Based on Thomas Hardy’s tragic 1891 novel TESS OF THE D’URBERVILLES, TESS follows the hard life of a beautiful young Wessex peasant girl, who seeks her fortune with the wealthy D’Urbervilles, whom her family believes to be distant relatives. Tess’s tragic fate is sealed the moment the manipulative son of the house, Alec, seduces and impregnates her. She returns home, bears the child–who dies shortly after–and her ashamed family banishes her from their home.

Tess finds work and shelter on a dairy farm, where she falls in love with Angel Clare, the pastor’s son. The two are soon engaged to be married. However, the evening before the wedding, Tess tries in vain to reveal her sordid past to her beloved Angel, so they wed nevertheless. On hearing the truth he flees to Brazil, leaving Tess alone once more to find work in the fields, only to be dealt further blows to her fragile life. Ultimately, when Angel unexpectedly returns she seeks to kill Master Alec–vengeance for sparking this series of tragic events–and solemnly she faces the gallows.

With stunning evocative photography and fine acting, with a particularly sensitive and fragile performance from Kinski, this languid tragedy won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Art Direction and Costume Design, and also a BAFTA for photography.



April 09, 1981


Roman Polanski


Roman Polanski, G


Columbia Pictures Corporation


Drama, Romance




190 minutes