Director Roman Polanski

Production year 1979

Length 186min.

Country France/UK


In 19th century England, a Dorset peasant, John Durbeyfield, discovers by chance that he is the last surviving descendant of an aristocratic family. Eager to profit from his newfound nobility, Durbeyfield sends his eldest daughter, Tess, to press his claim of kinship with the rich d’Urberville family. The young Alec d’Urberville, captivated by the beauty of this woman he calls “cousin”, agrees to employ her and sets about trying to seduce her. Tess ends up falling prey to Alec’s advances and returns pregnant to her parents’ home. She gives birth to a boy, who dies after a few weeks. To start anew, Tess leaves her village and finds a job on a farm where no one knows of her previous misfortune. There, she meets her true love: a pastor’s son called Angel Clare. Thinking that Tess is an innocent young peasant, he falls hopelessly in love with her, and despite the social gulf between them, asks for her hand in marriage. But on their wedding night, Tess confesses to Angel about her past. Appalled and unable to forgive her, Angel leaves Tess and sets sail for Brazil. For many months, Tess waits in desperation for her husband to return, working hard to earn enough for her family’s survival, until fate brings Alec d’Urberville back into her life.


Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski



Claude Berri


Gérard Brach, John Brownjohn, Roman Polanski, based on the novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Director of Photography

Ghislain Cloquet, Geoffrey Unsworth

Production designer

Pierre Guffroy

Music by

Philippe Sarde


Hervé de Luze


Alastair McIntyre, Tom Priestley


Nastassja Kinski, Peter Firth, Leigh Lawson, John Collin, Rosemary Martin

Production company(ies)

Renn Productions Timothy Burrill Productions SFP

Roman Polanski

Polish film director, producer, writer and actor. Having made films in Poland, Britain, France and the USA, he is considered one of the few truly international filmmakers. In the 1950s, he took up acting, appearing in Andrzej Wajda's A Generation (1955) before studying at the Lodz Film School. His early shorts such as Two Men and a Wardrobe (1958), The Fat and the Lean (1961) and Mammals (1962), showed his taste for black humor and interest in bizarre human relationships. His feature debut, Knife in the Water (1962), was one of the first Polish post-war films not associated with the war theme. The films Repulsion (1965) and Cul-de-Sac (1966), made in England and co-written by Gérard Brach, won respectively Silver and then Golden Bear awards at the Berlin IFF. In 1968, Polanski went to Hollywood, where he made the psychological thriller, Rosemary's Baby. In 1974, he again made a USA release - it was Chinatown. After Tess, which was awarded several Oscars and Cesars, he made several works in 1980s and 1990s prior to the noteworthy The Pianist (2002). For that movie, he won nearly all the most important film awards, including the Oscar for Best Director, Cannes FF's Palme d'Or, the BAFTA and Cesar Award.


Rower (1955, short), Break up the Dance (1957, short), Teeth Smile (1957, short), Murder (1957, short), Two Men and a Wardrobe (1958, short), When Angels Fall (1959, short), The Lamp (1959, short), The Fat and the Lean (1961, short), Mammals (1962, short), Knife in the Water (1962), The World's Most Beautiful Swindlers (1964, segment), Repulsion (1965), Cul-de-Sac (1966), The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967), Rosemary's Baby (1968), Macbeth (1971), What? (1972), Chinatown (1974), The Tenant (1976), Tess (1979), Pirates (1986), Frantic (1988), Bitter Moon (1992), The King of Ads (1993, segment, doc.), Death and the Maiden (1994), The Ninth Gate (1999), The Pianist (2002), Oliver Twist (2005), To Each His Own Cinema (2007, segment), GREED, a New Fragrance by Francesco Vezzoli (2009, short), The Ghost Writer (2010), Carnage (2011), A Therapy (2012, short), Venus in Fur (2013).

FILMS 2015