This is a film that I have watched on YouTube before but when looking at other Thomas Hardy film adaptations I said to myself "that was fairly good" but I really couldn't remember too much about the miniseries. So I watched it last night and enjoyed every moment of this charming tale.
The film starts at Christmas time and tells the story of the new school teacher Miss Fancy Day being pursued by three gentlemen. Along with that main story is a second tale of the parson trying to replace the country choir on Sundays with a new harmonium. There are so many charming characters and small town goings on that this story has more the feel of a Cranford than anything nearing the tragedies of a Tess of the d'Urbervilles.
The heroine of our tale is lovely Miss Fancy Day portrayed wonderfully by actress Keeley Hawes (Wives & Daughters, Our Mutual Friend). Though born in the small country town of Mellstock, Fancy has been well educated and her father desires a rich marriage for his daughter. Talented and pretty Fancy is soon pursued by three men: rich Farmer Shiner who her father prefers, poor country tradesman Dick Dewey, and high minded Parson Maybold. Though she is often indecisive (and no wonder with three suitors and a father trying to dictate her life) she emerges as a sweet tempered young woman who always makes the right moral choices and does what is right, even if it is hard.
Handsome James Murray brings a strength and humor to Dick Dewey.
What I appreciate about this film is that all three of Fancy's suitors are true gentlemen, they are always acting with great respect toward her and try not to knowingly ruin her reputation. The true hero of the day is Mr. Dick Dewey who falls for Fancy on first sight (a funny scene too) and is honest about his feelings for her from the start. He nobly helps to save Fancy's father, even though Mr. Day has refused his as a suitor for his daughter. Knowing and loving Fancy helps Dick to see and change some things in his life and business and to broaden his horizons a bit. This version of Dick Dewey is going to be added to my favorite literary heroes, he's right up there with John Thornton. :)
The towns people of Melstock Village are completely charming country folk who are hardworking but also full of fun. The Melstock choir play an important role in the story as they sing for many of the central characters. They also are the major source of humor for the film and the viewer can't help but enjoy their comical presence.
The romance between Dick and Fancy is simply charming!
I finished the film with the thought "this is a good movie!" I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys Cranford, Wives & Daughters, North & South, Our Mutual Friend, Jane Austen's Emma and period drama in general. This DVD is being added to my wish list and because it starts at Christmas time with many carols being sung I think it will be added to my Christmas movie list as well. :) Such a lovely miniseries!