Tess is the 1980 dramatic film about a young peasant girl in Victorian England, whose involvement with a fraudulent man leads to her downfall. The movie was directed by Roman Polanski and won the 1981 Academy Award for Best Cinematography. When poor farmer John Durbeyfield (John Collin) is told by the local historian that his family could be a descendant of the rich and noble D'urberville family, he thinks it could be his family's ticket to riches. John sends his daughter Tess (Nastassia Kinkski) to find employment with the D'urberville family. Tess meets her relative Alec, who is monied, but not a D'urberville; he has adopted the name by fraudulent means. Alec uses the deceit to seduce Tess. When Tess finds that she is pregnant by Alec, she returns home and gives birth to his child. The baby ultimately dies due to illness.
Tess leave home to work on a nearby farm. There she meets her true love Angel Clare (Peter Firth), a young man from a prominent family. Angel falls in love with Tess, whom he believes to be a virgin. After Tess reveals her former relationship with Alec on the wedding night, Angel abandons her. Tess is vulnerable and disillusioned when she once meets up with Alec. The death of Tess' father has left her mother and siblings destitute. She is reluctantly forced to resume her relationship with Alec to feed her family.
Angel returns from a missionary trip abroad. He regrets his treatment of Tess and seeks her out so they can reconcile. Angel is disappointed to find Tess living with Alec. Realizing that Alec has once again ruined her chance at happiness, she murders him. Tess reuintes with Angel and they run away together. Unfortunately, the law catches up with Tess at Stonehenge. She is awakened by constables and taken away. Tess is tried and hanged for the murder of Alec.