Search - Tess of the d'Urbervilles on DVD

Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Actor: Gemma Arterton
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2009     3hr 32min

A passionate, sensual and very modern version of Thomas Hardy's infamous novel, combining young, upcoming acting talent with recognisable and much-loved faces. When the beautiful and innocent Tess Durbeyfield is driven by ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Gemma Arterton
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: BBC Warner
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 01/13/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/2009
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 3hr 32min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 25
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

"The Snow It Melts The Soonest . . . . . . ."
Gypsy | Canada | 01/04/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"That haunting song has been stuck in my head ever since I saw this four-part BBC miniseries. It was a stroke of genius to incorporate this folk tune into the soundtrack (composed by Rob Lane), which sums up the mood and aura of this tragic tale of a young woman wronged so unjustly by two men. Gemma Arterton is wonderful as Tess Durbeyfield, probably Thomas Hardy's most well-loved heroine, exploited by her ignorant parents into claiming noble heritage and discarded by 19th century society. Hans Matheson is Alec Stoke-d'Urberville, the wealthy cad who violates her, unknowingly impregnates her with a child who doesn't survive babyhood and later comes back into her life as a supposedly reformed preacher. Eddie Redmayne is Angel Clare, the seemingly kind-hearted and tolerant parson's son who wins Tess's love but proves to be just as hypocritical as his religious family and his actions bring Tess to despair. As in most Hardy tales, tragedy looms a large shadow over the lives of his characters.

Arterton's Tess is matched perfectly by Matheson's Alec, who is given more depth than any of the earlier film adaptations. The dark and tormented essence gives you the sense how doomed these two characters really are - their actions and words toward each other leads to their downfall. Unfortunately, the same cannot be applied to Redmayne's Angel, who looks befuddled and lost more than half the time. There is a rushed directorial pace in the second installment that hurts the romantic appeal between Tess and Angel, and the love story element seems a bit forced as a result. Because of that, I didn't get the appeal of Angel in this one, or why Tess and her fellow dairymaids were in love with him, or why Tess takes the desperate course of action in order to get him back. Some of the modern dialogue used did take away from the affect of the story, and Redmayne seemed to have a hard time keeping up with Arterton performance-wise. Redmayne redeemed himself somewhat in the final episode but for the most part I was unimpressed with him. However, director David Blair must take some of the criticism, as the hurried scenes to establish the "romance" seemed to skim over the parts of the novel that gave the lovers the attachment to one another that eventually leads Angel to see the error of his ways and beg his wife's forgiveness. I was anticipating Alec's return so much that I found myself not really caring if Angel came back for Tess or not. In sharp contrast, the 1998 A&E/London Weekend Television production had me rooting for Tess and Angel's reunion even though I was aware of the outcome. I was so taken by Angel in that one, whereas here I found nothing in him to be slightly attractive or romantic. I sympathized with Tess completely and neither man deserved her, but at least in the other version and the novel I could see why she loved Angel and longed for him to return to her. I found myself almost rooting for Alec (I never thought I'd say that), because Matheson was so compelling and magnetic and he and Arterton generated such electricity, I couldn't take my eyes off them. Alec's fleeting conversion to Christianity and his sermon in the tent that Tess stumbles upon is foreshadowing of the path these two ill-fated characters will end up on. The moment he lays eyes on her again, his fatal attraction and twisted love for her resurfaces and consumes him, and Tess finds herself increasingly helpless to refuse his help after her father dies and her family is left destitute. Alec's wealth is the only way he can possess her and he is aware of that, but he is willing to get her the only way he can, only to discover that fate does indeed play a vengeful hand. It was also nice to see Tess revisiting her child's grave and placing fresh flowers upon it; her deeply felt sense of loss and rejection by both the church and her village is searingly devastating because it becomes all the more clear that she is victim of both society (in which women had few advantages) and fate. Having said that, Tess and Angel's reunion did not have the emotional impact it should have had, the sex scene was unnecessary, but the Stonehedge sequence was an emotional powerhouse for Arterton, as was the climax of her walking off to her fate with her signature tune heard wistfully in the background. The supporting cast was in top form, and while the cinematography was lovely, it could have emphasized far more considering how important landscape is in Hardy's work, as both the 1998 two part program and Roman Polanski's 1979 film have demonstrated. As a four-part miniseries, it had the opportunity to include more scenes from the novel and insight into character, particularly Angel, which would have helped the plot a great deal. However, it was good to see the mausoleum scene and the ending was heartbreaking and moving, although my tears were for Tess, her sister Liza-Lu, and, dare I say it, even Alec, but I felt nothing for Angel (although Redmayne's tearful breakdown was by far his best moment).

On the whole, this was a very good presentation, my second favorite version and very much worth seeing. Arterton and Matheson give tour-de-force portrayals; it would be great if they would co-star again, some have suggested as Cathy and Heathcliff in "Wuthering Heights" - I could definitely see that. And that song will linger on in your memory long after the final credits have rolled, as will the rest of the score.
A Haunting Story
Chibibluepenguin | San Francisco, CA | 01/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

I've never read the book before, and this was my first time watching a film adaptation of this story. Its funny because I accidentally started watching it, but within a few minutes I found myself captivated by this movie. By the end of the first two hours I found myself hating Alec for what he did to Tess. However, near the end I almost started liking him, which really surprised me. Even though he was a bad person his character was a tortured soul. He cared for Tess as much as he could care for anyone. He even tried to make things right by marrying her. I actually felt sorry for him as she kept rejecting him. I knew that he had never changed, but I felt that he really did care for her. Perhaps it was more so lust than true love that he had for her. I also felt sorry for Tess. I felt sorry for both of them if that is possible. I didn't quite understand the whole mistress thing though. I came to the conclusion that he wanted to marry her, but he couldn't because she was legally still married to Angel. She was his only lover though, so in theory they were married, but just not legally. Perhaps Alec didn't deserve death either. He told her that her husband wouldn't come back, but even Tess thought he wouldn't come back. I didn't think he was coming back either. I understand that she was exacting revenge upon the man who had essentially ruined her life. However, she also played a part in her own destruction. I felt her biggest downfall was telling Angel about her past. I suppose that was part of her characteristic purity. Angel was not as effective of a character as Tess, or Alec. I didn't hate him, or like him much. He was a wet mop of a character. His weakness was interesting though because it almost made it seem that Alec was more in love with Tess, or at least more passionate. Fate played a large part in everything else that happened to Tess. It seemed as though the murder of Alec was her way of finally taking fate into her own hands. Anyway, this movie had me crying for quite a while. The ending where she recreates the May Dance scene was also tragic. The only way for her to have had a happy ending would have been if Angel had fallen in love with her before she fell from grace. I took peace in the fact that at least she was set free in the end. In any case, this is a haunting story that lingers in the mind."
Another BBC Masterpiece
squeaks1111 | Boston, MA United States | 01/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"An outstanding performance by Tess and Alec, gorgeous scenery and costumes, stunning BBC classic. Loved it! Already have it pre-ordered for the release date. Alec- Hans Matheson- fabulous evil & tortured soul has been seen in some of his other works (The Virgin Queen & Mists of Avalon), I think he truly soars in this production. Tess is wonder, sweet and tragic, proud and practical all in one. Gemma really captures this. I did not like Angel, there was just too little chemistry, and often thought, why was this actor cast in this role?. Either way, this DVD is well worth every minute. Excellent production!"
Fairly Impressive Film Adaptation of a Masterpiece
Grace | Alameda, US, Canada | 01/13/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Tess of the d'Urbervilles" is one of my favorite books, and Tess is I dare say my favorite literary character. I loved the 1998 adaptation of "Tess" as soon as I saw it, and I was really excited to see if this newer, longer, (hopefully) fresher adaptation could possibly improve on an already beautiful version. At the same time, I was preparing myself to try not to dislike it. Happily, I can say: though it's still not a definitive adaptation, this version definitely holds its own.

Things "Tess '08" got right:

1. A great Tess
Gemma Arterton makes this character her own. While Justine Waddell's Tess was delicate and sensual, Arterton plays Tess with more bite. Both are valid interpretations of the character. Both, however, also excel at the highly emotional scenes. Tess is a sympathetic and brilliant character and Arterton definitely does the role justice

2. Very strong supporting cast
Though I still like the supporting cast of the '98 version more, I loved this version's portrayal of Tess's friends Marion and Izz. Tess's family members were also well chosen, and everyone at Talbothy's diary was great! Hans Matheson's portrayal of the morally ambiguous Alec d'Urberville is particularly noteworthy.

3. An extremely strong last half
While it has its rough spots, the whole movie is worth it for the last hour. It's an emotional rollercoaster. I challenge you not to get an ache in your heart.

A few things that did not please me:

1. A disappointing Angel Clare
Eddie Redmayne just did not do it for me. I was never convinced by Tess and Angel's romance, and the actor who played him was just...dull, and seemed slightly dim-witted.

2. Extremely changed scenes and awkwardly filmed scenes
Hello, "it's too late" scene, anyone? It was almost unrecognizable.
Sometimes, throughout the movie, the dialog got a little strange, or the pacing seemed a little off. Either too abrupt, or too drawn out.

Some final words:

This 2008 version had many good things going for it, particularly Gemma Arterton as Tess, and it had some great scenes in there, most notably the mausoleum scene and Stongehenge scene. But a weak Angel (Waddell and Milburne were sizzling together) and some awkwardly filmed scenes prevented this from being a terrific adaptation. Basically, the last episode redeemed the entire series; I can't gush enough over how good it was. BUT, overall, this was a weaker adaptation compared to the '98 (my personal opinion of course!) because of the pacing issues, added/changed lines, and imperfect casting choices. The fourth episode was by far the strongest, with Part 1 and Part 3 following.

I really enjoyed watching this mini-series, though, and I appreciate the effort to stick to the story and stay true to the characters. Now, if only one of the adaptations would include the pheasant scene!