Movie Review: Far from the Madding Crowd – A Choice Between Passion, Contentment and Comfort, Handled Masterfully

This is starting to feel like the year of the overblown movie. From the supercharged cars of Furious 7, to the bubbly animation of Home, all the way to epic superhero movies, every genre seems to be going to the extreme. Even the period romance is getting the steroid treatment. Far From The Madding Crowd is an adaptation of a Thomas Hardy novel, filled with lavish music, beautiful scenery and romantic action.

Far from the Madding Crowd is a romantic period drama that focuses on the young Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan), who is a woman ahead of her time. The story follows her through three different love interests. A sheep farmer, Gabriel Oaks (Matthias Schoenaerts), a wealthy older man (Michal Sheen) and a lady killing young soldier (Tom Sturridge).

While I like is that the writers stayed true to the story, while not dragging it out too long. Far From the Madding Crowd was made once in the 60’s, and was an hour longer. As far as I’m concerned, that was an hour too much. Despite the action in the story, like most Hardy novels, it’s deeply depressing and dragging it out too long makes it nearly unbearable.

Scaling back on the length of the movie was a wise decision on the part of the film makers, as they were able to put more into the costumes, scenery and settings. Another thing to note is that this is less of a story about love, and more a story on the importance of marrying well in Victorian England.

The 1967 version doesn’t quite seem to get that, as they make it all about a lo

ve affair between a woman and three very different men. This one captures the original intent a bit better. Bathsheba wasn’t just an empty headed flirt. She was an independent woman with money of her own, who wanted to marry for love. However, when she does, it results in disaster, before she finally goes with the guy she should have the entire time.

I didn’t spoiler alert that for a reason, by the way. If you haven’t gotten around to reading a novel that was written in 1895, you don’t deserve a spoiler alert.


Far from the madding crowd movie stills 2 - 14MAY2015

Far from the madding Crowd movie stills - 14MAY2015

Mulligan is a charming flirt, Schoenaerts is a supportive friend, Sheen is a manipulative rich man, and Sturridge is the torn romantic you love to hate. Not one single actor in this film laid down on the job and they all brought their characters to life in an effortless way.

The storyline is one of the most standard tropes in romance. A choice between passion, contentment and comfort, and it was handled masterfully in this edition. The lush landscape, powerful score, and intelligent dialog all serve to underscore one of Thomas Hardy’s most successful books.

This is an epically done period drama that currently only has limited release, which is a shame. If you’re a fan of the period drama, then this is one to see. It was done with intelligence and respect towards the original author’s work.

Official Movie Trailer and Movie Poster Below.

four and a half stars

[youtube id=”8CkLC4Zr2Mw” width=”680″ height=”383″]

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One Comment

  1. Recently read the book, as well as saw the 1960’s film adaptation; it really shook me up because those involved in the film argued they were true to the book, yet several salient changes were made, that “softened” the hard edges of all of the lead characters. It really got me thinking on whether the Bathsheba (Carey Mulligan) in “this” movie is the one Thomas Hardy intended to write, but just couldn’t or was constrained by his times. Food for thought.

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