The first time I watched Thomas Hardy`s FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD, I was not sure what exactly delighted me about this film, or what made me watch it twice; is it the charm, magical story, superb cast, performance, or its innocent approach, that make the audience fall in love with this film? After seeing It the second time, I understand – this film has everything I wanted to see in old period drama, and reminded me of the Pride and Prejudice era. Thomas Vinterberg`s film is powerful, touching, brave, and absolutely astonishing from the beginning to the end. He takes you on a journey to see Bathsheba Everdene, who is a strong, self-confident and ambitious young lady, who rejects the proposals for marriage from two honorable men. Instead, she accepts a third proposal, where she does something she had sworn she would never do… – the biggest mistake of her life.
I am not sure where to begin when reviewing this totally engaging, fantastic, and incredibly well done film. I could set the synopsis aside, and talk about the landscape that Vitenberg chose to shoot – which is nature, untouched and innocent, it actually says more than the movie could ever say. The film begins with Bathsheba Everdene, who, after five minutes with sheepman, Gabriel Oak was more than enough time for him to fall in love with her. In their second meeting, he proudly offers her his heart; an opportunity for her to be free and do anything she wants… even to play the piano… But Everdene does what she thinks is best for her – so she refuses his proposal, and explains it as she is too independent for him.
For those who have never read Hardy`s novel, they will think, ‘how courageous, brave, and so very independent this girl is’, that she would even refuse an offer from a second man, Mr. Boldwood (Michael Sheen) who is middle aged, fabulously wealthy, and agrees to love her unrequited. He even offers this if she marries him just because of guilt, pity and uncertainty. But, Everdene once again proudly rejects this second offer, thinking that she he is strong enough to control her heart and feelings, that she needs to save herself for the one she thinks would be a great match for her. Well, she did not have to wait for that man for long. He arrives nearby, not only to conquer her heart, but to break it as well…
It`s hard to pick what else may fascinate the viewer in this movie, apart from its story – which is believe me – a very key part for this period drama, where not only the story, but the actors must play their part as if they were somewhere in the 19th century. Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene, Matthias Schoenaerts as Gabriel Oak, Tom Sturridge as Sergeant Francis Troy, Michael Sheen as William Boldwood, and Juno Temple as Funny Robbin, made this film something that is not easy to forget. There are two scenes I would like to emphasize, which I am certain, once you watch them you will agree – the scene when Sergeant Francis Troy uses his sword to impress the wealthy young lady, was more than enough for Carey Mulligan to portray how Everdene`s innocence and credulity disappear within seconds. She loses the battle for her heart and mind, as from that moment on, the only person who will own her whole heart is Sergeant Troy. For this Mulligan did not need to deliver a single line. She was totally into it, lost in the timeline, where she does what you as a viewer can expect from her – 100% dedication to every single part she delivers, making the scenes with her in them worth watching all over again.
Highlighting the second scene means giving out the spoiler, but trust me on this, it is worth watching. The line Troy delivers is something quite impossible to comprehend, and powerful enough to applaud both him and Mulligan for this emotionally packed scene. Far From The Madding Crowd is an absolute winner in terms of casting – I could not have picked better candidates to play Gabriel or Mr. Boldwood. Michael Sheen and Matthias Schoenaerts are superb. Their chemistry with Mulligan is so obvious that makes it impossible to deny. If there is an award for best cast, Far From The Madding Crowd must be on top of the list.
In conclusion, Vingerbet`s film does not bring anything new to the story masterfully written by Thomas Hardy. And what the director does is absolutely outstanding – he gets the best cast, a well written script, and transforms this film into a magical journey from where none of us would like to return.