Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Hardy Perennial

The four main characters from Far From The Madding Crowd are Bathsheba Everdene, Gabriel Oak, Sgt Frank Troy, William Boldwood Played in the 1967 film by Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Terence Stamp, Peter Finch – and in the 2015 remake by these actors; Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts,Tom Sturridge, Michael Sheen


“Why” said Bob “Have we driven all the way to Norfolk, to see a film about Dorset?” [because it was a weekend off, and we had time for the cinema, and I really wanted to see this film, that’s why!] I loved the book, and the first film – both encountered when I was a young teenage girl with romantic notions! Back then I felt Alan Bates was by far the best man in the whole of Dorset, and Julie Christie was foolish not to see this immediately. Unlike many of my schoolfriends, I didn’t think Terence Stamp was a heart-throb. And Peter Finch was just a sad and lonely old man.

The new film seems a little closer to the book – but this time round, whilst the shepherd Schoenarts is very good, he doesn’t have the ‘earthiness’ of Bates. I will forgive him that, on account of him being Belgian, and I am personally very fond of a pastoral Belgian who lives in Dorset.

Sturridge is a believable Troy – but I thought Michael Sheen was a brilliant Boldwood. Maybe that’s because I am older now, and more able to appreciate the character [Bob struggled with him looking ‘more like Tony Blair than the man himself’!] Mulligan is not quite as mischievous as Christie, but she seems to ride well.

buttonsred outfit

Technical comments

  • the photography was for the most part, stunning. But some of the CGI in the ‘harvest’ scenes was poor. You could clearly see the same guy in a smock in 3 different parts of the field – and a similar duplication was apparent in another shot. Back in 67 they just paid for more extras!
  • the costumes – I thought they were good. I liked the historical accuracy of the new, bright, dyes in the clothes [Hardy describes a scarlet outfit] and also the pretty Dorset buttons.

mulliganbrollyBob felt they were all a bit too clean and sanitised- he didn’t think Oak looked like a rough, impoverished shepherd, and even the pathetic Fanny Robin stayed relatively clean and tidy when she was poor and homeless. Bathsheba has an impressive collection of hats [you will enjoy those, Kezzie!]

Perhaps Bob is right – living down in Dorset, far from the madding crowds of the great metropolis, maybe the women would have worn older styles, and paid less heed to fashion trends.


However, there was one significant thing that wasn’t really explained in the film, and I am not sure that everybody would have understood its importance to the plot. This story is set at the end of the 1860’s and the Married Woman’s Property Act didn’t happen till 1870. Oak feels he cannot propose a second time to Miss Everdene, because he has lost his sheep, his farm, his livelihood, and she has gained an inheritance – so he’d look like a gold-digger. Sgt Troy has no such scruples. By marrying him, Bathsheba automatically loses all her rights to her property. He becomes the owner and master of everything. Boldwood is quite a decent chap all round [you can understand his frustration when she foolishly falls for Frank]

Yes there were a few niggles –but on the whole I was surprised to find I actually preferred it to the earlier film. My rating ****

Perhaps I should learn to make Dorset Buttons now I am living in the county. Have any of you got tips about this craft?

some trivia…

Carey Mulligan’s in-laws are the leaders of the Vineyard Church UK [and they’re the parents of Marcus Mumford]

Michael Sheen’s father used to work as a Jack Nicholson Lookalike

Tom Surridge’s Mum is the actress Phoebe Nicholls- who played the mother of John Hurt in The Elephant Man

women aged 60+ get a discount on Vue cinema tickets!!


  1. It sounds like I need to get round to reading the book and plugging that gap in my cultural education before I see the looks interesting xx

    1. Reading the book isn't essential - but it does fill in a few gaps. Enjoy the film first

  2. I had a crush on Alan Bates in the 60's.
    The cast of "Women in Love" stayed at the New Bath Hotel where I was working as a chambermaid in my school holidays and I was desperate to bump into him in one of the gloomy corridors. Sadly it never happened!
    This new film looks like it's worth the effort of going to the cinema, rather than waiting until the video is cheap in the supermarket!

    1. My friend was chambermaid in the hotel where they stayed in Norfolk whilst filming "Go Between". She never met any cast - bit DID get to make Julie Christie's bed!

  3. Fab review! I'd like to see it esp with added hat incentive!x

  4. Yours is the second positive review I have read ( and I've only read 2!). I studied the book for 'O' level and fell in love with Hardy's work. I have the original film on video and watch it at least once a year, and was worried about spending money to watch this latest version at the cinema in case it was a poor remake. Thankyou for posting a review!

  5. I'm looking forward to seeing this movie. I've read all of Thomas Hardy's books. They are wonderfully written, but I have to say that they are all a little depressing. As I recall they don't have happy endings.

    1. Maybe that's why I liked this one- the ending is happier than it deserves to be!


Always glad to hear from you - thanks for stopping by!
I am blocking anonymous comments now, due to excessive spam!