Tess of the D'Urbervilles (2008)

Movie Review

I have bumped into another film adaptation which requires efforts to digest, but gives you the experience of thinking. I don't mind watching 'heavier' films, because difficult things more likely create new neuron connections in your brain than something which is not even a challenge - I like to 'train' myself a little. Improvement is great, and if you would like to go ahead in life (no matter what field, maybe just because, or just for your personal satisfaction), sometimes you shall deal with activities that push you above your level. I like to push myself above mine, and I am a bit sick of American romantic comedies anyway, so when I found this movie, I thought 'yaay' let's get started immediately.

The film Tess of the D'Urbervilles is a 4-part series, actually, and is based on Thomas Hardy's classic novel with the same title. It's considered Hardy's masterpiece which critcises the late Victorian English society through a female character. When it firstly appeared, it provoked miscellaneous reviews as the novel is challenging the sexual morals of the English Victorian era.

While watching the movie, don't even count on a happy-ending: Hardy is famous for his depressing works. However, apart from the film's sadness and 'hardness', I have found it very interesting. Gemma Arterton plays the main character, just like in the movie Gemma Bovery I have already written about. I don't really wonder, she is a perfect choice for movies which have similar style. She is beautiful, expressive, and remains innocent whatever happens in the film's train of thought. The movie can be interpreted in many many ways, it is full of symbolism, not to mention Hardy's complicated, copious style, however, I think it is much easier to absorb by the film than by the novel.

But let's see the film a bit closer. Tess Durbeyfield is the eldest daughter of two uneducated peasant people who believe they have noble blood, since 'Durbeyfield' may stem from the surname of an extinct noble family called 'D'Urberville'. This assumption/knowledge, instead of helping the family, brings only misfortune upon it. Tess has a tragedic destiny (not even a bit), and it really seems she has made some higher powers quite eraged.

"I swear from the bottom of my soul,
I have never in my life intended to do any harm.
And yet these judgements come and I am punished,
again and again and again.
Well, I do not deserve this."

The movie basically tries to reveal the stupidity of the rigid morals applied to women in the Victorian England, and it is mostly shown by the relationship of Tess with two significant men in her life. Beyond society criticism, the film portrays unhealthy relationships very well even without trying to convince the audience about the opposite, it's getting almost surreal as the thread goes by. One of the guys, Alec, is cruel by nature, and destroys Tess in every way possible. Even though, he has the guts to claim he loves her.

"I have never loved you, Alec, and I never will.
I don't even hate you.
I feel nothing.
You are just dust and ashes to me now."

The other man, Angel, is a well-meaning person who loves Tess so much yet also destroys her by his idolising, disappointment and, finally, leaving. To see the story from Tess's side, there's something seemingly dangerous in her feelings as well: she loved as much, in as obsessive way that put her at a dangerous situation, eventually.

-I thought he would forgive me! He is such a good man...
-He is a man, Tess, just like the other one.
-He isn't like that! He has always been so good and true, it would have been a sin to deceive him...
-And yet you sinned enough to marry him!
-Because I wanted him!

Despite the film did everything to make me feel down in the dumps, I liked it. :) The elegant language usage gives you the possibility to improve your vocabulary, or just to enjoy how people may have spoken in a nice, formal way in the 19th century. Gemma Arterton, as an actress, provides a real visual experience by looking at her (I am heterosexual, but it's true) and I really liked Eddie Redmayne's play too who recently became the first man born in the 1980s to win an acting Oscar for playing Stephen Hawking in the film The Theory of Everything

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See you soon! :)

x Rose

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