You’d think that a movie based on one of Thomas Hardy’s cheerier novels, starring Julie Christie and Alan Bates in their prime, with Peter Finch and a surprisingly sexy Terrence Stamp, and directed by John Schlesinger, would be pretty great, but you’d be wrong.
I saw it years ago, and remember being bored, but decided to give it a second chance the other night. Halfway through the three-hour epic, I found myself nodding off, so it took me two nights to finish the thing. I’m just glad that it’s been thirty years since I read Far From the Madding Crowd—which I loved—so I don’t feel betrayed on that score. I’ll probably reread the novel now, to get the film out of my head.
As Roger Ebert said in his review at the time, “The spacious landscape of Dorset is photographed in stunning beauty, and we get panoramas of hillsides with heroic characters running up and down them.” That’s about it, I’m afraid. Excellent cinematography by Nicolas Roeg and a nice soundtrack with plenty of English folksongs.
Here’s Stamp’s character, mourning his dead lover:
3 thoughts on “Far From the Madding Crowd”
It seems to be a truth (almost) universally acknowledged in England and America that any book in possession of a good readership must be in want of a movie version. Admittedly I sometimes use such movies as a shortcut to learning what the book’s story is. I saw Atonement for that reason, though I ought now to read Ian McEwen’s novel, I’ll soon see Never Let Me Go for the same reason, and though both of them may be fine films (Atonement definitely was, in my book), I’m sure I’d do just as well to skip the film and read the text.
Thanks to your post, I can see that I don’t ever need to see Far from the Madding Crowd.
One more thought: the folk song in the excerpt you posted is haunting. It makes me long to hear the soundtrack or learn what’s on it.
Yeah, I think you can give this one a miss. “Tess” (with Nastassja Kinski) is worth seeing, however. I’ll be reviewing it soon.
I think you can get the soundtrack somewhere — or you can find out the songs that were used and get full versions of them. And if you like that kind of thing, check out Green Linnet (http://greenlinnet.com/).
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