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: