Tess (1979) - Rotten Tomatoes


Tess (1979)



Critic Consensus: A reverent adaptation of Thomas Hardy's novel, Tess marries painterly cinematography and unhurried pacing to create an epic ode to perseverance.

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Movie Info

A poor British girl finds herself seduced and abandoned by a handsome social climber then attempts to find happiness in marriage to a modest farmer. Her past catches up with her with tragic results in this period drama based on the classic Thomas Hardy novel Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

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Nastassja Kinski
as Tess Durbeyfield
Leigh Lawson
as Alec d'Urberville
Peter Firth
as Angel Clare
Tony Church
as Parson Tringham
John Collin
as John Durbeyfield
David Markham
as Rev. Mr. Clare
Rosemary Martin
as Mrs. Durbeyfield
Richard Pearson
as Vicar of Marlott
John Bett
as Felix Clare
Dicken Ashworth
as Farmer Groby
Tom Chadbon
as Cuthbert Clare
John Barrett
as Old dairy band
Sylvia Coleridge
as Mrs. d'Urberville
Arielle Dombasle
as Mercy Chant
Fred Bryant
as Dairyman Crick
Brigid Eric Bates
as Girls in Meadow
Jeanne Biras
as Girls in Meadow
Peter Benson
as Religious Fanatic
Josine Comellas
as Mrs. Crick
Forbes Collins
as New tenant
Patsy Smart
as Housekeeper
Graham Weston
as Constable
Lesley Dunlop
as Girl in benbouse
John Gill
as Landlord
Jacob Weizbluth
as Yokel at barn-dance
Marilyne Even
as Girl in benbouse
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Critic Reviews for Tess

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (8)

[Polanski's film] is textured and smooth and even, with lateral compositions subtly flowing into each other; the sequences are beautifully structured, and the craftsmanship is hypnotic. But the picture is tame.

January 2, 2018 | Full Review…

The film, like its source, is filled with pessimistic fatalism, but it spares no pity for the instruments of fate [...] What, if anything, this meant to Polanski remains unknowable.

February 25, 2014 | Rating: 4/5

Insufferably long, but very good in parts.

February 19, 2010 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Tess is a sensitive, intelligent screen treatment of a literary masterwork.

February 19, 2010 | Full Review…

Tess tells one rather more about its director's much publicised preoccupations than about Hardy's themes.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

This is a wonderful film.

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Tess

A resonant and visually stunning period piece about a beautiful but unfortunate young woman born in an ungrateful time and divided between two men who are bound to abuse her - and even if the film may feel too long, the cinematography and art direction are a marvel to behold.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

A not quite traditional take on Thomas Hardy's book, Polanski nonetheless breathes some fresh air on the material and makes it very intriguing.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer


Beautiful to look at, not just the scenery but the art direction as well but overlong and somewhat ponderous. Director Polanski's silent tribute to his late wife Sharon Tate at the end of the opening credits with a simple "To Sharon" after his credit is quite moving. She had left the Hardy novel with a note that she thought he would make a fine film of it when she headed back to the states just before her death.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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