So, I happened to catch the first half of “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” last week on PBS Masterpiece Classic and was so enthralled I had to watch the two hour conclusion last night. Since I have not read Thomas Hardy’s book on which this was based, I was completely shocked by what happened in the end. If you had more important things than watch part two, I sum it up, after the jump. [SPOILER ALERT!]The first hour and a half were just sad. When Tess tells Angel on their wedding night about how she had sex with Alec d’Urverville, he completely rejects her and goes off to Brazil without her. I don’t even think they consummated their marriage.
Tess goes to live with her parents and siblings again, but eventually leaves and works for a horrible, scary man. When her father dies, she goes back home and Alec d’Urberville comes to see her, trying to make amends for what he had done to her years ago. He asks her to marry him. It’s not sweet though — he is totally a dirty scoundrel who sees Tess as an object. She keeps saying, “no, no, no,” but when Tess and her family have nowhere to live, her mother says that Tess will marry Alec. It is so sad because the family really doesn’t have any other options.
Meanwhile, Tess’s husband Angel Clare comes back from Brazil and tries to track Tess down, realizing that what he did to her was horrible. He finally finds her and it comes out that she is married to Alec and her life is basically over. After he leaves, Tess goes and tells Alec that her husband is back (he always thought she was lying about having a husband). They get into an argument, and Tess, who has seemed fairly docile during the preceding 3.5 hours, stabs him! He is found to be dead when blood drips through the ceiling to the floor below, which is totally gross.
Tess goes and finds Angel and they start running from the police (and finally do the deed along the way). But, alas, they cannot run fast enough. The police catch them, and Tess tells Angel to marry her sister. They didn’t show it, but I’m pretty sure Tess was executed.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM WATCHING THIS FOUR-HOUR MOVIE: 1) It totally would have sucked to be a woman back in the day, and I have no idea how anyone could have lived with so many constraints. To be so dependent on men, and have to do their bidding — UGH! — I just don’t think I’d ever be able to handle that. I am extremely happy to be living in our current time period. 2) I think I need to read Hardy’s novel to fully grasp all of the story’s nuances. 3) On a less serious note, I wish my hair looked like Tess’s. She has great bangs.