It never changes, does it?

Masterpiece Classics has been airing Tess of the D’Urbervilles, which I had read over the summer, and as I missed the live broadcast I have been watching it online. I finished up the first part last night, which ended right before the wedding, and I’m honestly not sure I can continue.

I really liked Tess’s character in the book, finding her very sympathetic and real–she has a good heart and tries so hard to do what is best for those around her before herself, but falls prey to human failings. Gemma Arterton has made me love the character even more, and the movie definitely portrays her as a victim caught in the web fate has spun for her.

I also like Angel’s character a bit more, too, though the second part will most likely change that. He seems less a parson’s son and more a farmer, filled with life and vibrancy rather than ideas, freckles sprayed across his browned cheeks. It is a direct contrast to Alec’s pale skin and dark hair, which are actually similar to Tess’s features. I wonder if casting was done with this in mind, or if it is just coincidence that most of the other characters are blond.

It’s interesting, having read the book, to note the interpretation, especially in terms of Alec’s character. There is no ambiguity in the night forest scene, and it is clear that he wants Tess only for her looks. He does not even bring up marriage with her. I also got the impression that Sorrow became sick because she forgot him in the field, which didn’t seem to happen in the book.

For some reason the story resonates with me. It seems like she can never escape, no matter what she does, even though she and Angel have a chance at love and happiness together right now. Even though I know what happens I find myself desperately hoping that things will turn out differently, that this is an alternate universe where the situation changes for the better.

I almost don’t want to watch the rest, but it seems I must at least for those brief, “if only” days at the end.

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Published in: on January 17, 2009 at 3:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

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