Thursday, December 24, 2009

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks


Another beautiful carol that I was just humming today. Happy Christmas Eve everyone!

While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around,
And glory shone around.

“Fear not!” said he, for mighty dread
Had seized their troubled mind.
“Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind
To you and all mankind.

“To you, in David’s town, this day
Is born of David’s line
A Savior, who is Christ the Lord,
And this shall be the sign,
And this shall be the sign.

“The heavenly Babe you there shall find
To human view displayed,
All meanly wrapped in swathing bands,
And in a manger laid,
And in a manger laid.”

“All glory be to God on high,
And to the Earth be peace;
Good will henceforth from Heaven to men
Begin and never cease,
Begin and never cease!”

Words: Na­hum Tate, 1700; first ap­peared in Tate and Bra­dy’s Psalter, 1702.
Music: Christmas, George F. Han­del, 1728; ar­ranged in Har­mon­ia Sac­ra, 1812


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Biographies at Christmastime

So it's just two days before Christmas and I'm just taking a break from the baking, shopping and gift wrapping to enjoy some literary fun. The last few days I've been watching documentaries and biographies of English writers. I'm not sure I've really spent much time looking into the lives of the writers behind some of my favorite books (except for Jane Austen's life). It's interesting watching as they mix acting, paintings, video footage of England today and clips from film adaptations to tell the life stories of these famous authors.

Here's a bit about each one and where you can find them on YouTube.

The Real Jane Austen
Gillian Kearney as Jane Austen

Narrated by actor and great-grand-niece Anna Chancellor this is a lovely look at the short but fairly happy life of The Authoress. Lovely scenes of Steventon,
You will recognize: actors Jack Davenport and Lucy Cohu as Henry and Cassandra Austen and much archive footage of film adaptations. I really enjoy this documentary which you can watch here.

In Search of the Brontës
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Victoria Hamilton, Alexandra Milman & Elizabeth Hurran as Charlotte, Anne & Emily

I knew a very little history about the Brontë Family so this was very enlightening and really a lovely piece. I enjoyed Patricia Routledge (a wonderful actress) narrating it and also how it followed the various family members from their early years till death. A very sad story actually of an extremely talented and brilliant family who had little success while they were alive.
You might recognize: actress Victoria Hamilton as strong willed Charlotte Brontë and Patrick Malahide as her kind father Reverend Brontë (as a side note these two were in Victoria & Albert together as well). I really appreciated how Reverend Brontë's faith is portrayed as a vital part of his life and the upbringing of his children. I highly recommend this documentary which you can watch here.

George Eliot: A Scandalous Life
Authoress Mary Ann Evans used the pen name George Eliot.

I'll say right up front that I had read a short biography of Ms. Evan's life and knew it was rather a wicked one. But any life that starts as a young woman denying the faith she grew up with and the truths her father preached cannot end well. True she did recieve some recognition in her lifetime but her years were marked by sin, lust, self doubt, and trouble at every turn. Her father and brother, bless their hearts, would not forgive her or condone her behavior while she lived in sin. Her bio is an interesting one and another example of how true life is woven into an author's works.
You may recognize: Harriet Walker as Mary Ann Evans also Barbara Leigh-Hunt, David Bamber and Janine Duvitski as a group of gossipers. I enjoy the film adaptations of Daniel Deronda, Middlemarch and Mill On The Floss and that's mostly why I watched this documentary. It's interesting and you can watch it here.

The Life of Charles Dickens
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Actor Anton Lesser does an excellent job of portraying Charles Dickens.

It's only been in the past few months that I have learned about the life of Charles Dickens a bit. The more I learn about him the less I like him, but the more I watch and read of his work the more I like his books. It's very strange, perhaps because he was such a strange man. I had hoped that England's favorite story teller was a quiet family man, he was a man who loved his children but he was more possessed by his stories than interested in trying to love his wife and raise his children. He was a man of powerful character and passions and of odd habits. Perhaps these things come with the artistic temperament. This is a very long documentary narrated by biographer Peter Ackroyd who takes the viewer on a journey through Dicken's life and to places that were important to him.
You might recognize: Anton Lesser as Charles Dickens, Geoffrey Palmer as William Makepeace Thackeray, Miriam Margolyes as Mrs. Catherine Dickens, Jack Davenport as Charley Dickens, and Natasha Little as Ellen Ternan. If you're interested you can watch it here, it's a long three parts in 18 videos on YouTube.

These reminded me of two other biographies I had enjoyed a while ago both were extras on DVDs I bought.

The Two Loves of Anthony Trollope
Author Anthony Trollope

This came with The Anthony Trollope Collection and was a very interesting look at this postmaster turned author. Coming from humble beginings, Mr. Trollope was a very disciplined man who sat down to write at the same time each day and took inspiration from the people he met and places he visited. His other claim to fame is designing the red pillar letter boxes that can be seen on street corners even today in England. You might recognize: the voice of Stephan Fry narrating and Clive Merrison as Anthony Trollope (I really only knew his voice from radio and audio books). I couldn't find and YouTube videos of this sadly, because it was a very good biography.

Who The Dickens Is Mrs. Gaskell?
Drawing of Mrs. Elizabeth Gaskell

This was done exclusively as a DVD feature and is on my copy of Wives & Daughters. It is really only a documentary and doesn't have any actor portrayals. It has quite a bit about the filming and the differences between Gaskell and other writers of her day. It does show several places she lived or visited and how her experiences and life figured into her writings. Very interesting.

Well, I'm off to eat Tim Tams with a cup of tea (I've been drinking a lot of tea lately) and watch Eloise At Christmastime with my sister and the rest of the family. It is Christmas Eve Eve after all! :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Good Christian Men, Rejoice!


Another simply lovely carol! This one has words by Heinrich Suso (?-1366) which were trans­lat­ed from La­tin to Eng­lish by John M. Neale and published if his book Car­ols for Christ­mas­tide (Lon­don: 1853).
Music is In Du­lci Ju­bi­lo, a 14th Cen­tu­ry Ger­man mel­o­dy; har­mo­ny from the book Christ­mas Car­ols Old and New, 1871.

Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul, and voice;
Give ye heed to what we say: News! News! Jesus Christ is born today;
Ox and ass before Him bow; and He is in the manger now.
Christ is born today! Christ is born today!

Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice;
Now ye hear of endless bliss: Joy! Joy! Jesus Christ was born for this!
He has opened the heavenly door, and man is blest forevermore.
Christ was born for this! Christ was born for this!

Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice;
Now ye need not fear the grave: Peace! Peace! Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one and calls you all, to gain His everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Once In Royal David's City


"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." - Luke 2:11

One of my mother's favorite Christmas songs is this carol which refers to the birthplace of Jesus. Another sweet carol and also a favorite of mine.

Once in royal David's city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her baby
In a manger for his bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little child.

He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And his shelter was a stable,
And his cradle was a stall;
With the poor, the mean, the lowly,
Lived on earth our Savior holy.

Jesus is our childhood's pattern,
Day by day like us he grew;
He was little, weak and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us he knew.
And he feeleth for our sadness,
And he shareth in our gladness.

And our eyes at last shall see him,
Through his own redeeming love;
For that Child who seemed so helpless
Is our Lord in heaven above;
And he leads his children on
To the place where he is gone.

-Words by Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Holly And The Ivy


This is a favorite carol of my family. The words and picture they paint clearly of Christ's birth, death and sacrifice for sins are just lovely. Not much is known about this carol which seems to date from Medieval times when holly and ivy were often used as talismans against evil. Later with the Protestant Reformation the words seemed to have been changed and compiled as we know it now by Cecil Sharp in the 1800's. A lovely carol and one I always enjoy hearing.

What are some of your favorite Christmas carols and songs?

Here are the words to the The Holly And The Ivy and below is a video featuring the Winchester Cathedral Choir singing the song in 1986. The sound quality of the video is perfectly lovely. Enjoy!

The Holly And The Ivy

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

The holly bears a blossom
As white as lily flower
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet Saviour
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn.
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

The holly bears a bark
As bitter as any gall;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all.
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Our Mutual Friend (1998)

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Rowing on the river.

I had seen this miniseries only once before and remember only that it had an interesting story and seemed a bit different than some other Dickens.
My friend Elise had mentioned several times that it is one of her favorite films and so I decided to purchase a DVD copy for myself to watch it again. Yes, I certainly did enjoy every moment of it! What a lovely story, full of twists and turns, plenty of humor and sweet stories of love and friendship.

In this review I don't really want to focus on the plot so much but give my appreciation of the main characters and the actors who portrayed them. Also I want to post many pictures because it is a visually stunning film!

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Keeley Hawes as sweet and courageous Lizzie Hexam

I have loved Keeley Hawes in all the other films I'd seen her in (Wives & Daughters, Under the Greenwood Tree, The Moonstone) so I looked forward to seeing her here and was certainly not disappointed. She plays a character who knows her own mind and is continually trying to make life better for herself and her brother despite her humble beginnings. A courageous young lady and one who quickly wins the heart of all who know her.

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Paul McGann as Mr. Eugene Wrayburn

I must confess on my first viewing of this miniseries I distrusted Mr. Wrayburn though I'm not sure why. And even when I got to the end I had no idea why he alone was worthy of Lizzie's hand. Perhaps it was my dislike of men with facial hair that first put me off but on a second viewing shows a young man intent on helping and improving the young Lizzie. Even his choosing Lizzie rather than a rich lady shows he is becoming worthy of her.

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David Morrissey as Bradley Headstone

Because I had only seen actor David Morrissey in Sense & Sensibility I immediately sympathized more with his character rather than Mr. Wrayburn. But as the story progresses we see a young man who becomes consumed by desire and very confused indeed. But I still feel sorry for him and he seems to do what is best in the end.

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Pam Ferris and Peter Vaughan as Mr. & Mrs. Boffin

This lovely couple brings humor and a truly unchanging love to the story. They are so charming and are always acting with great respect and honor. Money seems to bring a great change in them with a wonderful twist but they are still the truest friends in the world.

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Anna Friel as beautiful Bella Wilfer

A girl of wild ideals and a love of wealth and power she begins but thankfully what a different character she ends. She becomes as beautiful inside as she is outside. Bella's character wears the most lovely dresses and her hairstyles are elaborate and simply exquisite! It's no wonder John Rokesmith falls in love with her. Strength and beauty becomes her charms.

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Steven Mackintosh as mysterious John Rokesmith

His is a character to which I am always sympathetic even though it's not clear why at the beginning of the film. Besides being increasingly handsome he also become the true hero of the story. Next to Bella he is probably my favorite character of the film and is definitely added to my list of favorite literary heroes. Honorable, kind, generous, quiet, true gentleman and completely charming.

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Mr. Eugene Wrayburn and Miss Lizzie Hexam

The other supporting characters are perfectly cast and others are so evil, mysterious and strange. A wonderful tale, Dickens has outdone himself again! And Sandy Welch had adapted another wonderful period drama!

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Miss Bella Wilfer and Mr. John Rokesmith

Highly recommended to everyone who loves Dickens and Austen and period dramas. Just a wonderful miniseries that you hope will never end!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!


I had wanted to post this earlier but it is still the 15th of December so it's still current. Wishing a very Happy Birthday to my favorite authoress!

A few faces of Jane and some quotes about her by other writers:

Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen in Becoming Jane

"Read again, for the third time at least, Miss Austen's finely written novel of 'Pride And Prejudice'. That young Lady had a talent for describing the involvements and feelings and characters of ordinary life, which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with...." - The Diary of Sir Walter Scott, March 14, 1826

Olivia Williams as Jane Austen in Miss Austen Regrets

"Miss Austen understood the smallness of life to perfection. She was a great artist, equal in her small sphere to Shakespeare..." - Alfred Tennyson, 1870

Gillian Kearney as Jane Austen in The Real Jane Austen

" ... she describes men and women exactly as men and women really are, and tells her tale of ordinary, everyday life ... with such purity of style and language, as have rarely been equaled, and perhaps never surpassed. ..." - Lord Brabourne, The Letters of Jane Austen

Jane, thank you so much for your endless hours of work bringing to life the characters and stories we all know and love so well!

"Jane lies in Winchester -- blessed be her shade!
Praise the Lord for making her, and her for all she made!
And while the stones of Winchester, or Milsom Street, remain,
Glory, love, and honor unto England's Jane!"
- Rudyard Kipling, Epigraph to "The Janeites"

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Carols


Below is a lovely old Christmas carol with words and music by Thomas Ravenscroft, 1611. This is a carol sung by the choir in Under The Greenwood Tree that really captured my attention. In the film they only sang the last two verses. I ldo enjoy caroling!

1. Remember, O thou man,
O thou man, O thou man.
Remember, O thou man,
Thy time is spent:
Remember, O thou man,
How thou art dead and gone,
And I did what I can,
Therefore repent.

2. The Angels all did sing,
O thou man, O thou man,
The Angels all did sing,
Upon the hill:
The Angels all did sing
Praise to our Heavenly King,
And peace to man living,
With a good will.

3. To Bethlem did they go,
O thou man, O thou man,
To Bethlem did they go,
The shepherds three:
To Bethlem did they go,
To see where it were so,
If Christ were born or no
To set men free.

4. In Bethlem he was born,
O thou man, O thou man,
In Bethlem he was born,
For mankind's sake:
In Bethlem he was born
For us that were forlorn,
And therefore took no scorn,
Our flesh to take.

5. Give thanks to God always,
O thou man, O thou man,
Give thanks to God always,
Most joyfully:
Give thanks to God always
For this our happy day,
Let all men sing and say,
Holy, holy.

My sister and I had a lovely time yesterday with a group of young ladies from church. We all drove from our small town to the big city and enjoyed some gift shopping at the mall there. Then after a quick but yummy lunch we went straight to a concert celebrating the Magic of Christmas.

It was held in a georgous old-fashioned looking concert hall that has me wondering "where is the Phantom of this opera?" The concert featured a Broadway actor singing and acting out a condensed version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol adapted from Scrooge's point of view. The three spirits of Christmas were gorgeous larger than life puppets who danced about the stage teaching Scrooge the true meaning of the holiday. The chorus sang so many lovely traditional carols that proclaim Christ's birth and watching and hearing the orchestra brought me to tears a few times because of how lovely it was! At the close of the concert the audience joined in a carol sing followed by eight silly dancing Santas. It was a simply delightful time had by all six of us. After the concert we enjoyed ice cream and the drive home singing carols and looking for houses decorated in lights.

I praise the Lord for all His many blessings such as great friends and the message of Christ's birth still being proclaimed through familiar carols. God is so good to us!

Friday, December 11, 2009

He Knew He Was Right


This review has been a long time in coming, the last film of The Anthony Trollope Collection and my favorite adaptation of the three included in that set.

Mrs. Emily Trevalyan and Colonel Henry Osbourne her godfather.

The main story is that of a young Louis Tevalyan who is suspicious that his wife Emily is carrying on an affair with a much older man. There is a separation of the couple for a time and what is wrong turns horrible with rumors thrown out of all proportions. Doubts turn into bitterness and hate with a young child caught in the middle.

Miss Nora Rowley and her beau Mr. Hugh Stanbury.

Though the main story is sad in many ways it is the three subplots that really make this adaptation stand out and add humor and sweetness to a tale that mostly makes you want to cry. A sweet love story is that of Emily Trevalyan's yonger sister Nora and her affection for poor writer Hugh Stanbury. Hugh, apart from being absolutely charming, also emerges as a real hero through his patience and help to the wronged wife and her sister. Nora's father apposes the match but true love wins the day!

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Stanbury family: Mrs. Stanbury, Priscilla, Hugh and Dorothy "Dolly".

Emily and Nora stay for a time with Hugh Stanbury's family who are very hospitable and absolutely charming! His mother is sweet and kind and older his sister Priscilla is practical and opinionated. There are some wonderful moments in their company and the tenderness between Hugh and his sisters is just lovely!

Wonderfully talented Anna Massey is perfect as prudish Aunt Stanbury.

The second subplot concerns Hugh's youngest sister Dorothy "Dolly" who goes to stay with rich Aunt Stanbury who does not approve of his writing career but wishes to do right by the family who are rather poor. Her steps to make a lady out of Dolly include finding a good match for her, the first of which is the comical but money seeking Rev. Gibson. When his true motives are discovered Aunt Stanbury tells him off in a delightfully funny scene! In the end Dolly makes her own choice and her young man is perfectly suited to her sweet intelligent nature.

Comical Rev. Gibson with a rivaling sister on each arm - Arabella and Camilla French.

The third subplot centers around David Tennant's character Rev. Gibson in his search for a wife. After being rejected by Dolly Stanbury he decides to marry one of the French girls who he's flirted with for years. But which one? they are both silly and both trying desperate for a husband. Humor abounds as Rev. Gibson addresses the camera about the trouble he gets himself into.

Mr. Louis Trevalyan, miserable and still doubting his wife.

Adapted by Andrew Davies, this is definitely another wonderful drama from the BBC. The costumes and sets are just exquisite! The acting is very well done with the exception perhaps of Oliver Dimsdale as Louis Trevelyan who mostly has the look of a lost child throughout the film. But no wonder, once he's lost his wife's respect he soon looses his self respect and finds he has nothing left. But He Knew He Was Right up until the end.

Lovely Emily Trevalyan is certain she was right.

This film could also be called 'She Knew She Was Right' but in truth we see that neither Mr. or Mrs. Trevalyan were right. As a Christian I have my own convictions about marriages and especially a wife's duty to her husband. I believe it is a wife's place to protect her husband's name and not give the appearance of evil. A wife should also obey her husband and be submissive, the exception being if his request goes against God's moral law. Divorce is never acceptable and except in the case of abuse it is always better to stay together and work problems and misunderstandings out - and when you don't know what to do always look to the Lord.
If only Louis and Emily had the Lord at the center of their marriage many heart breaking situations could have been avoided.

Sweet sisters Nora and Emily portrayed by Christina Cole and Laura Fraser.

I'd recommend this film to everyone, it's such a lovely piece of period drama with perfectly painted characters, well told stories, and delightful settings. Just lovely! If an when you do see it I will add this note do persevere through the saddening first episode which sets the story line, the two middle episodes center on the subplot stories and of course episode 4 ties up all the loose ends. A classic and already a great favorite!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Christmas Header

I thought it was time for a more holiday look for this blog. I so enjoy Christmas and thought this new header had such lovely red, white, gold and blue colors. And the young lady's bonnets and curls are just darling! Can you guess what movie it's from?

Hope your Christmas plans are coming along well. Sugar cookies were made and decorated last night, so many cookies! They are wonderful with a hot cup of tea though.
My sister and I have plans to go shopping and then to a Christmas concert this weekend with some friends from church. We can't wait!

Here's the pevious Autumn header:

autumn header everything

Monday, December 7, 2009

Under The Greenwood Tree


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.

Fancy Day with her three suitors: Farmer Shiner, Parson Maybold and Dick Dewey.

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.

Keeley Hawes wonderfully portrays Miss Fancy Day.

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. :)

Carolers singing of the Savior's birth.

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!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Far From The Madding Crowd

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I first found this film when Charleybrown, my fellow blogger and period film enthusiast, mentioned a great place to watch period dramas. I'm not a great fan of Thomas Hardy novels (Tess, The Woodlanders, so sad and sinful) but I did enjoy The Mayor of Casterbridge and Under the Greenwood Tree (if only for the actors in them) so I thought I'd try watching one.

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One woman, three men who desire her.

Far From The Madding Crowd was first on my list and as I began watching it I looked up the story synopsis on Wikipedia and sighed inwardly because it sounded like another tale of misery. The story is essentially about one woman and three men who court her. The novel was first published in 1874 and was Thomas Hardy's fourth novel and first real literary success.

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Bathsheba Everdene portrayed by lovely actress Paloma Baeza.

The main character is Bathsheba Everdene (this story supports my theory that no one named after sinful Biblical characters will have prosperous happy lives), a young woman who though poor is intelligent and has been well educated. The first of her suitors is a shepherd Gabriel Oak who proposes to her when she is poor and she valuing her independence refuses him. A reverse in their circumstance soon occurs, Bathsheba inherits her wealthy uncle's farm while Gabriel looses everything when his sheep are run over a cliff.

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Mr. Boldwood consults Gabriel Oak's expertise.

When Gabriel and Bathsheba next meet he shows his leadership skills by directing a group of men trying to save Bathsheba's farm from fire. In need of a new Shepherd she reluctantly offers Gabriel the job and he works well for her. Enter suitor number two, the well respected middle-aged farmer Mr. Boldwood who is first attracted to Bathsheba when she sends him a joke Valentine that says "Marry Me". Mr. Boldwood takes the Valentine seriously and soon becomes infatuated with Bathsheba even asking her to marry him. Bathsheba is smart enough to know that it would be a secure match but she keeps putting Mr. Boldwood off. Whether she's waiting for Gabriel to propose again or values her independence, everything changes when superficially charming Sergeant Frank Troy comes into town and sweeps her off her feet. After they elope a series of horrible circumstances come which help Bathsheba to know that she's made the wrong choice!

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Nathaniel Parker as the shepherd Gabriel Oak.

Although it is a sad story of misunderstandings and wrong choices one character rises above all the others as a great hero. No matter what happens the quiet shepherd Gabriel Oak plods along making the right moral choices. Through all that Bathsheba does Gabriel loves her unconditionally and is always there with sound advise. He helps save her farm on many occasions and rises in fame in the county eventually managing two farms at once. There is nothing improper in his conduct and he gently wins Bathsheba's heart through his loyalty and kindness. A gem of a hero with a depth of character that takes our heroine the whole film to discover!

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Gabriel and Bathsheba on a snow day.

Overall I would not generally recommend this film, though it is rated PG it does contain language and some themes such as lust, premarital relations, unwed mothers, death and violence that are often harsh though fairly well done in this filming.
I do "like" it better than some other Thomas Hardy stories, but that's not saying much! When you watch an adaptation of his novels you have to be prepared for everything to go wrong. In this way his stories become rather predictable, if you look at a scene and say this seems nice just think of every way it could go wrong and it will!

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Trying to get a stubborn lamb to nurse - Bathsheba Everdene and Gabriel Oak.

An older filming with a good script and wonderful acting. Paloma Baeza who I recognized from The Way We Live Now, is youthful and pretty as Bathsheba Everdene. Seasoned actor Nathaniel Parker (who I enjoy as Inspector Lynley and love in Bleak House!) is excellent as Gabriel Oak. And even Jonathan Firth (younger brother of Colin Firth and wonderful as Prince Albert) did a wonderful job portraying the unsteady and complicated Seargant Frank Troy. It was interesting seein him portray a bad boy this time.
It ended well though, if sadly. I think this is my first negative review! :)
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