This movie did not in any way disappoint me. Far from the Madding Crowd is based on the novel by Thomas Hardy and wonderfully directed by Thomas Vinterberg. In the opening scene, Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan), a free-spirited farm girl, is seen riding a horse leaning all the way backwards across the greens in England. She is considered to be too wild to even take a job as a governess and enjoys being uncommitted.
She does not know that she is being observed by the landowner, Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts) who later returns her scarf that she lost during her ride. He, then, proposes to her. She is caught off guard, but assures Gabriel that she does not plan to marry and become some man’s property. A change of fortune occurs when Bathsheba inherits her uncle’s estate and she becomes a savvy businesswoman. She is often seen haggling over crop prices with the other men.
In the meantime, Gabriel loses his farm and his herd of sheep through an unfortunate accident. He ends up seeing Bathsheba again and this time she hires him as a shepherd. He takes care of her sheep and he continually observes her as she makes varied decisions along the way.
Her independence seems to make her that much more appealing and the suitors continue to pour in and try to conquer her. The dashing William Boldwood (Michael Sheen) is her wealthy neighbor. He also proposes to her and offers her items such a piano. She reminds him that she already has all of these things and she denies his hand in marriage. He is devastated but he does not stop trying to win her over.
But, the third suitor, Sgt. Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), is a soldier. He seduces her and offers her the passion that she has never had. She marries him secretly but it does not turn out well. He has a lot of skeletons in his closet and generally is not a nice person. Gabriel and William sit back and watch as Bathsheba’s life unravels.
This movie is a romance which is beautifully cast and the scenery is breathtaking. The costumes are great period pieces showing how people dressed during the Victorian era. Every part of the movie is of high-caliber and all parts of the story are tastefully told.
But, who will Ms. Everdene end up with? Will it be Gabriel or Mr. Boldwood or someone new? Or will she relish in her freedom and simply continue to go it alone? Go see this movie. I think that Thomas Hardy would be pleased. Far from the Madding Crowd will take any viewer on a journey well worth traveling.
Lynn May 20, 2015