Far From The Madding Crowd (2015) – Love in The Brutal Country

This isn’t a period movie if you want a good time. No, its depressing and yet somehow satisfying in its bleakness (I’ve watched too much Game of Thrones and now I think I am cynic for writing this), but that is also its strongest point. There is more to life than romance, but there is also the fact that it is still a part of a person’s life and especially in this time period it certainly was the woman’s main hobby. If you want to cry then this is a good movie.

Based on the 1874 book of the same name by Tomas Hardy this adaptation has made me curious to read the book. Hardy wrote the equally depressing yet somehow brilliant Tess of the d’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented, which itself has had its share of adaptations. Needless to say if you want bleak, early feminist story written by a man and plenty of city = bad and country = good metaphors and themes then these are the books and movies for you.


In the 19th century english country Bathsheba Everdene comes to a great fortune and farm left to her by her uncle. With her rise in station she sees to it that the farm prospers and she doesn’t give up her independence. Trouble comes though with her three suitors, all who fall for her almost at first glance; Gabriel Oak, the trusted shepherd and farmhand, William Boldwood, the old and rich landowner and Sergeant Frank Troy, the dashing soldier with a murky past.



This story is Bathsheba’s story and her forward-thinking feminist ideals resonate today as much as when the book was published. Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene is truly a woman ahead of her time. She want to be her own woman and make her own decisions and she won’t stay quiet. Not afraid of hard work. of taking control and being stern she takes control of the movie and doesn’t let go. She is not a perfect human being and can be frustrating and clearly stupid at times, but she learns and she grows and those flaws are acknowledged by her and others. Her story is one that as a woman I can relate to in being ones own person throughout and trying not to belong to anybody until it feels right. Mulligan makes a strong willed Bathsheba that seeps in to every scene she is in.


The three men courting her are all different and show different aspects of what a woman would desire. Everyone will always have their preferences of course and every single one of them pull them off beautifully. In the end though it is Bathsheba’s decision, yet we find ourselves seeing the three types of men we (women) have come across in our own lives in them. They are like the three main love interest archetypes, with plenty of depth to them and complexities that arrive to the surface and rip your heart out with them. Sympathy is to be given to all of them, because the men are well acted and characterised that you are as torn as Bathsheba in the end. Though, if the ending did not satisfy you then there is always fan fiction, just saying.

Matthias Schoenaerts as Gabriel Oak is the steadiest and the one who waits. Proposing to Bathsheba a little after they meet (it happens in the first five minutes, so not a spoiler per-say). He has a level head and works hard. He is one with nature and nature is in one with him as well. He respects the work and Bathsheba and they are friends for a long time. There is a quietness in him that resonates. And when the first five minutes of the film roll around we instantly feel sympathy for him.

Michael Sheen as William Boldwood, the rich landowner and by all accounts the safest option of the trio is picture perfect casting. The man is restraint itself, but when a joke goes too far he falls in love with Bathsheba. He knows he is old and would only want the smallest ounce of affection from her. It hurts to see him pursue her even thought it its quite obvious where the story is going. Sheen makes the man that could have been easily made in to a creep a man whom we sympathise with. His akward nervous demeanour, the desperation in the honesty of his affections and his need to be loved, but doesn’t know how to move on or try another way about it when things don’t work out. It just makes his fate all the sadder in the climax as he goes far beyond what he, or even we, thought he would do and it hits hard since our sympathies are with him. He is in the end in a position we have all been in, in terms of relationships that is.

Thomas Sturridge as Sergeant Frank Troy is the wild, dashing soldier that sweeps Bathsheba off her feet metaphorically and literally. You know he is trouble when he comes in to frame with his moustache. His only redeeming quality is his flame for his love, that through a simple misunderstanding, makes us sympathise with him. Otherwise he really is a warning sign in red. Sturridge doesn’t shy away from the dangerous and torturous aspects of the man and he delivers the darkness in the character when alone on screen.



As I said before Hardy was a big sympathiser for the farming community and the english countryside. What we often think of the countryside is the idyllic landscapes and sheep of Jane Austen, but Hardy (as well as this movie) show the brutal side to it as well. A storm can wreck a harvest, a bad dog can make you bankrupt. It is all about the risks that come from farming and this risk goes int to Bathsheba’s story and her decision with choosing her suitor. Marriage, like then and now, is still a risky business and it has to be done with caution. Whims of a party don’t make the weather better for the wheat and a choice made on a whim might turn sour quickly. The landscape of the Devon countryside is shown in its raw beauty and it really makes an impression in how it reflects the characters and the story with its raw realness.

If anyone is in a mood for a story with love and the countryside like you’ve never seen it before, unless you’ve already seen the movie, then I highly recommend to watch it. It keeps you on your toes on what will happen. The costumes are great, but there are some problematic ones. The men are great, but Carey Mulligan’s costumes are too on the nose, with pants and loose hairs that are to show her free willed spirit.  I understand what they were going on with the look, it’s just the very cliché way to go in a story that is anything but. That is my only complaint. All in all a good watch.

Thank you for reading!

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