|Gemma Arterton plays Tess d'Urbervilles in the 2008 BBC Miniseries|
BBC Miniseries version
of Tess d'Urbervilles
f. Gemma Arterton (2008)
So I've been watching a couple "brit coms" on the Hulu Plus "British" channel, and one night I thought, "Hey, I wonder if they have all those great BBC miniseries where they do classic novels? Answer, yes. They do. Thomas Hardy published his novel in 1891, but unless you know that it would be hard to guess it, because the book is set in the 1880s (maybe earlier?) and all the 'action' takes plays in rural England. What I like about Thomas Hardy is that his shit is DARK. There is hardly a single happy moment during the whole of Tess whether it be the book or miniseries. Watching it spool out on the television, it almost seems like Hardy is trying to punish some Tess-like woman who did him wrong when he was younger.
The central theme of Tess, for me, is that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Tess is told early on that she belongs to an ancient, hallowed family, and this knowledge spurs what can only be called a series of poor life choices: she gets raped, has a baby, baby dies, becomes a milk maid, gets married to a dude who doesn't know she has a dead baby, she tells him against all advice, he freaks out, etc. etc. etc.
Of course, it all ends in murder, and Tess being executed for murder. Her travails almost reminded me of what the lead actress in a Lars Von Trier movie typically has to put up with. There is something unapologetically modern about the darkness of Hardy, even if his plots and settings are quintessentially Victorian, and this miniseries captures that perfectly. And Gemma Arterton isn't half bad. She certainly has "quivering with repressed desire" down to a formula.
Sorry about the utter lack of SD/so cal local music coverage this month!