Whenever I find myself in a bookstore with a friend looking for a good read, I inevitably pull her over to the works of Thomas "Heartless" Hardy. My fingers brush the unblemished spines of Far from the Madding Crowd and The Mayor of Casterbridge before pausing at Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Like magic the book falls into my hands and I hug it close like we haven't seen each other in years (when really I have a well-worn copy on my bookshelf). "You have to let me read my favorite bit," I say, thumbing through the pages without waiting for a reply. Chapter 23. The Rally. I sigh and give my friend a look that says, 'You're going to wish you brought your smelling salts!' And then I read the words I've read a thousand times...
She was embarrassed to discover that excitement at the proximity of Mr. Clare's breath and eyes, which she had contemned in her companions, was intensified in herself; and as if fearful of betraying her secret she paltered with him at the last moment.
'I may be able to clim' along the bank perhaps-I can clim' better than they. You must be so tired, Mr. Clare!'
'No, no, Tess,' said he quickly. And almost before she was aware she was seated in his arms and resting against his shoulder.
'Three Leahs to get one Rachel,' he whispered.
'They are better women than I,' she replied, magnanimously sticking to her resolve.
'Not to me,' said Angel.
He saw her grow warm at this; and they went some steps in silence.
'I hope I am not too heavy?' said she timidly.
'O no. You should lift Marian! Such a lump. You are like an undulating billow warmed by the sun. And all this fluff of muslin about you is the froth.'
'It is very pretty-if I seem like that to you.'
'Do you know that I have undergone three-quarters of this labour entirely for the sake of the fourth quarter?'
'I did not expect such an event to-day.'
'Nor I... The water came up so sudden.'
That the rise in the water was what she understood him to refer to, the state of her breathing belied. Clare stood still and inclined his face towards hers.
'O Tessy!' he exclaimed.
The girl's cheeks burned to the breeze, and she could not look into his eyes for her emotion. It reminded Angel that he was somewhat unfairly taking advantage of an accidental position; and he wanted no further with it. No definite words of love had crossed their lips as yet, and suspension at this point was desirable now. However, he walked slowly, to make the remainder of the distance as long as possible; but at last they came to the bend, and the rest of their progress was in full view of the other three. The dry land was reached, and he set her down.
Her friends were looking with round thoughtful eyes at her and him, and she could see that they had been talking of her. He hastily bade them farewell, and splashed back along the stretch of submerged road."Three Leahs to get one Rachel." I die! I DIE!!! It's the sweetest thing! Not to mention scooping her up to carry her across the water. Say what you will about Angel Clare, this scene is as romantic as they come! "Not to me." OH MY HEART!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ahem... as you can see, this scene gives me a lot of FEELINGS. Whenever I read it, weird sounds come out of my mouth. Whenever I see this on screen in the beautiful adaptation, I start squealing and clutching at my heart. But then there's another version that somehow managed to totally. botch. this. scene.
So here I give you a comparison of this scene done in the 1998 and 2008 version. This is one of those rare(?) cases where I want to wipe one out of human existence and take a bullet for the other because I love it so much. I'll let you watch the scenes back to back first without giving my personal bias away... However, I think it will be GLARINGLY OBVIOUS (because one of them really sucks *cough*)...
So obviously the first one (1998) is the one I H-A-T-E and the second one (2008) is the one I L-O-V-E. To prevent myself from spiraling into a rant, I will just bullet point why I FEEL this way.
- First off, it's supposed to be all four of the girls who've got it bad for Angel Clare. I can't believe they left out Retty! Her storyline is very important! Gah!
- Listen, I liked Justine Waddell in Wives & Daughters, but she is the worst. Tess. EVER.
- And Oliver Milburn is the worst. Angel. EVER.
- Nothing they say here feels natural. Everything sounds scripted. He sounds robotic. She looks like a deer in headlights. It's meant to be a moment rip-roaring with tension. Because of scandalous events in her past, Tess is genuinely trying to steer Angel away from her even though she loves him. However, I don't get that impression here.
- They left out the "Three Leahs to get one Rachel" line, WHICH IS MY FAVORITE LINE IN THE ENTIRE SCENE! It's the most romantic! Why would you do that?! Why? WHY?! You know, besides the fact that you cut out Retty! Jerks.
- The ending. They're all so annoying! And in the book, I liked all of them.
- All in all, depressingly unconvincing... *BRASS KNUCKLES*
- Firstly, the cinematography and costuming is obviously leaps and bounds better.
- OUR PRINCE EDDIE REDMAYNE IS ANGEL CLARE!!!!!!!!! His voiiiiiiiiice! This is like the ultimate daydream!
- Gemma Arterton is the perfect Tess. Her portrayal is spot. on.
- Oh look, it's Retty! Who, imagine that, was actually in this scene *cough* 1998 *cough*.
- Marian, Retty, and Izzy have such genuine reactions, I can totally relate to them and their excitement and reservations.
- But the stolen glances between Angel and Tess as he picks all these other girls up just makes me-ahhhhhhdjfksldfjiwoeruwou!!!!!!!!!
- When Angel is carrying Izzy across the water and Tess starts pacing back and forth, her panic is evident and I love that! No deer in headlights here!
- "THREE LEAHS TO GET ONE RACHEL." AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- If I ever meet Eddie Redmayne, I'm going to ask him to whisper "Not to me" in my ear.
- Their speech flows beautifully; it's not forced at all. It sucks me right into the moment, like I'm actually living in the scene.
- The way he tips his hat to them at the end... eeeeee!!!!!!! Such a gent.
- In a word: FLAWLESS. *smelling salts*
I can't recommend the 2008 version of Tess of the d'Urbervilles enough. I really can't. You know what else I can't do? Make it through the 1998 version. Bleck to the hundredth power.
What about you, dear readers? Do you have any scenes you get particularly particular about?