties. Polanski offered a mostly faithful if subdued adaptation of the Hardy classic with the contributions of the artisans involved often overcoming the performers. Kinski makes a fine Tess evolving from timid peasant to firebrand over the 3 hour runtime. Winner of 3 Academy awards.
I don't really know what to conclude. It has moments of affecting drama and is constantly beautiful (Nastassja Kinski is a screen goddess). However, the length seems unearned with sequences that evaporate in my memory and most male characters are just complete douches. Even other feminist films at least give their male characters SOME dimensions. Still, overall, it's worth watching.
Polanski’s grotesqueries recede to subtleties and Kinski, with a storyline reliant on tiny narratorial incongruities: the contrast of the tranquility of the countryside alongside the inner turmoil of the characters; the profusion of crossing paths, roads, intersections, entrances, and exits; and at last beginning with the end credits, signifying from the outset some haunting irrevocabilities...
Extreme beauty gives shape for this epic english romance. The 19th century is alive in the clothing, countryside, prejudice and the old english superstitions. It was like putting a glass and going back in time. Hardy's prose must be quite something to Polanski did what he did here.