30 Day Challenge: Day 19

Far From the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy



Yup, I’m delving into my 19th Century English literature collection again.  Hey, I’m nothing if not predictable.

I was originally going to pick Jane Eyre for this one, but there have been so many film and TV versions, I'm not actually sure which one is my favourite.  The latest version with Michael Fassbender as Mr Rochester is good even though it plays a bit fast and loose with the timeline.  But I also enjoyed Franco Zeffirelli’s take on the book with Charlotte Gainsbourg as Jane.
So instead I’ve dipped into the Hardy canon and chosen Far From the Madding Crowd.
This is one of those films that I will always watch if I notice it’s on TV.  I will concede that it’s showing its age a bit these days (it was filmed in 1967), and I have always thought that Julie Christie looked a little bit too ‘modern’ to be a convincing Bathsheba.  But the three male leads were all perfectly cast.
There’s Alan Bates as Gabriel Oak.  Rugged, steadfast and handy to have around if your flock gets a nasty bout of sheep bloat, he eventually gets his happy ever after with Bathsheba.  Admittedly, his two rivals had to be declared dead and/or insane first.  But this is Thomas Hardy we’re talking about.  This is the nearest he gets to a happy ending.
Peter Finch was great as Boldwood.  Cold and reserved, but naïve enough to believe that the valentine sent by Bathsheba was a genuine declaration of interest.
And of course Terence Stamp, the archetypal ‘bad boy’, as the amoral, womanizing Captain Troy. (I would totally have run off with Mr Stamp to join the circus.)
And add some fabulous cinematography, and you’ve got a winner.
The opening scene with the sheepdog driving the sheep over the cliff has me catching my breath every time I watch it (and I still look away when Oak shoots the dog).  The lingering close-up of Boldwood sitting in his prison cell after he’s arrested for the murder of Captain Troy is so haunting.  And then of course, there’s the iconic scene of Captain Troy showing off his swordsmanship to Bathsheba.
Damn, but this film is crying out for a remake.  But who would I cast?  Hmm, I think that’s a topic for another day.
And here’s the inevitable photo opportunity.