What are the similarities and differences concerning Tess of the D'Urbervilles movie and the written book?

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kavitamathai | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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Can you please clarify which film version you are using as there is more than one? The most recent is the 2008 mini-series. There is also the 1998 version directed by Ian Sharp. The most well-known is the 1979 version directed by Roman Polanski with Natassja Kinski as Tess. This was not filmed in England but in France. It was also made in the wake of the horrific murder of Polanski's wife, Sharon Tate (see the film's dedication). There are, of course, nuances in the presentation of the characters in each of the versions but if you are working with the Polanski version then the personal tragedy that shadowed the director is important as is the fact that he does not film in Dorset. Landscape is integral to Hardy's novels and the fictional world of Wessex that he creates. Tess is a symbolic character in relation to the landscape which itself become a character. The question is whether Polanski translates this on to the screen effectively given that he is filming in France, not England. Another key point of difference is that typically Hardy's novels are not as sexually explicit as a 20th century text and certainly not as explicit as Polanski's films tend to be. If you can clarify which text (film) you are working with then I can give you a fuller response. In any case any film/novel comparison should consider not only consider narrative sequencing, character and setting but also the use of music, lighting and camera angles. I hope this is a starting point for you.

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