Monday, January 12, 2009

Oh, Tess

So did anyone else out there in the great beyond watch the Masterpiece Theater showing of Tess of the D'Urberville's? My DH and I spent last Sunday evening and the previous Sunday evening enjoying a new film version of that sad story.

And when I say sad, I mean sad.

If you are not familiar with the story-- I knew prior to watching what it was about thanks to AP English in high school -- it is about a girl named Tess who lives in Victorian England. She is a Righteous (with a capital 'R') country girl for whom everything goes wrong.

And when I say wrong, I mean wrong.

It starts with her being raped. Then everyone blames her for the rape (including her parents). She has a baby as a result of the rape (she names him Sorrow). The baby dies. She meets her dream guy (his name is Angel -- the author has no qualms using character names for imagery). She marries Angel without telling him about the whole rape/baby experience. Not that she did not want to tell him, but she was very afraid of his reaction what with everyone else blaming her. So right after being married she tells him and he pretty much walks out on her. Long story short, it keeps going downhill.

And when I say down, I mean down.

Execution down.

Yep. She gets executed. I won't give anymore of the story away. But I think you deserve to know this is one that does not have a happy ending. In fact, of all of Thomas Hardy's books only one has a happy ending (Far From the Madding Crowd, in case you want to read it).

Still, Tess is definitely worth the read and the movie. There is beautiful cinematography in the new version on Masterpiece. And they did a good job bringing in a lot of the symbolism from the book. Watch for symbolism involving feet/shoes, country vs. town living (i.e., traditional vs. modern), and religion (particularly life and death).

I can't wait until next week on Masterpiece Theater -- another classic to be seen: Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.

Scripture of the Day: Hebrews 11:1


  1. I refuse to read this book or watch a film version of it. I have read sad stories, I have watched sad movies, it doesn't bother me--but I just can't do it with Tess. Don't know why she is different but I guess it is b/c I heard all about how sad it was when I was so young and didn't know yet I could survive it. Yet, my prejudice against it lives on. I would rather watch Kevin Kline and Jennifer Garner in Cyrano de Bergerac even though the few glimpes of it I got showed that Jen didn't get Roxanne right AT ALL. Then again, perhaps the author intended it be broad comedy (and by broad, I mean broaaaaad!)

  2. Dang--I need to pay more attention to what's on Masterpiece. (I missed all the Jane Austen movies last year. Grr.)

    As sad as it is, I loved reading Tess. Hardy is a gloomy but excellent writer. I may have to read Far From the Maddening Crowd now.

  3. I LOVE to read. and I love reading classics like these. But when I was in high school, I hated being told what to read and would only complete books that really got my attention right off. That was me being a twerpy teenager. (I'd read Austen instead, which no one ever assigned.) I finally read Jane Eyre this past summer. Tess was one that I couldn't get through in HS. Same thing with Wuthering Heights. However, my dear husband gave me a copy of Wuthering Heights for Christmas. Guess I need to crack it open.

  4. OH MAN!! Now I want to see it. Will they reshow it?
    :) Thanks for the review.

  5. I have not seen the film Oh Tess yet, but the photography alone looks amazing!


Comments are much appreciated!