D: Roman Polanski

Columbia/Renn/Timothy Burrill/SFP (Claude Berri)

UK/France 1979 (released 1980)

186 mins


W: Roman Polanski, Gerard Brach & John Brownjohn [based on the novel "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" by Thomas Hardy]

DP: Geoffrey Unsworth & Ghislain Cloquet

Ed: Alastair McIntyre & Tom Priestley

Mus: Philippe Sarde

PD: Pierre Guffroy & Jack Stephens

Cos: Anthony Powell

Nastassja Kinski (Tess Durbeyfield), Peter Firth (Angel Clare), Leigh Lawson (Alec Stokes d'Urberville), Rosemary Martin (Mrs. Durbeyfield), Carolyn Pickles (Marian)

Roman Polanski's tribute to his late wife (Sharon Tate) is this brilliant realised costume drama, an adaptation of Thomas Hardy's 19th century novel.

Nastassja Kinski lights up the screen as the title character, a peasant girl who discovers that she is of noble heritage and on upon discovering her extended family, she becomes the object of affection for two men, one of whom her affluent cousin.

It's a fine testament to Thomas Hardy's work, which was very ahead of its time, with much focus paid to the setting of 19th century Wessex (director Polanski, a fugitive from America, filmed everything in France, which was harbouring him from arrest). Credit must also go to the two cinematographers, Geoffrey Unsworth, who passed away during filming, and Ghislain Cloquet, who seamlessly took over for the rest of the production 

Nominated for 6 Oscars, including Best Picture, the film went on to win 3 awards (Cinematography, Art Direction and Costume Design). 

Very much worth a watch, even if you're not a fan of period drama.


Nastassja Kinski in Tess
Nastassja Kinski in Tess