Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Far From The Madding Crowd

I was able to see the latest adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Far From The Madding Crowd this weekend (despite it's limited release) and it was wonderful. I am turning into quite a Carey Mulligan fan! Mulligan does an admirable job bring to life one of the first truly modern women in English literature, the fabulously named Bathsheba Everdene. With just the right blend of sauciness and impetuosity she takes us through the difficult journey of a Victorian woman ahead of her time.

Matthias Schoenaerts at first seems an unlikely choice for the solid, trustworthy and aptly named Gabriel Oak. One would think that the mere fact of his Belgian accent would at first rule him out for this quintessentially English character. And yet, even though he occasionally loses his tenuous grip on a West Country accent, he really works in this role. There is a grounded sensual quality to him which is lovely opposite Carey Mulligan's impulsive headstrong Bathsheba.

Michael Sheen as Mr. Boldwood, the middle aged farmer who falls for the valentine joke hook, line and sinker is just perfect. His mad mooning over our heroine hits just the right tone and it certainly feels as if Mulligan's Bathsheba is tempted to put him out of his misery and marry him (if only for that amazing house!).

But of course, what is a gorgeous house compared to a sexy soldier in a scarlet uniform? Especially one who whips out his sword and takes her breath away with her first kiss. Well, if you don't already know how this ends, I shan't spoil it for you.

I have to give a shout out to Jessica Barden who steals a few scenes as sidekick Liddy. Now I have to go back and watch her in the modern day version of FFTMC Tamara Drewe. She was hysterical as the teenage Jody in that little gem! Juno Temple is fine as poor Fanny Robin but has only a few brief scenes. Apparently most of her work ended up on the cutting room floor. Pity.

Thankfully Sparky the dog got lots of screen time however as Old George. :)

In any case this is a wonderful film adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Far From The Madding Crowd. It does suffer from the usual adaptation issues arising from the compression of a novel into less than two hours time, as well as the need to "modernize" the language. I totally understand the need for both so thankfully it will drive many fans back to the original novel as it did for me. In fact I reread the book for the first time in fifteen years before and after seeing the film. Reading it after the film was actually way better! So bravo to all involved. Mission accomplished.

I will be adding this one to my DVD collection with pleasure. Gorgeously filmed and well acted!


  1. I really do enjoy Carey Mulligan. She was adorable in P&P, but my first encounter with her was in Doctor Who in the episode, "Blink." Michael Sheen is a bit underrated, I've seen him play so many different characters, he is a fantastic actor. The scenery, landscape and set of this films looks beautiful. Films that feature a nice texture to the set is always appealing. I can't wait to see this, thanks for the insight!

  2. Hi Jenny,
    I just saw the movie. I enjoyed it very much, but it did suffer as you say from compression issues. I saw it with friends who were new to the story, and they felt Bathsheba's character was fickle, because she seemed to flip from one admirer to the other so quickly without consequence. And indeed it does look that way with the pace of the movie. Even poor Fanny's story is skimmed, leaving us with only a vague understanding of how tragic her story is, and not enough of a contrast to Bathsheba, who is a woman with infinite choice, verses Fanny who only had one opportunity for happiness.

    When I first saw the trailer I was both excited and perplexed by how they would condense the 4 hour miniseries into a 2 hour movie. There are no characters that can be omitted to stream line the story. They are all integral to the whole.

    So in the end, although I liked the movie (as someone who knew the story before had), my friends didn't like it as much. In the end I would have to say I like the 1998 mini series better. The cast of the movie was very good, but I still like the other cast better, with the exception of Mr. Boldwood. The 1998 cast, but with Michael Sheen, would be perfect. I felt so sorry for his character in the new movie, that I would have been happy to see Bathsheba pick him!!! In the other version, I was routing only for you know who (don't want to give it away :)

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