Monday, January 12, 2009

Tess Interacts

A tesseract is a cube in four dimensions, I learned back in my sci-fi days. Hard to describe, impossible to draw, but a masterwork of things existing in the same space as themselves. So it has gone this week in entertainment-ville.

I rented "Tess" last week on a whim (the 1980 version by Roman Polanski, starring Natassja Kinski) and it was superb. Bang on the people, the land and the garb (I haven't read the book) of Hardys 19th cen Wessex (I have read his other books). I kept thinking, why didn't I see ads for this on the telly? Well, it is because it was made 30 years ago! In fact, Sharon Tate was supposed to be Tess... and we all know what happened to her. Anyway, it was a period film where no influence from the outside world filtered in... timeless.

But that isn't the funny thing. The funny thing is that the next night, when I went to re-watch it, PBS was showing... "Tess of the d'Urbervilles". Their version seems to be in 3 or 4 2-hour parts ("Tess" is 3 hours), and it is shot-for-shot, word-for-word, costume-for-costume, nearly identical to the Polanski version. It is dead uncanny. The only bad bit is only one of the cast is using the correct accent. Either the book only has 29 lines, all of which show up in both versions, or someone was making a miniseries in "tribute" to the film.

Either way, it has been a Hardy-har-har weekend. I feel the urge to pick up "The Return of the Native" again.

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