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71 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite, captivating, unsurpassed film adaptation of Hardy
I write as someone with an English ancestry going back three centuries and a passionate love for Hardy's novels and poetry. I live within five miles of Dorset and have visited practically all the towns and villages mentioned by Hardy using his Wessex aliases. I was prepared to scoff at Tess - Polish director on the run from US police, a German girl in the title role,...
Published on January 19, 2000 by sarum48@aol.com

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148 of 162 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shabby Treatment of Tess - Columbia screws up again!
Roman Polanski's film of Tess finally makes it to DVD but in such a poor transfer that it hardly seems worthwhile. This is a film of rare beauty in so many ways and long awaited so why have Columbia given it such a cheap and nasty transfer to DVD.

The print is not new and not restored. The colours are bright and true but there are loads of artifacts, scratches,...
Published on October 23, 2004 by C. Porter


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148 of 162 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shabby Treatment of Tess - Columbia screws up again!, October 23, 2004
By 
This review is from: Tess (Special Edition) (DVD)
Roman Polanski's film of Tess finally makes it to DVD but in such a poor transfer that it hardly seems worthwhile. This is a film of rare beauty in so many ways and long awaited so why have Columbia given it such a cheap and nasty transfer to DVD.

The print is not new and not restored. The colours are bright and true but there are loads of artifacts, scratches, dots, jumps, speckles etc throughout the film.This is a 3 hour film and there are very good extras, 72 minutes worth, taking the running time to over 4 hours. Columbia decides to cram all this information onto a single disc and naturally the picture and sound quality suffer. If they had gone to a second disc this would be improved but the print used is still far from perfect.

Important also; this copy is not the 'roadshow' version that played the major cities on its initial release with the intermission and musical overtures, however they have left the exit music at the end but cut off the final few chords!!!

Even worse is the sound quality. This was one of the first major features to use 'Dolby Stereo'. On its initial release the sound was flawless with a very lively surround track and great depth that particularly showed off the luscious score by Phillipe Sarde. The print used here has not been enhanced for 5:1 and doesnt even seem to have been remastered for DVD. Throughout the film there are wierd low frequency rumblings and distortions, and more irritatingly 'hiss'. These episodes come and go but generally the sound balance is all wrong. When the surround does come to life it leaps into life but with strange sounds coming from strange places in the sound stage.During the Stonehenge sequence at the end of the film when there is supposed to be spiritual activity coming from the surround channel, on this DVD version sounds like a party going on nearby. Very disturbing at the climax of the film. The sound levels are inconsistent throughout - sometimes very loud followed by too quiet and I found myself consistently reaching for the remote.

This is yet another blunder by Columbia as it is sold as an overpriced SE. Which means that we are unlikely to see a decent transfer in the next 10 years.This is a shabby way to treat such a special and beautiful film after so many years of neglect. Buyer beware!
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71 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite, captivating, unsurpassed film adaptation of Hardy, January 19, 2000
By 
sarum48@aol.com (Salisbury, Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tess [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I write as someone with an English ancestry going back three centuries and a passionate love for Hardy's novels and poetry. I live within five miles of Dorset and have visited practically all the towns and villages mentioned by Hardy using his Wessex aliases. I was prepared to scoff at Tess - Polish director on the run from US police, a German girl in the title role, French locations and finance...even a mock Stonehenge. I was wrong, hopelessly wrong. Today I remain in total thrall to this movie, Roman Polanski and Nastassja Kinski. I believe it is an artistic masterpiece just as important in its own way as an Old Master painting or a Shakespearean sonnet. Tess has enriched my life, and, having it watched it at least 50 times, provides an enduring source of pleasure to me. Yes, there are moments that jar - Nastassja's occasionally-heard Teutonic accent as in "Let me see that ledder (letter)" and, in one hilarious moment, even balalaika music - but I can forgive them without the slightest hesitation. I know the area in which Hardy set Tess, and, astonishingly - as he filmed it in Normandy - Polanski has managed to recreate some Dorset settings with almost mystical skill. Marnhull, or Hardy's Marlot, for example, has a real-life church on a hill that can be seen for miles - so does the village as seen in the film. Was it accidental, or just another example of Polanski's passion for detail and authenticity for which he is justly renowned? Unfortunately, Nastassja has made some real lemons since Tess and sadly she may never turn in another performance of such outstanding brilliance. Or will she? Hardy's remaining works may give her that chance. How would she fare, for example, as Bathsheba in Far From the Madding Crowd? If you want my opinion, divinely.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful print of a great film, February 28, 2014
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This review is from: Tess (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD) (Blu-ray)
This is a review of the Criterion Blu-ray/DVD. First,amazon would not listen to me,they insist on saying it is in a 1.77:1 aspect ratio,it is in the proper 2.35:1 aspect ratio,so don't be put off by their description.

It is a wonderful transfer,it looks beautiful. The film itself is a tale that could not be told better. Of all the work Polanski has done,this is his finest film(though I am a big fan of Repulsion). There is a moment just over 16 minutes in where Tess is walking through trees that sent me back to seeing it in the theater-just a glorious shot. Nastassja Kinski is beautiful,and her acting is just the right tempo to fit the story. Understated,yet something is brewing underneath. All in all,a true work of art and the true art of storytelling.

I like Blu-ray/DVD combo sets,and if you loved this film,this is the set to buy. When I watch this I just can't get it out of my head. Tess is special,and this release gives it the treatment it deserves.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No weaknesses., February 28, 2014
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This review is from: Tess (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD) (Blu-ray)
Tess, now in its current Criterion blu-ray format, comes close to a perfect film because it has no soft spots, no weaknesses. The cast is superb. The filming is beautiful. The adaptation from novel to screenplay is true. The wardrobes amazing. The soundtrack just right. And the very tragic mood of Hardy's story has been perfectly captured by the director. This is a movie not to miss.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST MOVIE EVER MADE, August 19, 2004
By 
N. P. Judd (East Granby .Connecticut .) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Tess (Special Edition) (DVD)
I went to see this movie at the Odeon Southampton , England , the week it came out . It changed my life and not only re introduced me to Thomas Hardy but also set a benchmark for production values that no movie has ever come close to .

There is true elegance in every frame and the movie has a soundtrack to die for .

You need to own this DVD . You really do .

Neville Judd
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Beauty has its price...", October 1, 2004
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This review is from: Tess (Special Edition) (DVD)
Indeed, beauty does have its price. One of them it seems is notoriety, for why else should this consummate jewel of a film rest so unacknowledged in the pantheon of great epics? It wasn't a financial flop at the time of its original release, as it grossed close to $100 million at the US box office; nor was it critically denied as the recipient of three academy awards plus an Oscar nomination for best picture. Still very few people today evoke or even recall the majesty of Polanski's work here. It's a shame. One I hope will be partially rectified with this DVD's release.

"TESS" is one of the most stunning, memorable and emotional epics ever shot. It's a film that picks you up and carries you away to a pre-feminist era where even the most hardened sexual traditionalists will find themselves burning bras and advocating Steinem, Friedan, Walker and De Beauvoir.

This movie should be required viewing for any girl reaching the age of twelve. Not only will it teach them how to resist the lure of trading upon their youth and beauty as a means of advancement in life. It drives home the difficulties of regaining one's independence once such qualities have been exploited.

Wonderful work abounds in this production but it is Polanski's sober direction, Kinski's achingly earnest performance and Geoffrey Unsworth's and Ghislain Cloquet's extraordinary cinematography that carry the day.

"Once victim always victim, that's the law." - is the heartbreaking line Tess delivers to the evil Alec as he attempts to regain her favor amidst her own personal tragedies. The upper hand, briefly, is hers as he sneers his response with a mouth full of blood after being struck sharply by her heavy farm worker's glove. If no man will defend her honor then damn it she'll do it herself. You go girl!!!

P.S. While the film is first rate, this DVD transfer is not. Tess aficionados will notice that several edits have been made to the film, the most shocking being when Tess is picked up by Alec in his gig for transport to Trantridge. In the original film as Tess is being driven away her younger sister asks her mother "Is that the gentleman who's going to marry our Tess?" Whereupon the mother replies "God willing my girl, that's the one." On this DVD version, silence.

Also the music over the ending credits has been altered! Instead of the dramatic resurgence of Tess' tragic theme that had my heart in my throat as a teenager, I was aghast to hear a downbeat replaying of one of the soundtrack's minor themes, thoroughly robbing the film of its powerful Stonehenge set crescendo!

I love this movie so much that I am still giving it five stars but is this the best Columbia could do for one of its classics? Shabby treatment indeed for what merited a milestone! One can only hope that somehow Criterion will get their hands on the rights and give this work of genius the debut it deserves!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SUPERB, December 23, 1999
By 
R. Penola (NYC, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tess [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Tess is unlike any other movie made by Roan Polanski you are likely to come across: it is a sweeping, beautiful and deeply felt epic. Nastassia Kinski, accent completely forgivable, is stunning in this movie, and it makes sense that this was her springboard to notoriety. Hardy's story becomes a feast for the eyes and ears in this version of the compelling story, what with its spectacular location photography and romantic musical score by Sarde. For those of you who love big, old-fashioned epic romances, with more than a little touch of melancholy, you will love this movie.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer brilliance in video and audio. Great 4K restoration from our friends at Criterion!, March 3, 2014
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This review is from: Tess (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD) (Blu-ray)
After owning the BFI Region B blu ray from UK, this Criterion version looks more brilliant to me. The contrast in the BFI is too bright for me and Criterion has got this film looking awesome (even more brilliant on a 2160p display)! The blacks are nice and dark and the contrast doesn't blow out the whites. Could not ask for a lovelier picture. This is the original 172 theatrical cut and not the longer print of 186 minutes. Not sure if the 186 minute version is in circulation, but this cut works fine for me. This is Roman Polanski at his greatest. The soundtrack is also just as stunning in lossless DTS-HD 5.1 (the BFI version is flat Dolby Digital). The special features are awesome as well. It includes many interviews and talk shows with the director and other production members (and these aren't short by any means). The film and special features appear on one blu ray. The DVDs are split onto two discs (sorry did not view DVDs so I am not aware of the quality). The only thing missing is the brilliant director on a commentary track. I would love to listen to him talk about film making (more than what's allowed on the special features). He has great passion for the art.
If you are a fan of this classic, do your eyes and ears the favor of adding this great film from Criterion into your collection. This is one of the better blu rays I have seen from them (and I have seen a lot of them!). Simply amazing in every way.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Somber Version, but Quite Effective, November 19, 2005
By 
fra7299 "fra7299" (California, United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Tess (Special Edition) (DVD)
Tess of the D'Urbervilles represents one of the essential novels of the Victorian era. Roman Polanski's version of Thomas Hardy's novel is exquisite in its depiction of the mood that I believe this type of work wants to create. Tess, for all her weaknesses, does represent a tragic heroine. Some may argue that Polanski's Tess is a bit weak, but I don't think they are truly giving Natasha Kinski credit for creating a sensitive and innocent Tess.

Tess goes to the D'Urberville estate in the family's hopes of bringing wealth to their name. Alec, the son of the family, attempts many times to seduce young Tess, and finally, one night, rapes her. Alec, shameless, seems to come across as a "stalker" at points, trying to get her to love him while Tess leaves an unhappy life on the estate. She eventually returns home and tries to start life anew.

After a year of suffering, Tess, while working on a dairy farm, Tess meets, falls in love with, and eventually marries Angel Claire. This appears to finally be the saving grace in Tess' life, but both Tess and Angel have secrets from their past, and they both decide to reveal these on the first night of the honeymoon.

I really felt like this confession scene with Tess and Angel worked so well because of the camera angles. After Tess forgives Angel for having an affair with an older woman, the scene shows Tess in front of Angel while she tells him her secret of becoming pregnant with Alec's child and eventually having her son die. The disappointment and mood of Angel rings forth as we see Angel become more and more somber before finally stating "I'm going out" leaving the room, and, in effect, Tess' life.

From this point on, both Tess and Angel have their difficulties. Tess' struggles seem to be not only a burden for her individually, but also her family. One of the tragic themes of the film is that there are injustices in life, and we see this in how the Durbeyfield family struggles to live under a roof after their father's death, and how Tess falls deeper and deeper into despair.

The movie is quite lengthy (3 hours), but I think this is because Polanski wanted to get all the essential aspects of the novel included. Like some have already stated, the DVD is not the best quality, but I didn't notice too many problems with mine. Overall, this is an effective rendition of Hardy's novel, and it might not be exactly as Hardy would have liked it, but the integrity of the work is clearly demonstrated.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hardy onto Film, November 4, 2003
By 
amanda noce (Springfield, PA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tess [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This film was an extraordinary adaptation of Tess of the D'Urbervilles onto film. Roman Polanski took great pains, I'm sure, in keeping the integrity of Hardy's novel when writing/directing the screenplay. The thing that fascinated me most was the fact that the film was completely true to the book. Not a single detail was altered in the screenplay. I truly admire Polanski's ambition in keeping the movie so similar to the book. But, I feel that the movie itself is a bit cumbersome. The movie is 190 minutes in length! I appreciate the fact that Hardy's ideas weren't tampered with, but as a viewer, it is difficult to watch the entire film. I was forced to watch the film in increments because of its sheer length, but I would suggest watching the film in one sitting, so that the momentum of plot isn't lost.
Nastassja Kinski was an incredible asset to the film. Her acting was superb. Her appearance is so intense and her voice is clear; she is very easy to focus on. When I read the novel, I felt differently about Tess than when I watched Kinski play Tess. My original impression of Tess after reading the novel was that she was meek and submissive. I felt her family, Alec, and Angel easily controlled her. Kinski brought to the role an element of independence and determination that I didn't pick up on in the novel. Kinski portrayed the character Tess with such conviction and artistry. She had a fiery spirit and made Tess seem much more capable than the Tess I had picked up on in the novel. Kinski's Tess was very abrupt with Alec when he came onto her. She was also short with Angel when he came back from Brazil and wanted to be her husband again. Although the content of the plot is the same in the book, I felt that Kinski really made Tess's spirit come alive.
I would recommend this film to anyone who has read Tess of the D'Urbervilles. It is obvious that Polanski has great respect for Hardy because he kept the film true to the novel. For this reason, I think the film adaptation is superb and is worthy of viewing.
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Tess (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)
Tess (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD) by Roman Polanski (Blu-ray - 2014)
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