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Tess of the D'Urbervilles
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Product Description

One of the most memorable heroines in literature comes to life in this stunning adaptation of Thomas Hardy¡¯s most passionate work. Starring Justine Waddell (Anna Kareina).

This handsome made-for-television British-American coproduction uses the longer format of the two-part film to explore the characters of Thomas Hardy's novel with an easy pace. After her mother sends her to distant, moneyed relatives, Tess, played by the striking Justine Waddell, grows from naive but willful young British beauty to determined mother to sad martyr. At the hands of "cousin" Alec (the darkly charming Jason Flemyng), a womanizing, self-centered dandy, Tess begins her lessons on the social double standard, made all the more difficult given her own demanding personal code. A blond, blue-eyed, and beautiful gentleman farmer appropriately named Angel (Oliver Milburn) seems to offer Tess her salvation, but her past hovers over her like a curse and even now threatens her happiness. Director Ian Sharp's handsome presentation makes the most of the picaresque British countryside, an often beautiful, sometimes chilly, and at times inhospitable and unfriendly world. If this interpretation is not as gripping as Roman Polanski's 1979 film Tess, it offers a richer, more complex set of characters, and Sharp's earthy palette and subdued cinematic approach creates a vivid world far from the quaint, colorful visions of most theatrical presentations of historical England. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews:

  • Hardy kills another romance novel
    Well adapted, true to the story, but honestly: Of all the books out there, why would they film this? It's depressing, dismal, and desperate. There are NO heroes in this. I would compare it to Vanity Fair but at least in Vanity Fair there is a good guy to get a silly girl in the end.
    This is what happens when men write romance novels. If you don't believe me watch his other "classic": The Major of Casterbridge.

    1 star for Music
    1 star for Acting and adaptation

    0 for brilliant story

    If you want to watch a good romance that has depth, makes you weepy, and that ends well, watch the BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South. ...more info
  • The heartwrenching story of a girl whose true enemy was fate.
    The loss of one's pride while the accentuation of one's innocence is the irony that made "Tess of the D'Urbivilles" one of the boldest and most honest novels to come out of the 19th century. Thomas Hardy's novel about a girl who is disgraced by the society that destroyed her is compelling and controversal, and in my eyes, difficult to transport onto the screen. Yet somehow, this adaptation of the Hardy classic, though different in some ways, is successful in bringing out the travesty, tragedy, and short-lived passion of a girl whose pride is ripped away from her bit by bit, yet through it all remains pure and innocent.

    Justine Waddell was so captivating as Tess, embodying all the sadness and diminishing hope of her character. I was particularly impressed how as the film progressed, (especially in the final half-hour or so), Tess's once bright and accepting outlook on life turns dead, replaced by bitterness and dismay. Waddell did a clever job in portraying these opposite traits with subtlety and care.

    Olvier Milbern was a good choice for Angel Clare. I liked how his physical presence stepped somewhat outside the stereotype of other men at that time. Conventional slicked back hair and spotless suits were replaced by a slight grubby, rebellious twist. This was good in bringing out Angel's emotional removal from normal 19th Century society. It was a simple, yet successful element.

    I did not, however, care for Jason Flemyng's portrayal of the dislikable Alec, whose very exploitment of Tess is the reason for her terrible downfall. I thought Flemyng's performance was laboured and weak, and he did not blend well into his character's shoes at all. Generally, I thought his acting was poor, which is rather unusual for him.

    That aside, for me, the film's greatest part was the heartbreaking final scene at Stonehenge. Broken and disgraced (not to mention a fugitive) Tess spends her final happy, passionate hours with Angel on the quiet dark hills next to the ancient ruins. This scene moved me greatly. The presence of the stones represented her family's distant connection to an ancient lineage. Angel's redeemed love for her, dispite everyting, is the most precious gift Tess could ever receive. But fate it seems is unsympathetic, and her dark past traps her once and for all. It's just so sad.

    So, I was really impressed with this film. The scenery and bittersweet musical theme added extra essence to this great adaptation of Thomas Hardy's original story. As the film's bright opening progresses towards its climactic and heartbreaking end, we are forever reminded of a girl who lost everything to Fate... except her innocence.
    ...more info
  • Waddell Gives an Oscar Worthy Performance as "Tess"
    Justine Waddell captures the soul of Tess Durbyfield, a young, naive, somewhat conflicted, and yet deeply loyal woman residing in the 19th century English countryside. This simple country girl, sent to claim kin with the rich D'Urbervilles, is badly used by her "cousin" Alec. Ashamed and stigmatized, Tess reconciles herself to a loveless life -- until she meets Angel Clare, who is intent on capturing this elusive, complex girl. Torn between her fear that she's unworthy and her love for Angel, Tess finally relents. But for Hardy's characters happiness is haunted, unsteady and tragically short-lived. After confessing her "sin" the night of their nuptials, Angel abandons poor Tess. Weighed down with the hope of his return, her loyalty and her plight, Tess struggles on. Waddell beautifully portrays Tess as she unravels emotionally and heeds the violent impulses of her ancient family -- the D'Urbervilles. ...more info
  • Dark, poignant, tragic...An absolutely breathtaking adaptation!
    When I first read Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles, I was amazed that a nineteenth century male writer would write about a "fallen woman" in such a touching, sympathetic light. In fact, publishers refused to release the novel at first because of its blatant contempt to the unfairness of women like the heroine in the story. Tess of the D'Urbervilles is one dark novel and I wondered how the A&E miniseries would be like. This is one of the most wonderful and touching adaptations I have seen! The film, like the novel, is quite dark and poignant and I was in tears at the end. Tess Durbeyfield is an innocent sixteen-year-old struggling to survive with her impoverished family. When they discover that they are the poor relations of a wealthy family, the D'Urbervilles, Tess is sent away to work for them. There she meets the handsome scoundrel Alec D'Urberville, who, under false pretenses, seduces the naive young woman. (Well, some may call it seduction, but I call it rape.) She refuses to carry on as his mistress, so she goes back to her family, but her struggles have just begun. She has Alec's baby, but the infant dies. Starting over, Tess moves to a farm, where she meets Angel Clare, an attractive and respectable son of a clergyman. They fall in love and get married, but he soon abandons her after she confesses her "sin." There Tess's struggles for survival truly begin and she is forced to make some ill-fated decisions that lead to tragedy.

    Justine Wardell (Wives and Daughters, Mansfield Park) delivers a powerful and poignant performance and brings this strong, albeit tragic heroine to life in more ways than one. She transmits so many emotions that I was truly moved to the core. I couldn't have pictured a better actress for this role. Jason Flemyng is also wonderful as the villainous Alec D'Urberville. His performance is quite in-depth and credible. No cardboard villain resides in this actor! In fact, his love for Tess seems sincere, offering marriage and to care for her once she tells him everything she's been through. Alec does some vile things, but I feel that he is sincere in his way. Angel, on the other hand, is truly hateful. He is for the most part responsible for everything that happens to Tess after they are married. His unwillingness to start a life with Tess because she is "damaged goods" is difficult to stomach. Kudos to Oliver Milburn for his wonderful acting. The adaptation is amazing. Thomas Hardy did a wonderful job in showing a more compassionate side of a fallen woman. That is why I have always been amazed that a nineteenth century man had written such a novel. The screenwriter, Ted Whitehead, has kept Hardy's vision alive with this vivid adaptation. Everything here is wonderful -- the acting, the script, the direction, the scenery, the wardrobe, the backdrop of how things were like for women during the late Victorian era, etc. The A&E has once again outdone themselves with this excellent production. Are you in the bargain for a powerful period piece? Do not hesitate to give Tess of the D'Urbervilles a whirl. If you do decide to watch this, keep a box of Kleenex nearby. You will need it!...more info
  • As faithful to the book as a movie can be.
    This movie is absolutely beautiful. It's heart-wrenching as well as heartwarming, and it really portrays with great accuracy the hatred that Hardy had of the industrialization destroying England as the "sinfulness" of her relationship with Alec D'Urberville destroys the heroine. The movie captures very effectively the tragedy of Tess' loves; both of her men failed her, but Angel failed her more as he could not forgive her even when he had done the same thing. The final part, in which she is driven to desperation, is believable and realistic. Justine Waddell shines!...more info
  • Depressing period piece movie
    Depressing, gloomy, meaningless, useless garbage. I bought this movie based on the number of positive reviews I read. I had great difficulty making it to the end, after which I wanted to throw the DVD out the window ( but instead gave it to my sister as a gift). If you enjoy watching wasted lives and meaningless death this movie is for you. It's not that I can't handle such themes, but why bother. ...more info
  • Tess of the D'Urbivilles
    Although used, this DVD was in excellent condition. It arrived in a timely manner and the move stayed very close to the Thomas Hardy novel. Most enjoyable. I could watch it again and again...more info
  • Absolutely Stunning Tearjerker
    Like the equally magnificent Mayor of Casterbridge, A&E has done another wonderful job with this immensely entertaining adaption of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

    Everything from the casting to the sets to the acting is superb, and Justine Waddell truly shines as Tess. Not only is she breathtakingly beautiful in the role, but she conveys Tess's spirit and pluck as few other actresses could. Jason Flemyng as Alec D'Urberville is also a standout, and plays the role with a devilish charm that is irresistible. The rest of the cast is likewise great.

    The movie, at a running time of about three hours, moves along at a fast pace; anyone will most likely watch all of it in one sitting.

    Although the ending is depressing (as most of Hardy's novels are), the film is truly a treat that you won't want to miss out on.

    Bravo!...more info
  • Beautiful, Faithful Adaptation of Hardy's Masterpiece
    I watched the movie yesterday, one week after I finished reading the book "Tess of the D'Urbervilles." I was blown away by the acting and the faithfulness of the movie to the book. Some minor scenes were cut, but only lines were added in, not scenes, and even then the added lines did not detract from the integrity of the story.

    That said, the movie follows the story and events pretty much flawlessly, and I would say, presents the characters' personalities and feelings flawlessly as well. But that, or course, is mostly all because of the talent of the actors involved, especially the main three. Also, by the strength of the novel alone, you could tell that if the movie followed the book in both characterization and plot, it couldn't go wrong. And since the movie does just that, it's just right. You ache for Tess because of what she has to go through, yet you admire her because of her strength in the face of so many obstacles. Such a lovely, lovely movie. Tragic and so bittersweet. ...more info
  • "And there I met a man named Alec...Alec D'Urberville..."
    I became obsessed with this movie during my senior year of high school - we watched it in English class, which took an entire week. We never read the book for that class, but I read it soon after, and I believe this adaptation is mostly faithful.

    !!SPOILERS!!

    Tess is my favorite Hardy novel next to The Return of the Native. Justine Waddell's performance is excellent, as she truly embodied "innocence" transformed into a suicidal, cold woman, no longer caring about her future because of the men who betrayed and ruined her.

    I hated Alec, naturally, but I hated Angel even more in some ways. What a hypocrite, telling Tess that he couldn't love her, didn't want to see her anymore because he was only in love with her purity, and she wasn't really pure. Never mind that the rape wasn't her fault - "You were more sinned against" he admitted, though he still wouldn't accept her.

    And I definitely considered it rape, not consensual sex/seduction (Tess admitting that she had some "feelings" for Alec didn't make it consensual). Makes me sick, especially since he wasn't pure either. The wretched double standard rears its ugly head yet again. Anyway, I'm inclined to believe that Angel would have rejected her even if it had been a totally brutal rape with no feelings/attraction involved. She was damaged goods in Angel's eyes, and it's tragic that this sort of thing still goes on today.

    I always enjoy the atmosphere at the end of the movie...the colors, the mood. Tess seems a bit psychotic, complete with the glazed eyes, wandering around in her nightgown repeating, "It's too late." And a bit later, having changed into a gorgeous dark blue dress, she walks quickly through a quiet, wealthy town by the sea - Sandbourne. With sounds of seagulls, so tranquil despite the characters' turmoil.

    By the final scene, I hate Angel more than ever. He could have prevented so much if he'd loved her completely, as a husband should. She had no other choice but allow Alec to take over the role of supportive husband, to deliver her family from poverty.

    And so it appears that there are two villains to this story. One appeared too early in Tess' life - the other, too late....more info
  • Makes me want to read the book...
    I'm a fan of classic literature and have been meaning to read the book for a long time but never got around to it. I had no idea what the story was about. After seeing the movie, the story was so good, i regret not having read the book. But this version was excellent. Since it was a mini-series, it is able to develope the characters to the point where you understand their motivations. You see how much Alec loves Tess in "his own way" and how Tess despises him and how Tess loves Angel and how Angel loves Tess...it is all very believable and the actors are fantastic with excellent chemistry. I really loved this movie. Heartbreakingly good.

    PS- I also watched the Polinki's version "Tess"- This version is 100 times better....more info
  • A Jewel
    There was some terrific acting in this mini series, specifically from Justine Waddell, Jason Flyming and Oliver MIlburn. This film has a dark ending, but the production itself is not. There are many light moments to overcome the tragedy that is unfolding. Tess is a traveller on a road towards her inevitable fate, a fate that seems typical of Thomas Hardy. Much like Antigone in the play, once the clock is wound and events are set in motion, the outcome becomes unavoidable. Justine Waddell as Tess is beautiful as a sixteen year old and even more so four years later, but when she is forced to do hard labor to earn a living, she has the mannerisms, the walk and the talk of a laborer who is worn down by the grind. As the charming Angel, Oliver Milburn is pleasant and then downright disgusting in his betrayal of Tess. The actor did a great job as the loving courter and then the creep that rejected her. Then he came back after he decided he could forgive her. Even though it was kind of cute, I was thinking: What a jerk. He's forgiving her after all she went through! Even in the end when he was trying to finally be the loving husband that he should have been to begin with, I couldn't forgive him. I felt that it was only the now twisted mind of Tess that allowed her to forgive him. And there was Jason Flemying as Alec, the D'eurberville that wasn't. He loved Tess in his own way, she declared. Well he did. This guy went above and beyond the call of duty to love and care for Tess, but she would not love him. Yes, he did rape her, and he never knew the consequences until it was too late. For Tess, much that people did to right their wrongs was 'too late'. I did not find this DVD to be depressing. It was vintage Hardy and very well done. Also, I did not see this as a romance at all. This was a tragedy to be played out. I was also impressed by the work scenes, in the fowl farm and later in part 2 on the farm where Tess was working. Very depressing working conditions that demonstrated how far the lady had fallen. Tess of the D'eubervilles was excellent. ...more info
  • A Spirited Production of the Hardy Novel
    Overall, this is a fairly good adaptation of Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Less haunting than the 1979 version of Tess, this one is more lighthearted and energetic. I often liked the spirited temper and playful flirtatiousness of Tess in this film, and I liked the emphasis on Angel's jealousy after Tess has confessed her former affair to him. Plus, this Tess is divinely beautiful - anyone could see why she captures the heart of every man she meets. What I didn't like was the fact that this version seemed to clarify all the characters' thoughts and feelings, instead of leaving it subtle and ambiguous as the '79 film does. I prefer it when you get to decide for yourself what Tess is feeling. Also, I felt that the narrator in this version was unnecessary, and (as is too often the case nowadays) the love scenes were rather unattractive. Too many actors and actresses have forgotten how to infuse passion into their kissing. The love scenes were more romantic in the 1979 film.

    I still find this production enjoyable for its spirit, though, and Tess is wonderful to look at. Go ahead and watch it, and make your own decision....more info
  • What is there to say?!!!
    I purchased this tape solely on the reviews I have seen by my fellow members, and I have not yet read the novel. I feel obliged to confess that I was not at all disappointed. Instead, I found myself idolizing this spectacular movie for what it really is, absolute brilliance! A must see, must own video!! And now, I am going to do what I should have done a long time ago, read the novel....more info
  • You MUST buy
    I usual don't leave reviews for movies, but after watching this one i felt obligated to. This is only my 2nd review in years, the only other one being Anne of Green Gables. I don't want to give away any of the movie, and it seems everything i wanted to say has been said before me. So all i will say is this: If you've read the novel and are wodnering whether or not this movie will be worth it, stop wondering and buy it. It is seriously one of the greatest movies i've ever seen (and i've seen a LOT, believe me). So, take some advice from a perfect stranger and just buy the movie....more info
  • The Greatest Movie We Have Ever Seen!!!!!!!!!!
    My family and I Love this movie so much. We have watched it countless times since it first aired on A&E last Sept. We bought two movie videos of it, because we were afraid we might wear it out. Everything about this production is Wonderful. We wish it would even be released on DVD, then we would even by another copy of this Great movie. The musical score for this movie is so Beautiful and Moving. We wish that the soundtrack would be released on CD. We could just go on and on about this Unforgettable movie!!!!!!!!...more info
  • Tess Of The Beauty And Sorrows
    I fell in love with this version of Thomas Hardy's classic novel, and it benefits from British locations and filming at the actual Stonehedge.

    A&E's movie was truer to the book than Roman Polanski's otherwise excellent and recommendable version, including the situation that sends Tess to the Stoke-D'Urbervilles in the first place. And Oliver Milburn's portrayal of Angel Clare seems to fit the character in the book better than Peter Firth's performance. I have to say that Jason Flemying and Leigh Lawson each did an outstanding job as the rakish Alec D'Urberville, the lazy, dissolute man who takes advantage of the innocent Tess. Justine Waddell makes a strong yet sensitive Tess, who refuses to marry a man that she does not love for the sake of reputation and financial security. The tragedies that befall her are blamed on her by the hypocritical, sexually repressed society that corrupted and used her in the first place. The agony that she feels over Angel's double-standards toward her past shows us how much things have changed in our society (although not in some countries) and the sexist and chauvinistic attitudes that still plague people today. All and all, a beautiful and fantastically told story, worth watching and comparing to Polanski's 1980 version starring Nastassja Kinski. Enjoy, but don't forget your Kleenex!!!! ...more info
  • Good but dark
    This movie is very good. I loved all the actors and exactly how they portrayed each character. The stoy is so heart wrencing and sad most of the time that I found myself depressed after viewing it! I had to laugh at towards the end though because the surprise of it all, I never thought Tess could do such a thing. And when she told Angel what she did, it all seemed like a joke, almost too corny. But I did cry my eyes out. It is still a very good movie even though the end is strange and most of the story is very dark. I couldn't help but feel the heart breaks as well for both Tess and Angel. Though I wanted to clobber him for his actions, I understood his pain.
    It is only lacking 1 star in my opinion because the whole movie was acted out so well until the few last scenes. I felt Angel (the actor) lost his grip on his character and seemed too distant. The acting all around seemed to fall down hill during those few final scenes. But the rest of the movie was good. 4 stars! ...more info
  • Fabulous movie!
    The acting is wonderful! The story is classic! The writing is fantastic! The scenery is beautiful! This is a high quality movie!...more info
  • Stays true to the spirit of the book
    In this version Of Tess of the D'Urbervilles, the very essence of the book is caught in a way that is but too often unseen. Tess, Justine Waddell is the perfect actress to play this role. Not only are the physical apperances remarkably alike but so is every emotion expressed by Waddell which are just like the ones Hardy describes. The rest of the cast does a superb job as well. Especially Jason Flemyng who plays the seductive yet repulsive Alec Stoke D'Urberville. Perhaps the only complain I have is leaving out the book's ending in which Angel and Tess' sister, 'Liza-Lu a "spiritualized image of Tess" whom Tess had asked Angel to marry and teach her the things Angel had taught her, witnessing from a far the raising of the black flag in honor of Tess' execution and joining hand in hand as they run on. Overall this video is a rare treasure....more info
  • One of the best and most touching stories
    The story of Tess of the d'Urbervilles is one of the best stories I've read, the movie is excellent, one of the best I've seen and is you are a Justine Waddell fan you'll love it even more. As another reviewer suggested the other two movies like Women in White, and Wives and daughters are brilliant as well.

    I must say this is one of my favourites becuase there is so much to the story, it goes up and down, and you may even be surprised at the end but I think that just makes it all the better..
    If you love this story and seen the movie yet haven't read the book then I'd recommend to read it, it fills in the little things. And if you have read the book and haven't seen the movie then you should get it because again the movie just brings the whole thing to life! After seeing the movie only, the story of Tess never quite left me, though after reading the book I've gotten so much more, her story means alot to me and reading about the personalities in the book the way the author described them was so interesting almost making me identify with her in so many ways.

    If I could give it ten stars I would!
    ...more info
  • Beautifully done
    My 17 year old granddaughter and I watched this lovely movie together. The acting was superb and the scenery gorgeous. Definitely a keeper....more info