I have a love affair with Thomas Hardy’s novel Far From the Madding Crowd, written in 1874. Having read it as part of O’Levels Literature, the in depth character study made it somewhat a great learning experience. The title in itself refers to the whole idea of running away from the crowd that drives you mad, in other ways, retreat to a quieter place in your life. But life doesn’t necessarily allows you to escape its clutches and complications.
The movie version that’s very popular with the literary world is the 60s adaptation, starring Julie Christie in the lead role. I was very keen to watch the 2015 version, and I can safely say that this was a delicious and great adaptation.
Carey Mulligan plays Bathsheba Everdene, a headstrong and independent minded woman living with her aunt on a farmside in 1820, Devonshire, out of London. A new new neighbor moves in, Mr. Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts) He develops an affection for her and eventually proposes, but she refuses. Through a reversal of fortune, Gabriel is left penniless and Bathsheba inherits her uncle’s fortune.
In her new farm estate, she encounters a Mr. William Boldwood (Michael Sheen) who is a mature and prosperous businessman. He also develops feelings for Bathsheba, and she again refuses him, leaving him dejected. While walking in the forest, Bathsheba encounters Seageant Francis Troy (Tom Sturridge) who flatters her and embraces her. She falls for his charming ways, and despite Gabriel’s warnings, she marries him.
What follows are a series of events which leads Bathsheba through a whirlwind of a life. Jealousy, anger, love, betrayal, death are all dealt with.
This adaptation is so wonderful are the lead actors, especially Mulligan as Bathsheba. Her impeccable English accent and presence lights up the screen. The three men are also effective in their respective parts, and the movie does keep the viewers engrossed enough with three men vying for the same woman.
The main joy of watching Far From the Madding Crowd is the in depth character study. Bathsheba is strong and independent minded yet emotionally weak when it comes to matter of her heart. Gabriel is the shy and reclusive farmer, who is patient and slow to speak his heart. Boldwood is the mature man, who is slightly desperate but has a huge heart. Troy is the arrogant man who uses other for his own conceited needs.
Marriage and love is a funny thing. What Hardy wrote back in 1874 resonates with us even today. One will relate to this aspect of the movie quite a bit. So while it may be a movie based in 1800, the central thematic elements are still relevant in 2015.
A classic movie based on a even great classic novel Far From the Madding Crowd makes a great evening of watching a solid movie with awesome characters.
4 out of 5