Film: 9217

History | 1970 | Sound | Colour

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Synopsis:

THE WRITER’S JOURNEY
The story of Tess of the D'Urbervilles tracing Tess's walk to find Angel Clare - through the landscape of Dorset, taking in various points of interest on the way. Much moody music and shots of nature and a soundtrack of poems by Hardy and narration from the Tess novel. Rather washed out colour throughout, tending towards brown tones - early colour production. Some good footage of a modern day pheasant shoot.

Masted ship logo of Westward Television in the 1970s.

Shot at sunrise of bare stalks. More bare stalks on a heath. At sunrise looking over the dark silhouettes of dried heath – moving in towards the brightness of the rising sun – voice over begins the story of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Silhouettes of bare trees against a bare, bright sky. The surface of a pond – as we are told that this is the story of Tess’s 15 mile walk across Dorset using the words of Thomas Hardy. Sunrise over a small pond with bare trees in the background – caption “A Winter Journey” – then losing the caption we move into towards the silhouette of an oak tree next to the gable end of a cottage.
A slope of a hill with the sky at sunrise behind – we move in and see a lonely figure walking up the slope towards a few grazing sheep as we hear the words of Hardy’s poem “Nature’s Questioning.” – the flock of sheep become more visible as the figure approaches – the flock clears to the right as the tall figure in long coat detaches itself, landscape opens up to show the full brightening sky. A heavily wrapped up Tess walks towards camera wearing scarf on her head – a long coat and boots. Sun rises over the horizon between the silhouettes of two bare trees – with plaintive orchestral music. Women’s boot clad feet stride along a dry an rough track – her laced up boots plastered with caked mud – also visible is the laced trimmed hem of her flowery dress – she passes and we see her from behind with her coat tightly belted. From a distance, the small figure walks along the edge of a furrowed field – moving in to see Tess closer up - commentary tells us Tess’s family history and how she was seduced by the son of the family she went to work for – the d’Urbervilles – and had a child by him so returned home.
The presenter is now seen leaning against an open metal field gate – behind is a large house- he wears a tweed hat and brown jacket, pressed trousers and a polo necked jumper under another V-necked jumper, much in the style of the 1970s – he recounts more of the story of Tess, telling of how she fell in love with Angel Clare and how, after telling him of her seduction, her marriage to him ended and he went to Brazil. The lower slopes of a furze covered hill, a bare narrow track along its bottom slopes, green fields in the background – we see the small figure of Tess walking along the track as she supposedly is walking to Emminster to ask her in-laws for news from Brazil of Angel – commentary from the text of the novel. Tess walks along the dirt track. A seed head seen close up and then Tess is seen walking along the track behind it. From above, Tess walks along the track as the view opens up to show fields behind. Misty fields in the background with bare boned trees as Tess comes into view over a rise in the field . A deer runs across the open countryside. A single bird flies over the trees on the heath. Two Great Tits on bare twigs in a tree. Tess walks along the edge of a field with dead bracken along its edge – she looks out. A bird flying past tree tops. Head and shoulders of Tess in her blue head scarf moves to a close up as the commentary talks of her as “a figure of guilt”. She pauses by some bracken stalks and moves the fronds aside finding one single purple flower amongst the dead plants. Five petalled purple wild flower as the female read gives us words from the poem “The Last Chrysanthemum”. Close up we see the fronds of bracken, then its upright stem - sepia coloured . A bare twig and the purple flower which is probably ragged robin. Ragged robin. Closer of the flower head of the ragged robin. Through tree trunks we see Tess approach – we see her make her way above Blackmore vale’s fields - more narration from the novel .

Three people on horse back approach on a road, two men in flat caps and a third in a blue anorak. The older horseman, leading another pony, canters and struggle to control his horse- he wears tweed jacket and cap. Back to Tess who seems to stop and watch them pass . A view of Blackmore Vale with green low lying slopes – moving in to see the Cerne Abbas Giant figure cut in the chalk. Blurred figure of Tess walks along a field and the view opens up so we see her walking along the bare horizon – a stone pillar seen in the foreground and a man’s hand pats it. The presenter now stands next to the stone pillar next to a hedge – he tells us it is Cross-and-Hand which is on Batcombe Hill in Dorset – as mentioned in The Lost Pyx: A Medieval Legend, the Thomas Hardy poem – the presenter tells us the suppositions about what the pillar might be – including that it might be a place where a miracle happened. Cross-and-Hand stone with its markings, presenter partly seen to one side. Presenter next to the stone tells us this is the spot where Alec made Tess swear on the cross that never again would she tempt him – tells us how Tess was told that the devil haunts the spot. The figure of Tess walking still. Aerial view of the lowlands below a hill with a church visible. Side wall of the church with the figure of Tess far in the distance. Christmas tree plantation – grasses blow in the foreground – Tess appears as more text from the novel is read. We see her feet as she steps over dead pheasants. A couple of dead pheasants on the ground. Close up of the Tess figure looking down. Dead pheasant close. Hen pheasants running over a bare field. A white dog chasing a pheasant through undergrowth. A pheasant in a cultivated field – takes off flapping wildly as we hear gun shots – the pheasant flies towards trees. Following another pheasant in flight as it is being shot at – winter fields and trees in the background – the bird is hit and falls to the ground – a dog runs to retrieve it. The face of a man in a brown checked tweed deerstalker hat blows a hunting whistle during the pheasant shoot. Eyes of a man in flat cap at the pheasant shoot. Man’s hand and finger on the barrel of a gun – he cocks the trigger. Another man in close up wearing a tweed hat smiles and looks around. Three hunters from the pheasant shoot carrying rifles – they wear waxed jackets, tweed jackets and tweed hats, walk towards us happy – one carries a few dead pheasants and a black gun dog comes to walk behind them. Man in flat cap at pheasant shoot. Man in flat cap, shirt and tie and Barbour type jacket smokes a cigarette. Pheasant hunter. Man in deer-stalker in profile. Same man in a field with his rifle pointing upwards – other shooters or beaters are seen strung out across the stubble field. Man’s face against the sun. Pheasant in the sky is shot and falls to earth – narration from Tess of the d’Urberville talks of hunters. Close up of dead cock pheasant’s head lying in the field. Hunter in tweed bucket hat and black polo necked jumper carries a brace of pheasants over his shoulder and another in his right hand – we see his muddy wellington boots and the black gun dog. Dead head of a cock pheasant, its plumage seen too. Quick zoom in to a pheasant in flight. Man aims his gun at pheasant . Pheasant in the sky is brought down . Man smiles as he discharges a cartridge from his rifle as he stands in a field during the shoot. Man carrying a shotgun walks alongside a wintery hedge. Man looks up as we hear gunshots – he smiles. Man sits on the ground at the side of a field – wears a brown woollen beanie hat – he has his arm around one of two hounds – he has a stick in his hand so perhaps he is a beater. A hunter in silhouette seen with the sun going down behind him. The walking legs of two hunters, carrying shotguns and a brace of dead pheasants, gun dog to one side. Black dog with dead pheasant in its mouth. Dead pheasant held by its neck by one of the hunters who wears a leather glove . Man’s finger on trigger of gun. Back to the lone figure of Tess who stands for a few seconds then walks off. Tess huddled in a winter coat with scarf wrapped over her head walks, slightly cowed towards us – wind blowing – then opening out to find a woodcutter with billhook chopping the stem of a small tree in a hedge – the woodcutter wears a battered hat and has a piece of sacking around his shoulders, tied with rough string. The woodcutter’s face in profile as he chops. Tess, seen through smoke, watches him. Tess stands on a rough hillside with a small bonfire burning in the foreground. The woodcutter, seen from the front, chopping a small branch which has ivy around it. The branch in close up, being chopped. The woodcutter makes his final chop and a small tree falls in front of him. Tess’s face with purple scarf wrapped around – she looks sad as smoke blows in front of her face. Looking up at a row of tall, bare trees with plaintive music playing – we then see Tess below them scrambling her way through the undergrowth, clumsily. Tess moving through the trees – trying to hurry, pushing branches out of her way – as we watch a passage from Tess of the d’Urbervilles is read out. Tall trees in silhouette, the sun occasionally glints through – then we move through the forest, as if from Tess’s point of view – thin saplings bar the way. An autumn leaf, dead, hangs from some twigs. Back in the forest with leaf strewn forest floor and thin tree trunks – the wood becomes thicker and darker. Hanging boughs against the thin sunlight, moving through autumn foliage. More trees. The criss crossing branches of many trees get in the way. In the wood, thicker trunks. Ivy on a tree trunk. Tall tree trunks, dark, in silhouette. A morass of twigs and branches. More of the tree canopy. Montage of shots of trees and branches done very quickly. The thick dark skeleton of a dead tree against sunlight, looks ominous. Holly leaves close up – with red berries. A path through a dark wood. Looking up at a tracery of branches against the sky. Looking up at the outline of an old oak tree. The sun seen through thick forest growth. Tess again making her way through the wood. Tess walking some distance away along a path at the edge of a wood which is on the slope of a hill below which are green fields and less wild countryside. The silhouette, seen from behind, of Tess walking along an empty road – then the silhouettes of old trees are seen on either side of her as she makes her way on – Tess’s own words from the novel are read in a female West Country voice. Tess still walking along, this time through a field – she comes to a gate on the edge of a field - she climbs the gate. Tess, in close-up. Tess’s feet in white socks – she is putting on prettier shoes – black patent with a heel. Tess hides her boots by the wayside – covering them with bracken and twigs – she stands up and walks down an open forest track Outside a church with a tower and iron grilled gateway - the presenter chap arrives behind the gate of what he says is Beaminster Church, St Mary’s Beaminster – or, in Hardy’s novel, Emminster – the presenter in car coat and trilby, V necked jumper over a roll top sweater, altogether very 1970s male clothing, tells us this is where Tess was coming but that she never got to see him. Tess’s shape seen reflected in a pond. Tess’ hidden boots partly concealed by twigs and bracken. Back to Tess’s figure reflected in the water. Tess, now seen walking through a churchyard – thick wrought iron gate in the foreground. Tess moving down a bracken slope with higher slopes in the background. Open fields seen from above. The wooden crossbars of a gate – countryside seen behind. Tess muffled in her scarf walking along. The spike of a thorn tree, dripping water. Blades of thick grass, dripping with water. Black silhouette of a bare tree – its single branch against a glowering sky as the female voice reads the poem: Tess’s Lament. A row of bare trees seen against the setting sun. Yellow gorse flower in close up Two tall trees, bare and in silhouette. More trees in silhouette. One tall tree seen – dark leave frame it. A lone Tess walks. A dark horizon with grey mackerel clouds high above and Tess’s tiny figure seen walking alone along the horizon towards a gathering flock of sheep. A black horizon.

Credits – Caption “Adapted from Tess of the Durbervilles and the poetry of Thomas Hardy by David Middlemiss” seen against the profile of a bust of Thomas Hardy and then the credits roll:
Tess – Sue Knight
And the voices of Sally Mates and Tony Church
Sound Recordist Bob Wilmington
Photography Gerry Ewens
Roger Edwards
John Wanstall
Dubbing Mixer Peter Rann
Film Editor Lefkos Greco
Produced and directed by Clive Gunnell

Westward TV Logo caption – A Westward network production in colour.
26.15.


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