Previously Played

Roman Polanski’s TESS

  • 1:00 4:30 8:00

$7 Member   $12.50 Regular

Starring Nastassja Kinski

A Pathé Restoration Supervised by Roman Polanski
Image restored by Éclair Group, Audio restored by L.E. Diapason

Roman Polanski’s TESS

(1980) Young girls with flowers in their hair follow village musicians down a 19th-century country road — as the seasons gloriously change in Thomas Hardy’s mythical “Wessex,” Nastassja Kinski’s Tess goes in search of possible aristocratic lineage with the d’Urbervilles, but her “cousin” Leigh Lawson is interested in something else. Will her eventual true love, parson’s son Peter Firth (Equus), understand? He will when he gets her letter... Remarkably faithful adaptation of Hardy’s classic novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles, steeped in love of nature and the novelist’s prescient understanding of women’s status in a world of male attitudes. With ravishing photography of Brittany standing in for Dorset (Polanski risked arrest in Britain), the Oscar-winning last work of Geoffrey Unsworth (2001, Becket, Cabaret), who died during production (Au Hasard Balthazar’s Ghislain Cloquet shared the Oscar for his relief work). With six nominations overall: Picture, Director, Film, Music, and also winning for Art Direction and Costume Design. Approx. 171 min. DCP.


Roman Polanski’s TESS



"One of the filmmaker’s gentlest, most sumptuous works. The madness and claustrophobia that had dominated Polanski’s acclaimed “apartment trilogy”—concluded in 1976 with The Tenant, in which the director himself plays the unraveling Parisian leaseholder of the title—are here supplanted by landscapes reminiscent of those by John Everett Millais and a protagonist who fiercely refuses to become a victim. Polanski the man will forever remain a divisive figure; Polanski the filmmaker can sometimes bridge that chasm."
– Melissa Anderson, ArtForum
Click here for full review.

"Somehow both EARTHY AND ETHEREAL, Roman Polanski’s 1980 adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s masterpiece features a young and very striking Nastassja Kinski as the lower-class beauty pushed and pulled between the affections of two very different men."
New York magazine

“A beautifully visualized period piece that surrounds Tess with the attitudes of her time — attitudes that explain how restricted her behavior must be, and how society views her genuine human emotions as inappropriate... Nastassja Kinski is just right for the title role. She has the youth, the freshness, and the naïveté of a Tess, and none of the practiced mannerisms of an actress engaged to ‘interpret’ the role. That’s good because Tess is a character who should stick out like a sore thumb in many scenes, and Kinski’s occasional shy awkwardness is just right for the story of a girl who attempts to move up in social class on sheer bravado.”
– Roger Ebert

“Miss Kinski powerfully resembles the young Ingrid Bergman, and she is altogether ravishing.... [She’s] more passive than Hardy’s Tess but linked just as unmistakably with natural forces.”
– Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“Seen in the context of Polanski’s career, something rich and strange, shaded into terror by the naturalistic absurdism that is the basis of the director’s style. It’s the familiar Polanski tale of an innocent adrift in a hostile, chaotic environment, though it is realized here with more subtlety and sympathy than he had managed in a decade.”
– Dave Kehr