Director: Roman Polanski

Cast: Nastassia Kinski, Peter Firth, Leigh Lawson, John Collin

France 1979 | Colour | 180mins | Drama | Romance

Avaliable on: DVD, DCP

Roman Polanski undertook Tess, in memory of his murdered wife Sharon Tate, when seeking refuge in Paris after fleeing the USA. The adaptation was fraught with problems, ranging from the death of cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth in mid-production, to appalling weather conditions and the need to recreate the Dorset countryside beyond the UK. It became the most expensive French movie of its time. Yet from these difficulties arose something magnificent. The tragedy of a woman ‘more sinned against than sinning’, Tess sets off at a leisurely pace, then grips the audience midway before reaching its devastating conclusion. Some critics have struggled with it, but the film is as luminous as a Pre-Raphaelite painting and has at its heart an unforgettable performance by the 17-year-old Nastassja Kinski as Tess. This superb 4K digital restoration by Pathé, Eclair Group and Le Diapason was approved by Polanski. - Jane Giles