Thomas Hardy adaptations usually aren't on my list of "must see" period dramas but Far From The Madding Crowd (2015) was on that list mostly because of actress Carey Mulligan and the lovely trailers released that featured her singing a lovely old English ballad.
Watching it on the big screen was a wonderful feast for the senses and had me eating up every moment of this 119 minute film.
I really enjoyed this film and with just a couple scenes skipped over it is a timeless tale appropriate for teens and adults.
Far From The Madding Crown (2015) is a new favorite of mine because of it's lovely music, incredible scenery, gorgeous costumes, wonderful actors, strong characters and engaging story.
Story: The story of independent, beautiful and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene, who attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer, captivated by her fetching willfulness; Frank Troy, a handsome and reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood, a prosperous landowner and mature bachelor. This timeless story of Bathsheba's choices and passions explores the nature of relationships and love - as well as the human ability to overcome hardships through resilience and perseverance. - Written by Fox Searchlight
Costumes: At the beginning of the film it states that the events are supposed to happen in Dorset, England during the 1870's so I did some research on styles from that time period and discovered that particularly the ladies styles range from 1870-1890 sometimes using things that are a little bit before the time period. I really love the wardrobe designed for Bathsheba Everdene, all of her outfits and hairstyles are gorgeous and although her gowns are sometimes ahead of the fashions of the day and sometimes lean more towards the early 1900's I find that the lack of lace, bustles and off the shoulder gowns really suit the character's independent spirit and landowner status very well. It's interesting that Seargant Troy is also given a mustache and long sideburns, two very popular things (and I believe started to be a requirement) for soldiers during that time period. Overall the costumes may not be quite right for the time period but they suit each character perfectly!
Music: Perfectly lovely background theme music, composed by Craig Armstrong, that captures the wildness of the heroine and the scenery. That is also mingled well with traditional sounding dances and country ballads. My favorite song in the film is the song sung by Bathsheba and Mr. Boldwood at a harvest dinner, their voices blend so well together! This song (Let No Man Steal Your Thyme) is also played at the end of the film and I not only had to stay and listen to the whole thing but sung it over to myself in the car while I was driving home! The tune is very catch and rather haunting in a way!
Questionable Content: This film is rated PG-13, mostly for some brief sexual content. Basically there are two scenes that are the culprits. Firstly when Sergeant Troy is on the screen there is a lot of sensual undertones. When Troy first kisses Bathsheba he touches her inappropriately through her clothes. Later when they are married it briefly shows the beginning of their wedding night and the next morning. At their wedding celebration Troy and some of the men that work for Bathsheba get a little drunk and rowdy and start singing a rather lewd song whereupon the ladies leave the room, this scene isn't bad since it's intertwined with Gabriel saving the freshly cut hay from a thunder storm. There is also a little violence at the end, not really very gory but it is completely unexpected (unless you know the story) so it could be a bit traumatic for some viewers.
Actors & Characters: There are one or two recognizable faces and some wonderful actors who I'd never seen before. The cast is so well chosen and perfect for this film!
- Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene - The bold and fiercely independent heroine of the story, she has good business sense and makes a success of the farm she inherits from her uncle. Although she is smart in the business realm, she makes many blunders in matters of the heart, but then it is difficult with three suitors after her hand. Even though she sometimes makes very hasty and wrong decisions, I found it easy to understand her and sympathize with her troubles. She's very human and flawed character, but does learn from her mistakes. You'll know actress Carey Mulligan from Pride & Prejudice (2005), Bleak House (2006), Northanger Abbey (2007), Doctor Who: Blink and The Great Gatsby (2013) and it's lovely to see her take the leading role in another period drama!
- Matthias Schoenaerts as Gabriel Oak - Hardworking farmer, honest, gentlemanly and always does what is right, but is often unlucky in business. He knows what he wants and asks for Bathsheba's hard in marriage after not knowing her very long. Later when he falls on hard times he is employed as a shepherd on Bathsheba's farm and becomes her friends and adviser. Gabriel is an amazing character and sometimes you only hold out hope for Bathsheba because you know he loves her so much. It is nice that his love for her is constant but he's not going to spend his days pining for her when she doesn't love him back. Matthias is a Belgian actor who has been in some period set films but this is the first time I've seen him in a film, he does such an amazing job portraying the strong, silent type hero Gabriel Oak!
- Tom Sturridge as Sergeant Francis Troy - What can I say about Sergeant Troy except errrr! and ugh! He is very much like George Wickham (P&P), John Willoughby (S&S) and Henry Crawford (Mansfield Park) all rolled into one with a little bit of Marius Pontmercy's (Les Miserables) youthful impetuous nature. From the moment he enters Bathsheba's world I found myself screaming (inwardly, I was in a movie theater after all!) "no, no, no!" at the both of them. He's a very smooth operator and you can tell that every flattering and blunt statement he says to Bathsheba have been used on other girls, she can even tell this and yet she falls for him hard and fast. And yet you can see that Sergeant Troy does have a heart in there somewhere because of the love that is shown for Fanny Robbin. Actor Tom Sturridge has been in a couple other period set films but nothing I'd recommend. He played the part of Troy perfectly making him a character viewers will love to hate!
- Michael Sheen as William Boldwood - At first he seems like a very reserved and prideful character, but you soon learn he's just protecting a very fragile heart that's been wounded before. He's an extremely sad character and a few of his scenes made me cry more than any other part of the film and make him one of my favorite parts of this story! He does give his heart completely and it's rather incredible the extent his love for Bathsheba is shown and the sacrifices he makes. On the other hand it is sad that he never really seems to truly understand what Bathsheba needs or wants, and maybe never really cherishes her independent spirit. As Bathsheba says "I hold that many's life in my hands, his sanity too perhaps." I've never seen actor Michael Sheen in anything else but he has been in a few other period set films. I really enjoyed his performance in this film and loved hearing his smooth Welsh voice singing along with Carey Mulligan on one of the main songs.
- Juno Temple as Fanny Robbin - Sergeant Troy's young innocent sweetheart who was also a servant at Bathsheba's uncle's farm. Through a mistake they end up in different churches on the day they are to be married and she has a rather tragic end. Such a sad figure, common in Thomas Hardy stories. I've seen Juno Temple in a few period films and she was perfectly tragic in this one.
- Jessica Barden as Liddy - Bathsheba's mischievous young companion / ladies maid who she brings under her wing. Liddy is a very fun character because she is high spirited and enjoys teasing the young men but she sometimes get's Bathsheba into trouble by encouraging childish behavior.
My Recommendations: Because this film is rated PG-13 for "some sexuality and violence" it's not recommended for younger kids but teens and adults will probably fine and the couple "bad" scenes can easily be skipped. I really enjoyed this film but those who prefer sweeter and more stayed period dramas such as Jane Austen or Elizabeth Gaskell adaptations might not like this very much. But if you enjoyed films such as Under The Greenwood Tree, Far From The Madding Crowd (1998), Jane Eyre (2012), Great Expectations (2011), Lark Rise To Candleford (TV series), Middlemarch (1994) or Daniel Deronda (2002) then you will probably enjoy Far From The Madding Crowd (2015).
Have you seen Far From The Madding Crowd (2015)? What did you think of it?
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