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In the late 19th century, Tess Durbeyfield is sent off to visit a rich cousin, Alec D'Urberville, when her parents learn that they are distantly related. Tess takes a disliking to the man and his attempts at seduction are rebuffed. Returning from a village party he forces himself on the innocent girl who eventually makes her way back to her parents' home. Ashamed and pregnant she seems destined to forever being marked a certain kind of woman. After the death of her child, she makes her way to a prosperous farm where, working as a milkmaid, she meets and eventually marries the handsome Angel Clare. On learning of her past however, he abandons her and with little choice and facing a life of extreme hardship, again falls into Alec's clutches and becomes a kept woman. Written by
BBC Television's first-ever adaptation of Hardy's novel. See more »
There are two musical anachronisms. First, Angel plays an autoharp which was not invented until the 1880s in Germany, and would not have been an English folk instrument at the time of TESS. Secondly, the congregation is heard singing "How Great Thou Art," which was written in Swedish in 1885, but was not commonly known in English until Stuart Hine's translation (circa 1950). See more »
Like the second act of Les Miserables in two minutes
As much as I fell in love with this 'mini TV series' after the first few minutes, and as much as I love writing reviews on here I was determined I wouldn't write anything until I'd seen all of it, I was right to do so.
I admit, I haven't read the book, I probably will now though, so maybe it isn't fair for me to say ti's a good adaption, maybe the book is better I honestly don't know but it feels like it's been well adapted.
Certainly in terms of acting performances, editing, mise-en-scene and the like it's excellent. I was completely taken with the look of it the moment the opening credits started, maybe it's just because I love period films and series' in general but there was something about the look of it that was just pleasing to the eye. The costumes arn't particularly realistic, in one scene Tess wears an in-probably rich shade of red but i don't care, it's all artistic license as far as I'm concerned. And lets face it, the BBC don't exactly have a reputation for realism what with the cast of Robin Hood all looking like they'd all previously been part of a boy-band, but this was better.
Going back to acting performance's I say perfectly honestly they are some of the finest I've ever seen. Say what you like but i think the girl who plays Tess is excellent, maybe the accent is a little exaggerated but her conveyal of the emotions makes the character compelling and it can't be an easy part to play. Both Angel (I hate his name too) and Alec are excellently portrayed as well, particularly Angel in the last few scenes (you almost like him, despite how annoyingly nice he is) but also the supporting characters Rettie is moving in her patheticness and their Groby is too creepy for words, he literally sends a shiver down your spine.
As for conveying the story, I don't see how it could have been done better. I don't want to spoil the ending for anyone but I will say, have a box of tissues next to you, it was sadder than Steven Speilbergs 'A.I.: Atificial Intelligence' it was like the second act of Les Miserables, the same amount of tears (and thats a lot, an hour and a half of tears streaming down your face) compacted into two minutes. The stupidest thing was I watched it on BBC i-player so it ended with a message popping up saying 'I hope you enjoyed this programme' well not enjoyed as such, but I'm glad i watched it.
It'd going on my Christmas wish list right now.
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