Saturday, July 6, 2013
The Mayor of Casterbridge 2003
Oh, Thomas Hardy...why so tragic? I have had my copy of The Mayor of Casterbridge kicking around my house for about a year now, still with the wrapping on it. I know that Thomas Hardy is a wonderful writer but he can be such a downer that it took until this week for me to get this one into the DVD player. Why did I wait???? It is wonderful!
I should have known with Ciaran Hinds in the title role that it would be good. But this one is really good! Now, don't get me wrong, it is Thomas Hardy and the subtitle of the book is "The Life and Death of a Man of Character" so don't you be expectin' any happy endings. I mean it starts with the main character Michael Henchard selling his wife and baby daughter to a sailor at a country fair after he has had too much to drink.
Then we pick up the story 18 years later, when Henchard has made good and is a respectable grain merchant and Mayor when his wife Susan shows up in Casterbridge as a widow with a grown daughter. And then the story gets complex and really dark as it always does with Hardy.
I have to say, if I knew James Purefoy had such a prominent role in this I would have cracked open the DVD much sooner. My goodness, that man looks good in Victorian clothing! And he does a fairly good Scottish accent as Donald Farfrae, the man who unwittingly complicates Henchard's life over and over again.
Mmmmmmmm....sorry, I got lost in those dreamy eyes and adorable smirk in the photo above.
But seriously all of the actors in this are top notch, from Jodhi May as Elizabeth-Jane, Henchard's daughter right on down to the wonderful Jean Marsh in a small but pivotal role as the Furmity Woman who gets Henchard intoxicated at the fair. You know a production is fabulous when even the tiny roles are perfectly cast. And Polly Walker is captivatingly gorgeous as usual as Lucetta, the love interest of both men.
I think what I liked most about this story is how Thomas Hardy humanizes his characters and doesn't try to make them all good or all evil, which is a refreshing change for Victorian literature. Everyone has depth, even if there seems to be just a little too much coincidental tragedy for my liking.
So, there you are. By all means this has my two thumbs up but make sure you are in a good mood when you decide to watch it. It is quite a roller coaster ride. And of course it makes you want to read the book. I think this will be cottage reading for me this summer!