Director: Thomas Vinterberg
With Thomas Hardy’s 1874 novel at its base, Vinterberg’s take on the earthy classic Far From The Madding Crowd makes for a turbulent, passionate and authentic film, that is undoubtedly watchable and riveted with talent, however perhaps not as iconic as Hardy’s original piece.
Carey Mulligan is Bathsheba Everdeen, a brashly sovereign woman torn between the admiration of three very different men – the sturdy shepherd Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schonaerts), the wealthy farmer William Boldwood (Michael Sheen) and the dangerously charming Sergeant Troy (Tom Sturridge), proving herself “too independent” for their affections, only to then fall for the rakish Sergeant in a flurry of lust and appetite.
Hardy’s literature is beautifully tackled by screenplay writer David Nicholls, providing a script that is resilient and endearing at once. Of course, a script of such dignity could only be carried to the end by a cast as skilled as this. Mulligan’s Bathsheba – a heroin and unexpected inheritor of her late uncle’s farm - is lively, headstrong and intelligent without being too brazen, bringing the much-loved character to life with sweetness, purity and integrity as she proudly takes on a heavy role of the farm’s Mistress. Sheen’s performance as the perturbed and “jilted” Mr Boldwood is remarkable as he demonstrates exactly why he is so respected in the business, presenting us with a character of such depth and intense emotion – the scenes with him are captivating. Similarly, Schonaert’s Gabriel is quietly fascinating and earnest, which really emphasises the recklessly brutishness of the Sergeant, so dexterously portrayed by the young Sturridge.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a period drama without astonishing scenery - so effectively captured by cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen in a presentation of swooping shots and daring camera angles which really showcase the beauty and peacefulness of Victorian England. A magnificently traditional score from Craig Armstrong accompanies this splendour, making the picture easily a modern classic.
This film is certainly not for everybody – but what film is? Despite the tempestuous plot and enchanting performances, there are some slightly dullish moments, which altogether compose a movie of yes, great exhilaration, but also a good amount of respite to allow for a little nap whilst watching on a Sunday evening. Extremely well made and well presented, Vinterberg’s adaptation of Far From The Madding Crowd is surely to still be enjoyed and remembered in many years to come.