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Tag Archive: Far from the Madding Crowd


Jessica Barden Far from the Madding Crowd

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Anyone familiar with Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd knows that the story begins when an impetuous young sheepdog accidentally herds his flock over a cliff, killing them all… and then things rather go downhill (ahem) from there.  That’s Thomas Hardy, after all.  But Far From the Madding Crowd is widely considered one of Hardy’s “happier” stories, a happy-ending (except for the sheep) romance about another impetuous youngster, farm heiress Bathsheba Everdene, and her stubborn attempts to hang on to her independence, despite the attentions of three (three!) suitors.  It all takes place in the bucolic English countryside, at the height of the Victorian era, with Social Consequences and Brooding Heroes, Headstrong Heroines, Disastrous Misunderstandings, Crimes of Passion, and Anonymous Love Letters. What’s not to love?

Well, in Thomas Vinterberg’s new adaptation of the story, pretty much everything.  Okay, to be fair–there is actually a lot not to love about the novel.  Heroine Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan, Doctor Who “Blink”, Never Let Me Go, The Great Gatsby), for one; she is at times thoughtless, clueless, senselessly cruel, and relentlessly bullheaded.  But Hardy also meant her to be sympathetic and inspiring, driving forward in a man’s world that thinks little of a woman’s independence.  Along the way, she wins the affections of no fewer than three men–men who see her for much more than her valuable land.  But the latest film version brings none of Bathsheba’s passion, conviction, and nuance to screen, relying only on Mulligan’s befuddlement and tousled tresses, and a confused wardrobe (by designer Janet Patterson) that looks like clothing from a Soviet propaganda poster.  She’s a better actor, and we’ve seen it.

Michael Sheen and Carey Mulligan Far From the Madding Crowd

Somewhere along the way, the love quadrangle of the tale gets muddled, and one can’t quite figure out how itinerant soldier Frank Troy (Thomas Sturridge, The Hollow Crown, Pirate Radio) fits in–let alone manages what devoted shepherd Gabriel Oak (Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts, from the upcoming Lewis & Clark) has continually failed at: securing Bathsheba’s hand in marriage.  But by that time, the only thing we’re sure of is that Bathsheba has poor judgement… so we just sort of go with it.  Perhaps because we’re still hanging on for gorgeous glimpses of the English countryside (which never arrive).

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Mulligan and friend in Far from the Madding Crowd

If you haven’t yet seen Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow in the David Tennant era Doctor Who episode “Blink,” then you haven’t seen one of the top episodes of television from any genre.  We placed it in our Best of the Best category here at borg.com back in 2012.  Mulligan went on to star in another critically acclaimed genre film, Never Let Me Go, where she played one of several clones created solely to serve as a supply of replacement organs should the original person ever need them.  It’s a must see if you’re a fan of Gattaca or The Handmaid’s Tale.  She’s also starred in Inside Llewyn Davis with Star Wars Episode VII star Oscar Isaac, and was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in An Education.

Mulligan has taken on plenty of historical costume drama films, and adaptations of classic novels in particular, including Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.  This year Mulligan adds Thomas Hardy to her repertoire with the big-screen adaptation of his 1874 novel Far from the Madding Crowd.

far-from-the-madding-crowd

Check out this first trailer for Far from the Madding Crowd, after the break:

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