Tag Archives: tess of the d’urbervilles

Tess of the D’urbervilles – Part 4

So we come to the final post, and the earliest version of Tess, made by Roman Polanski back in 1979. It’s actually a beautiful version with Tess played by a 17 year old Natasha Kinski, and Angel played ironically, by a very young Peter Firth. Natasha is really astonishing, considering that it’s one of her first roles, she’s acting in a second language with a difficult accent. I think she’s my favourite Tess. And Peter, well it was just interesting to see him as a very young man.

I do like the classic style of this film, with its gorgeous music and cinematography, but I think the ending’s a bit rushed here.

Tess’s attempted confession:

The final moments:

So there you go. Given I’ve actually only seen this version in full, I’m going to track down the 1998 version because it looks fantastic.

Tess of the D’urbervilles – Part 3

The second adaptation was made back in 1998. From these two clips, I think they took a more realistic approach in terms of both style and acting, which I think works. Tess seems a lot more tougher here, and Angel’s definitely better played by this actor.

Here’s the proposal scene in the dairy:

And this is really great, when Angel returns and finds Tess, well, taken:

Tess of the D’urbervilles – Part 2

I know the English have an obsession with adapting Jane Austen, and to a lesser extent, Charles Dickens. However Thomas Hardy’s work generates its fair share of adaptations, especially Tess which seems to get a revival every 10 years or so. It’s then interesting to do a comparison between the last 3 of them, made in 2008, 1998 and 1979.

It’s interesting to see how drama has changed, and how each generation deals with showing the lyrical side of the novel and the challenging storyline. Character-wise, I’m particularly interested in how they cast Tess and Angel Clare, since their story I think produces the most poignant moments.

The last adaptation was only made last year. It’s got the best cinematography of the three that I’m going to cover, but I’m not sure about the casting. The girl who plays Tess is ok, but this Angel seems a bit too foppish for me!

After their wedding, Tess and Angel confess to each other:

Their final moments:

Tess of the D’urbervilles – Part 1

Getting all literary now. I read Tess of the D’urbervilles years ago and found it one of the most frustrating novels ever. Probably because I hadn’t read any other Thomas Hardy novels! Anyway, frustration was the impression I took away from it, but lately I’ve revisited the novel by listening to an audiobook version. The story is still as frustrating as ever, but I never realised how beautiful the prose is. I’m a huge fan of lyrical novels and Hardy’s descriptions of the landscapes and lifestyle of rural 19th Century Dorset, like this passage from Chapter 24:

Amid the oozing fatness and warm ferments of the Froom Vale, at a season when the rush of juices could almost be heard below the hiss of fertilization, it was impossible that the most fanciful love should not grow passionate. The ready bosoms existing there were impregnated by their surroundings.

July passed over their heads, and the Thermidorean weather which came in its wake seemed an effort on the part of Nature to match the state of hearts at Talbothays Dairy. The air of the place, so fresh in the spring and early summer, was stagnant and enervating now. Its heavy scents weighed upon them, and at mid-day the landscape seemed lying in a swoon. Ethiopic scorchings browned the upper slopes of the pastures, but there was still bright green herbage here where the watercourses purled. And as Clare was oppressed by the outward heats, so was he burdened inwardly by waxing fervour of passion for the soft and silent Tess.

Actually, I think I’ve appreciated the novel more by listening to the audiobook. The narrator Peter Firth is very good, bringing to life not just the lyrical parts but also the varied accents of its characters.