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on February 28, 2014
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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on February 28, 2017
What's in a name? Well to farmer John Durbeyfield it means everything and when a local church parson tells him that he might be related to the aristocratic family named "d'Urberville" it sets in motion a series of events involving his eldest daughter Tess that has all the elements of a tragic Shakespearean play. But it's not Shakespeare. "Tess of the d'Urbervilles"(published in 1891) is one of the many novels written by author Thomas Hardy that explores class distinctions in Victorian England where young women were brought up to marry into wealth and family name meant everything. If you were a strong willed peasant girl the odds of achieving such a life were dim if not impossible. In 1979, director Roman Polanski brought Hardy's masterwork to the screen in a sensitive and intelligent film adaptation that ranks as one of his best films. Criterion has now brought "Tess" to Blu-ray for the first time and the results are simply astonishing. According to the liner notes from the enclosed booklet: "This digital transfer was created in 4K resolution from the 35mm original camera negative" which makes for a pristine picture from start to finish(Bitrate: 18.66). Using French countryside locations in place of Hardy's semi-fictional region of Wessex, colors just pop off the screen. Greens, yellows, blues and reds are vivid and look exceptional on Blu-ray. The Oscar winning cinematography by the Geoffrey Unsworth and Ghislain Cloquel is a marvel to behold with every scene looking like a painting(Sadly, Unsworth died during the production and did not live to see his final work). The period costumes by Anthony Powell(also Oscar winning) are very impressive and colorful with even the smallest details being highlighted, especially the red dress worn by Tess during the film's climax. The Audio(DTS-HD MA 5.1) is another delight with the sounds of the countryside(threshing machines, horse carts, etc.) adding to the flavor of the story. The acting is top notch held together by an absolutely incredible performance by Nastassia Kinski. Only 17 at the time of filming, Kinski's beautiful features are on full display and it's obvious from the first scene that she and the camera were meant for each other. Her instinctive approach to her role as Tess Durbeyfield is one of the best performances on film. "Tess" is 171 minutes(Aspect ratio: 2.39:1) and only contains the following subtitle: English SDH. Special features include: (1) A 1979 French television episode about the shooting of the film(49 min.); (2) A documentary about the making of "Tess" (53 min.); (3) A 1979 British television interview with director Roman Polanski; (4) Three short documentaries of the making of "Tess" and the Original Theatrical Trailer. There is an informative booklet by Professor Colin MacCabe that is also included. This Blu-ray package is a Criterion "Dual Format" edition that includes both the Blu-ray & the DVD.(Please note that Criterion has since released a "stand alone" Blu-ray of "Tess" that comes in a standard clear transparent case for those who just want the Blu-ray). "Tess" is another outstanding Blu-ray presentation by Criterion and one of their best releases. It comes very highly recommended.
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on February 28, 2014
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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on June 29, 2014
If you’d care to feast your eyes on Nasstaja Kinski at age 17, when she was hypnotically beautiful, this is the film to watch. This production feels authentically nineteenth-century. When Polanski made it, there were places in France, locked in a time warp, that resembled the England Thomas Hardy set his novels in. Nothing in the film betrays the fact that it was produced in the late twentieth century. Every detail is perfect. It is a grand illusion made even grander by Blu-ray technology. If you enjoy movies (like Days of Heaven) filmed during the magic hour, this is the one to watch.

At his best, Polanski was brilliant, and Tess is among his best. Be forewarned, however: Hardy created characters trapped by their social circumstances, and the endings they face are not happy ones. This film is about personal descent.
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on March 20, 2018
This movie truly is a masterpiece. I am a fan of Thomas Hardy. "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" is my favorite novel he wrote. I was looking for a movie that was as true to the novel as possible. This movie was recommended to me by a scholar of Thomas Hardy. I was not disappointed.

As a fan of the novel, I loved how close to the novel this movie was. While Tess's character seems, at times, emotionless in the film, I feel it adds on to the concept of Tess being an oppressed woman of her time. I did dislike some of the parts that differed from the book, but it does not make the movie a horrible adaptation.

This specific bundle, the book and DVD, is great for either a fan that wants a pretty edition or a person interested in reading the novel and seeing a movie adaptation.
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on April 7, 2014

First to draw attention is the sublime packaging of the Criterion Collection's release of Roman Polanski's TESS: in particular the haunting visage on the box cover of Tess as portrayed by Nastassja Kinski. This face can magnetically cross store aisles and hypnotically pull one towards it. Who is this mysterious woman named Tess? She is lovely, a living work of art - but she is not smiling, not happy. No. In the masterful screen-grab used to perfect poetic effect for this cover, Tess looks mostly...lost. She looks at whomever looks at her with past darkness over her left shoulder and nothing but fog before her when she must eventually turn her head and face her uncertain future. Her look is more resigned than expectant, more doubtful than certain, much more lost than ever having been found. If the essence of a film may be captured in one image, this is that image for the tale of Tess.

Very few movies truly attain the peak of perfection in all of their elements: story, acting, photography, music, costuming, set design and so forth. Kubrick attained it with his period piece, BARRY LYNDON, in 1975. And here, in Polanski's possible reply to Kubrick's challenge, we have another period piece that is an unmitigated masterpiece with nary a false note in the entire cinematic symphony that this film undoubtedly is.

TESS was made in 1979 before the crippling temptations of CGI came to distract and "direct" directors. The land in this film is real - the sky is the true thing - you can almost inhale the fragrance of everything from grassy lawns to rainy nights to barn stalls - and the trees, you can almost feel the shade of them. The rooms are all there as well! Not half real and the rest cyberly painted in post-green screen. In the extremely interesting extras herein one will see how arduous Art and the attainment of its perfection truly can be. The several extras explore the making of this film quite extensively and always interestingly. And listening to Polanski talk film is like listening to a Renaissance master discuss his paints and canvas.

Some have criticized the acting of Ms. Kinski in the titular role. Some say she is one-note, lacking in emotional range. But those who think this are missing the point, at least with regards to her performance in this film. Tess, through the vagaries of fate, finds herself facing death before she has truly had the time to ever live a life all her own. Tess is putty molded in the minds of men. She is what the men in her life think her to be, not what she is or could be. Even when she finds herself a murderer, she becomes one in a daze - and kills because some bit of her knows on some level that throughout her short years she has been killed, over and over again. That is why - when the police come to arrest her - she is ready. People who are truly alive are never really ready to die. But Tess, who never grew to be more than a beautiful woman in the eyes of men who could never see or care to see the stirrings of a soul within, has never been truly alive, truly alive to herself most of all. So Ms. Kinski's vacant, vapid performance is pitch perfect - and it conveys the utter ambiguity and loneliness of a spirit stunted by its vacillating surroundings and circumstances.

It may be cliched to say they don't make movies like this any more. Nonetheless, it is mostly very true. So if you haven't yet met Tess, don't let this pass by. And if you are looking for a movie that has been as artfully and carefully composed and created as a Leonardo da Vinci masterwork, cross the aisle to the haunting face and pick up an authentic crown jewel of cinema.
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VINE VOICEon May 22, 2015
What a gorgeous film! The combination of the beautiful soundtrack, the breathtaking cinematography, and Hardy's heartbreaking story combine to create the near perfect viewing experience. I'm a huge fan of the source material as I consider Hardy to be one of the greatest writers who ever lived, and this film captures the tone of his novel quite faithfully. This is a testament of the power of film as a genre of artistry because watching this film is like 3 hours in an art museum. It's one of the most visually captivating films I've ever seen. This Criterion Blu-ray version is the best this wonderful film has ever looked. A must have for any collection.
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on March 8, 2013
THIS is why I am so, so glad that I have a Region-Free Blu Ray- DVD Player, so that I can take advantage of Notable Favorite Movies that I have seen in the Theater, when it first came out, and then rented, and then....... lost track of One that I ALWAYS meant to get. Well, NOW I Have "her", and I watched her tonight on my Region Free Australian Import DVD, and once AGAIN.......

I was transported back to when I first saw Roman Polanski's Very Faithful, and Majestic, Interpretation of Thomas Hardy's Novel of "Tess of the d'Ubervilles"; which is a particular Favorite of mine of all of Thomas Hardy's Novels, and most of them have ALL been made into theatrical films, ( "Jude" from Thomas Hardy's "Jude, the Obscure", "The Mayor of Castor Bridge", "The Return of the Native", etc...) and if not Full-Blown Theatricals, then they ALWAYS get the "Masterpiece Theater Treatment" which is something that I Very Much relish as well. ) And, this one did too, I might add.

At any rate, Roman Polanski's "Tess' is so visually striking, and sumptuous, it is breath-taking! He does EXACTLY what a truly great director should do with literary masterpieces, stay true to the book, and let the adaptation of the book, and the cinematography, and of course, the actors and actresses do their very best work. Stay on the Target of the faithful Book Adaptation, but focus on the story-telling, let the Story unwind with all the power of the visuals, and the power of the interpretation of the Director, and that of the Actors/ Actresses, and let them do their best to remain faithful to the Book as well.

Roman Polanski manages, once again, to pull this delicate balance off with spectacular success! Thomas Hardy would be very Proud of this cinematic Masterpiece of his beautifully-wrought Tragedy; and it is, and at the end of this very long, but very essential part of the story-telling, ( it is a long movie, at 165 minutes ) but it is necessary to give the film it's "head" to lead to it's very sad, but very real, end.

It deserves it's 5-star Rating, and "Tess" won three Academy Awards, in 1979, for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Costume Design, and it's sad that the Very Young, Nastassja Kinski, didn't win for Best Actress that year. Obviously, I Very Highly Recommend this Movie, it's a Must-see! ( and a "Must Get", too! IMHO )

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on January 22, 2018
She is perfect because of her flaws and her true love does not realize it until all hope is lost. Thomas Hardy expressed love for the female entity long before it was vogue to do so. Kinski brings his descriptions to unearthly light in the film. What can love be if not truth revealed without lacquer?
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on January 16, 2018
As far as adaptations go, this one is pretty perfect. Faithful, almost scene for scene, to the book. Lovely settings, great acting (perfect Tess). Great to watch when you're in the mood for a little Hardy but not in the mood to read/reread.
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