This multiple-Oscar-winning film by Roman Polanski is an exquisite, richly layered adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles. A strong-willed peasant girl (Nastassja Kinski, in a gorgeous breakthrough) is sent by her father to the estate of some local aristocrats to capitalize on a rumor that their families are from the same line. This fateful visit commences an epic narrative of sex, class, betrayal, and revenge, which Polanski unfolds with deliberation and finesse. With its earthy visual textures, achieved by two world-class cinematographers—Geoffrey Unsworth (Cabaret) and Ghislain Cloquet (Au hasard Balthazar)—Tess is a work of great pastoral beauty as well as vivid storytelling.
Following a nervous breakdown, Gwen takes up the job of head teacher in the small village of Haddaby. There she can benefit from the tranquillity and peace, enabling her to recover fully. But under the facade of idyllic country life she slowly unearths the frightening reality of village life in which the inhabitants are followers of a menacing satanic cult with the power to inflict indiscriminate evil and death if crossed.