24 February 2022 386 Views

TBT: FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD

by James Murphy

I get a lot of friends asking to post reviews or asking me to write bespoke pieces.

One sent me a review of FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD. I decided to run it. Because I identify with this movie.

MAISIE MAE: TAKE IT AWAY! 

Far from the Madding Crowd is a 1967 British film produced by John Schlesinger and is adapted from Thomas Hardy’s 1874 book of the same name . The film remains pretty much faithful to the book with Frederic Raphael’s script . It starred some of the darling best actors of the 1960s , Julie Christie , Terence Stamp , Alan Bates and Peter Finch being the main characters and was filmed in the beautiful landscape of Wiltshire and Dorset. Julie Christie , representing the emancipated 1960s woman was ideally suited to playing the strong willed Bathsheba who goes against convention in owning and managing a farm .

Julie Christie and Terence Stamp , reported to be lovers in real life and mentioned in the Kinks song Waterloo Sunset , brought an unbridled passion and unlimited sex appeal to the screen in their characters that they portrayed . Julie Christie , playing the headstrong Bathsheba with oodles of pent up passion and sexual desire and Terence Stamp giving a strong performance as the dashing Sargent Troy displaying a vulnerable type of narcissism beneath his irresistible charm.

Both bring a verve and freshness to the characters . Bathsheba is the strong woman at the centre of the film whose choices propel the events of the film and the ending of the film. One of Terence Stamp’s most famous scenes and one of the most memorable in the film is the one in which he charges repeatedly at Julie Christie with his sword , teasingly in a sadistically phallic sword play the equivalent of a peacock displaying his feathers to his hen . Julie Christie stands frozen to the spot displaying minimal facial expressions , showing him that she is up for it . The sexual tension is planted and set with Troy’s control over her established .

 

Bathsheba’s first suitor is the grounded , dependable and man of very few words , Gabriel Oakes who she leans upon played by Alan Bates who gives a quiet and restrained but powerful performance . Her second suitor is Sargent Troy who sweeps her off her feet and who wins her heart . Her third suitor is her neighbour and landowner , William Boldwood played by Peter Finch whose ardour she unleashes when she sends him a Valentine’s card in jest with the words marry me written in side .

His longing , yearning and obsession for her is expressed in Peter Finch’s face throughout the film . Troy is set to marry his beloved Fanny Robbins , a servant at the farm that Bathsheba inherits , and who is with child but Fanny goes to the wrong church . Humiliated Troy rejects Fanny and seduces and marries Bathsheba only later to be filled with remorse when he discovers that Fanny and his child have died in poverty . He decides to leave Bathsheba saying , ‘This woman is more to me ,dead as she is, than ever you were , or are , or can be’ .

He then fakes his own drowning. Meanwhile Bathsheba is coerced into marrying William . Troy returns from the dead at Bathsheba’s engagement party to claim back his wife . Faced with the loss off the woman who he is besotted with William shoots and kills Troy. Bathsheba of course ends up marrying the dependable and reliable Gabriel . Far From the Madding Crowd is all about the turn of fate and the choices that are made . The way in which the road of a woman who thinks she knows exactly what she wants can easily change . A scarf lost in the woods , or you show up at the wrong church for a wedding, or you send a valentine to a near stranger on an impulse and suddenly several lives have changed.

Fast forward to 2015 and the remake of the film with Danish director Thomas Vinterberg and the only response from me is the question why would you ? Carrey Mulligan is miscast as Bathsheba in my opinion . She comes over as pretty and girlish with her small frame and unimposing features but Bathsheba is an independent headstrong woman full of womanly desires and sensuality not a pretty vulnerable girl who wants to be looked after . Tom Sturridge plays Troy but his performance is very weak . He appears like a teenager pretending to be a soldier and his sex appeal and charm not so much as dashing but has dashed off and has died and been buried . I have to admit I switched off before the end of the film because why spoil perfection?

MANY THANKS, MM!

 



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