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Trishna

Reviewed by
June 2012, no. 342

Trishna

Reviewed by
June 2012, no. 342

Choosing to set a screen adaptation of Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891) in contemporary India might seem like an almost perverse shift, or an over-determining decision. But for British film-maker Michael Winterbottom, there is consistency and history of a sort. It is his third Thomas Hardy adaptation, and his fourth feature shot on the subcontinent. In re-imagining and relocating Tess, he has adhered closely to certain key elements and incidents of the novel, and dispensed with others – notably questions of religion, faith, and fate. Yet, in the end, the most significant transformation is not about geography or culture or time: it is the condensation of two main characters into one. Alec d’Urberville, the wayward idler who seduces Tess, and Angel Clare, the compulsively virtuous youngman she loves, ‘the earnestest man in Wessex’, have been distilled into a single, somewhat problematic figure.

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