Quality film news, reviews and features
1st February 2013 12:00:00
Posted by Anthony Nield

Roman Polanski's Tess in March

News
On 18 March the BFI will release Tess, the triple Oscar-winning 1979 adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, directed by Roman Polanski (Chinatown, The Pianist). This beautiful-looking film, mastered from a stunning 4K ultra high resolution digital restoration, is presented in a Dual Format Edition, bringing it to Blu-ray for the first time in the UK. Special features include three documentaries covering the adaptation, the technical challenges and the filming experience.

This faithful screen rendering of the classic Victorian-era romantic novel, by Academy Award-winning director Roman Polanski (Chinatown, The Pianist), captures with compassion the painful cruelty of love. Unavailable in the UK for several years, the BFI is proud to release Tess for the first time on Blu-ray, in a stunning new restoration (premiered at last year's Cannes Film Festival) that is the best the film has ever looked.

Nastassia Kinski gives a career-defining performance as Hardy's heroine, with strong support from Peter Firth (Equus, The Hunt for Red October, Spooks) as Angel Clare and Leigh Lawson (Being Julia, Casanova, Silent Witness) as Alec d'Urberville. Geoffrey Unsworth and Ghislain Cloquet's exquisite Oscar-winning photography brings the author's Wessex setting vividly to life. Although filmed in France, Wessex was painstakingly re-created.

The film was nominated for five Oscars and three BAFTAs, eventually winning Oscars for Art Direction, Cinematography and Costume Design (the latter won by Anthony Powell, whose original designs are seen here in a short film), a BAFTA for Cinematography and also a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film.

Hardy's enduring 1891 novel continues to sell strongly and last year booksellers reported a huge spike in sales after its appearance and significance in the 4 million-selling erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James.

Special Features:

• New 4K digital restoration
• Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
• Tess: From Novel to Screen (Laurent Bouzereau, 2004, 29 minutes, DVD only): Polanski on the adaptation of Hardy's classic novel with contributions from Hardy scholars and cast and crew
• Filming Tess (Laurent Bouzereau, 2004, 26 mins, DVD only): cast and crew discuss the technical challenges they faced
• Tess: The Experience (Laurent Bouzereau, 2004, 20 mins, DVD only): those who worked on Tess discuss their experiences
• Costume Designs (2013, 2 mins): Anthony Powell's award-winning designs
• Original theatrical trailer
• Illustrated booklet with essays and credits


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About Anthony Nield
Anthony hails from Cheltenham and has been writing about film for the best part of a decade. His particular obsessions include British and experimental cinema, non-fiction, and films that have fallen by the wayside. You'll find him reviewing such works in the DVD and Blu-ray sections, plus the occasional feature.