Saturday, April 25, 2015

Far from the Madding Crowd – does the film live up to Hardy's novel?

Far from the Madding Crowd might be Hardy’s sunniest novel, but it is also subversive and unsettling. Thomas Vinterberg’s new film adaptation creates a Bathsheba for the modern audience, but does it capture the book’s strangeness and erotic energy?

Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene in Thomas Vinterberg’s Far from the Madding Crowd. Allstar Picture Library/Fox Searchlight
Far from the Madding Crowd has been called the “warmest and sunniest” of Thomas Hardy’s novels. In contrast to the inexorable tragedy of Tess of the D’Urbervilles or the nihilistic horror of Jude the Obscure, it indeed has a conventional happy ending. The narrative follows the fortunes of the spirited “woman-farmer” Bathsheba Everdene and her three suitors: the sturdy, steady shepherd Gabriel Oak; Sergeant Troy, a dangerous Don Juan in uniform; and the repressed gentleman farmer William Boldwood. Gabriel is ultimately rewarded for his constancy, and the book ends with his wedding to Bathsheba.

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