The Tragedy to Beat All Tragedies

My wife likes to pick out movie to watch based on sometimes inscrutable logic.  Recently she checked out “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” from the library.  I’m only giving you one spoiler alert and this is it, though even if you plan on watching it, you may want to read this first.

But before I get into Tess, the tragedy extraordinaire, I want to tell a story about Steven Spielberg and “Jaws”.  In some of the early test screenings, he had several “gotcha” scare moments.  Apparently after the first one, the audience would be wary.  After the second and third they got downright hostile.  Whatever trust he built with them over the course of the movie was betrayed, and the audience response was negative.  He took out most of the big scares to the benefit of the movie.

The producers of “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” could’ve learned a lesson from Steve.  It’s a beautifully acted, produced, and filmed miniseries from the BBC, and based on a Thomas Hardy novel from 1891.  But the very first scene is where something goes wrong for the lovely Tess, played by Gemma Arterton, who you might recognize as Strawberry Fields from the recent Bond flick, Quantum of Solace.  For the next several hours of the series, Tess’ life gets worse and worse.  By the end, my wife calculated that since Tess was a teenager, she only had four happy days before the end of her life.  Believe me, it felt like much less than that.  One tragedy follows another, with no promise of anything better.  When something positive does happen near the end, the audience is so jaded by the constant disasters that we cringe and can’t enjoy the moment.  Which is smart because a few minutes into it, tragedy strikes again and the series is over. 

Bam, one last punch to the gut before the credits roll. 

If you’re in a sour mood and want to see someone worse off than you, rent Tess.  Otherwise you can take a shortcut by drinking some vinegar and beating your head against the wall for a couple hours.


However, the week hasn’t been all dramatic tragedy and weepy women.  I am in the process of switching over Aurora Bakery to organic.  I picked up a 50 lb bag of organic bread flour last week (only $27!), and am stocking up on organic butter, cream, and eggs.  If I can manage to find organic yeast I’ll be completely switched over, though I think that one’s debatable.  Some ingredients will be almost impossible to find organic, so I will advertise on my menu those breads that are completely organic, with the others described as having organic flour.  Since my sales have flatlined in the new year, maybe this will give me a boost.  If nothing else, it’ll make me feel better about what I’m eating and selling.

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  1. If you want someone to STAY in a gutwrenching frame of mind, just have 'em skitter over to Atonement. Twist the knife, why doncha?

  2. Babs said:

    Ok so I don't get it….why continue watching the movie when it is such a disaster? I'm pretty sure there is a stop and eject button on your remote. I think maybe watching that ridiculous huge purple Barney would be a better choice.–even Elmo would be more tolerable.

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