Saturday, December 27, 2008

BBC's Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Directed by: David Blair (The Street, Giselle-Adam)
Written by: David Nicholls (Much Ado About Nothing, And When Did You Last See Your Father?)

James Bond girl Gemma Arterton (Quantum Of Solace, St Trinian's; above) is Tess in this 4-million-euro BBC serial which started last September, heralding (in the words of Sally William of the Telegraph) "a new generation of Thomas Hardy adaptations."

I wasn't really a fan of period films, despite the encouraging efforts of my senior highschool English teacher, who was obsessed with 19th century England and the World Wars. Until recently. It began with BBC's The Other Boleyn Girl, which I saw at first because of the costumes and Natalie Portman, and because Eric Bana has always ranked high in my list of beautiful men. And then Becoming Jane, because it stars James McAvoy. And then The Girl With the Pearl Earring, because I loved Colin Firth in Love Actually.

But I guess I look forward to see Tess not because of the finery (though the costumes were splendidly accurate) or the male actors (though Eddie Redmayne as Angel Clare sure looks dashing; above). I'll be waiting for the serial film to hit the Philippines because I want to see that brilliant flashback scene at the end, where Tess and Angel are at the Stonehenge, and they could see from afar the police advancing towards them. It is sunset.

"What is it Angel?" Tess says. "Have they come for me?" Then after that part when Tess solemnly whispers to Clare that she is ready, the scene fades to black and fades back into that scene with Tess dancing on a cliff with the Marlott girls.

But this time when Angel Clare passes by and gets asked by the girls to dance, his eyes fall upon Tess, who smiles at him. 'May I?' Angel asks. Then Tess laughs with delight. The Stonehenge scene is my favorite part of the book, but this ingenious flashback scene is disarmingly heartbreaking. I mean, Angel Clare could have saved Tess (and himself) a lot of trouble, if he had not been such a dork and asked Tess to dance that fateful day. I'm someone who worries endlessly about what-ifs.

sources and photo credits:

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