As beautifully photographed and finely acted as "Tess" may have been, at a gruelling 3-hour running time, its pace was far too passive for it to securely hold one's rapt attention right through to its tragic ending.

Set during the Victorian period (in Dorset, England), "Tess" was adapted for the screen (by director Roman Polanski) from Thomas Hardy's 1891 novel, Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

The sensuously beautiful Nastassja Kinski (at 18) played the title role of the strong-willed peasant girl, Tess.

Events in the story are set into motion innocently enough when a local clergyman informs a simple farmer, John Durbeyfield, that the town historian has linked his lineage to actual descendants of the D'Urbervilles, a noble family whose ancestry goes all the way back to William the Conqueror.

"Tess", which was filmed in 1979, won Oscars for cinematography, art direction and costume design.

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