April 5, 2012
Time's have changed in High School English classes. Classic literary achievements are not read as they were once were; they have been replaced by new 'classics'. One such novel that does not make the list often any longer for High School students English classes is "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" by Thomas Hardy. "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" was a controversial book at the time of publication in the late 1800s for its portrayal of the female lead character Tess, and the unforgettable telling of her story of injustice, rape, societal constrictions and hypocrisy, out-of-wedlock childbirth, and murder. Hardy had become known for being compassionate towards England's lower classes, and women in particular as they were victimized by the rigidity of English social morality. "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" defied conventions, and brought forth great debate over the importance of family history, and the possibility it is undesirable, in English Society. At a time of great change in England, with the Industrial Revolution ushering in a new social class equal to that of "old money", Hardy's novel caused a stir, and a stir of the best kind for readers of great literature.
There have been adaptations of "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" on stage, film, television, and even an opera arranged. The first film adaptation took place in 1913, directed by Adolph Zukor and starring Minnie Maddern Fiske; all copies of the silent picture have been lost. In 2007 a musical version of the novel premiered in New York, "Tess: The New Musical", featuring a rock opera of lyrics, music, and Annie Pasqua. Even acclaimed Director Roman Polanski took a turn at adapting "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" with his 1979 film Tess, starring Nastassja Kinski, Leigh Lawson, and Peter Firth. The time has come again for a new film adaptation of Hardy's phenomenal novel to grace the screen; this time set in 21st Century India. Trishna is directed by Michael Winterbottom (Welcome to Sarajevo, Wonderland, 24 Hour Party People) and stars Freida Pinto (Immortals, Slumdog Millionaire) and Riz Ahmed (Four Lions, Centurion). Trishna is a new take on the modern classic, but maintains the tensions between "ancient privilege and modern equality." It is wonderful to see a modern Director taking on a beloved classic, and when Trishna is released in theatres on July 13, 2012 (USA) everyone will get to experience the adaptation for themselves.
Trishna lives with her family in a village in Rajasthan, India's largest state. As the eldest daughter, she works in a nearby resort to help pay the bills. Jay is the wealthy son of a property developer. When he takes up managing a resort at his father's request, he meets Trishna at a dance and their fates cross. Jay finds every opportunity to win Trishna's affection and she accepts his efforts with shy curiosity. But when the two move to Mumbai and become a couple, Jay's deep family bond threatens the young lovers' bliss.
Shot with Winterbottom's agile camera, Trishna is a powerful look at the tension between ancient privilege and modern equality, between codes of urban and rural life and ultimately a hymn to both the glory and the tragedy that comes with beauty in all forms.