Wessex County, England during the Victorian era. Christian values dominate what are social mores. These mores and her interactions with two men play a large part in what happens in the young life of peasant girl, the shy, innocent, proper yet proud Tess Durbeyfield. The first of these men is Alec d’Urberville. After learning from a local historian that they are really descendants of the aristocratic d’Urberville family which has died out due to lack of male heirs, Tess’ parents send her to a nearby mansion where they know some d’Urbervilles actually reside.
This move is in order for the family to gain some benefit from their heritage. Upon her arrival at the mansion, Tess quickly learns that the family of Tess’ “cousin” Alec are not true d’Urbervilles, but rather an opportunistic lot who bought the family name in order to improve their own standing in life. Tess is pulled between what she was sent to accomplish for her family against her general disdain for Alec, who will give her.
Tess is a 1979 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 country girl descended from a noble line who, when she makes contact with the apparent head of the family, is raped and left pregnant. After her baby dies, she meets a man who abandons her on their wedding night when she confesses her past.
Desperate, she returns to her seducer and murders him. The screenplay was written by Gérard Brach, John Brownjohn, and Roman Polanski. The film received positive critical reviews upon release and was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, winning three for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.
Directed by: Roman Polanski
Starring: Nastassja Kinski, Peter Firth, Leigh Lawson, Brigid Erin Bates, Jeanne Biras, Geraldine Arzul, Rosemary Martin
Screenplay by: Gérard Brach, Roman Polanski
Production Design by: Pierre Guffroy
Cinematography by: Ghislain Cloquet, Geoffrey Unsworth
Film Editing by: Alastair McIntyre, Tom Priestley
Costume Design by: Anthony Powell
Art Direction by: Jack Stephens
Music by: Philippe Sarde
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: December 12, 1980