Best Picture/Best Actor - National Board of Review Awards! JULIE CHRISTIE rejoins the writer and director of her starmaking Darling on Thomas Hardy's tale of a rebellious country girl for whose affection soldier TERENCE ST... more »AMP, landowner PETER FINCH and sheep farmer ALAN BATES becomes rivals.« less
"This is a beautifully filmed, well directed film adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel of the same name. With a luminous, pouty lipped Julie Christie in the lead role of Bathsheba Everdene, and with Alan Bates, Terence Stamp, and Peter Finch, as the men in her life, how could the movie be anything but superb?Bathsheba Everdene (Julie Christie) inherits a large country estate. There, she proceeds to act as few women in her day would. She insists on managing the estate herself, relying on her own god given talents. Smart, hardworking, and strong willed, she captures the attention of three would be suitors. Gabriel Oak (Alan Bates), the handsome, strapping shepherd, with a penchant for animal husbandry and farming, is the one most suited for her. William Boldwood (Peter Finch), an older, wealthy, neighboring landowner, adores her and obsesses over making her his wife. Sgt. Frank Troy (Terrence Stamp), a hunky, rakish grenadier, knows opportunity when he sees it and sets about charming her, despite the fact that his heart belongs to another.Now, why would author Thomas Hardy name the leading female character Bathsheba? Well, in Biblical times, Bathsheba made the married King David, the shepherd who slew Goliath, her love slave. So much did David desire her that he arranged to have Bathsheba's husband, Uriah, a soldier in his army, slain in battle. Ultimately, Bathsheba ended up with neither Uriah nor King David. The film parallels that Bible story in some ways and is somewhat prophetic for Bathsheba Everdene. What happens to her, as well as to each of the three men in her life, makes for an absorbing film experience.First class production values and wonderful performances by the entire cast, make this a film to remember. Terence Stamp is perfectly cast as the charming and rakish Frank Troy, who would steal Bathsheba's heart, while his still belonged to that of another woman, Fanny Robin (Prunella Ransome). Peter Finch plays the role of William Boldwood with such rock solid intensity that the viewer knows that sooner or later something has got to give. Alan Bates is perfect as the ruggedly handsome, stalwart and steadfast Gabriel Oak. Prunella Ransome gives a heartbreaking performance as the tender and bereft Fanny Robin. Julie Christie is well cast as the independent and outspoken Bathsheba, giving a luminous performance that engages the viewer.English folk songs pepper the film, adding to its period ambiance. Nearly two hours and forty minutes long, this film is a visual feast and highly entertaining. It is one that those who love period pieces will certainly enjoy."
Far from the Hollywood glitz
Edward | San Francisco | 08/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Thomas Hardy has never fared particularly well with movie-goers. His name just doesn't ring that vaguely pleasant bell -- like Edna Ferber, for instance. As a result his gloomy bucolic novels have rarely been filmed. (A 1924 version of "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" was given a happy ending! Roman Polanski changed all that 55 years later with his "Tess".) Things hadn't really changed that much by 1967 when John Schlesinger released his version of the 1874 novel "Far From the Madding Crowd". The picture opened in road-show style, complete with reserved seating, an intermission, and a nearly three-hour length. To understand why it flopped, you must remember this was the year of "Bonnie and Clyde" and "The Dirty Dozen". (The Academy chose "In the Heat of the Night" Best Picture.) Even though it ends with a fatal shooting, "Far From the Madding Crowd" is about as far from Hollywood bang-bang as you can get. One would think the flower children with their back-to-the-earth sensibilities would have picked up on the pastoral beauty of "Far From the Madding Crowd", but I think it was Hardy that cooled them and caused them to run to "Cool Hand Luke". The movie was withdrawn from distribution and, a few months later, it was chopped up, re-released, and advertised with posters promising a sexual license that didn't exist. (I'm amazed they didn't re-title it "That Madding Girl!".) Now, however, the film is available intact and in letter-box format; and, because it is basically a complicated love story, it's a good movie for home viewing. Schlesinger had already directed Julie Christie in two other movies (including the acclaimed "Darling") when he decided to cast her as the headstrong, fascinating Bathsheba Everdene. The three men she fascinates are each very different: Gabriel Oak, a strong, resourceful shephard (in Hardy's novel, the central character); Francis Troy, a hot-blooded, dashing soldier; and William Boldwood, a wealthy but neurotic landowner. Critics had trouble deciding which of the three actors gave the superlative performance: Alan Bates as Shephard Oak, the versatile Terence Stamp (he who had played the angelic Billy Budd) as the opportunistic Sgt Troy, or Peter Finch as Farmer Boldwood, a character Hardy might have written with Finch in mind. They're all three excellent. Julie Christie is, of course, about as 19th Century as a mini-skirt, but that anachronism actually works in her favor here. Bathsheba (the British pronunciation puts the emphasis on the first syllable) is suppose to be a defiant character, oblivious to woman's accepted role in Victorian society. "I didn't want you to think I was any man's property," she explains when rejecting Gabriel's proposal. And later when she takes over her late uncle's farm, she determines to be her own bailiff, telling the men: "I shall astonish you all!" (They seem a little confounded already.) It's a prescient role (many of Hardy's contemporaries didn't like the character), and Miss Christie takes it and runs with it. Her voluptuous beauty has never been more glamorously photographed, but the same might be said for the Dorsetshire countryside where the picture was shot on location by Nicholas Roeg. This is one of the most gorgeous movies ever filmed, and Richard Rodney Bennett's flavorful score (highlighted by English folk songs) beautifully complements the visuals. (I have this score on LP, but evidently it's not available on CD.) The stars are supported by a perfect cast of character actors, and Frederic Raphael's screenplay has them talking in thick Hardyesque dialects that are difficult but delightful. "Far From the Madding Crowd" is a rich cinematic experience for Hardy fans, Anglophiles, et al."
Where is the DVD of This Film?
Gabriel Oak | Middletown, CT USA | 03/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the best literary adaptations on film ever made, this film of Hardy's classic features fine performances from Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Peter Finch, and the dashing Terrence Stamp. Great cinematography by Nick Roeg. An Oscar nominated score by Richard Rodney Bennett.
I don't know why a good DVD hasn't appeared of this film. So much junk is available, why is this gem being kept from the public. As far as I know, the British DVD is a bad transfer of the film."
A beautiful film adaptation of my favourite book
Elizabeth O'Brien | Ipswich, Queensland Australia | 07/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Far from the Madding Crowd" has been, since childhood, my favourite novel. I can't recall how many times I've read it! And this film adaptation is one of the finest I've ever seen. I've loved it, in it's own right, since I was a child too - it's a "piece of perfection" in my opinion.The "Hardy Country" atmosphere is so evocatively represented by Nicholas Roeg's beautiful camera work and the main character's emotional states so finely played by the leads. Julie Christie portrays Bathsheba's pride and wilfullness perfectly, and equally well conveys her desperation and humiliation at the hands of Frank Troy. And what a performance from Terence Stamp! He conveys Troy's raffish charm and hidden vulnerability expertly. Who could forget that scene where he spurns Bathsheba over the dead body of his true love, Fanny? It must be one of the most powerful scenes in literature or film. When he says to Bathsheba: "She is more to me now, dead as she is, than you ever were, or are, or could be!" My god, fancy having something like that said to you!! How devastating! Then we have the intense and tortured Farmer Boldwood - Peter Finch in one of his finest roles. And, lastly, the gorgeous Alan Bates - the absolute personification of Gabriel Oak, leapt from Hardy's page into life!I agree with most of the comments from other lovers of this film - it is a truly underrated masterpiece."
The Best Adaptation of a Lovely Book
Gwen Kramer | Sunny and not-so-sunny California | 12/19/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I went into this movie with very low expectations, I was given to understand that it would be a rather dull, too 1960s, pseudo-epic. In fact, it is a dainty, intimate look at a woman and the three men in her life.Julie Christie's hair and makeup are indeed too modern but her preformance is marvelous. She is not afraid to show natural emotion even if it means looking less than glamorous. Peter Finch absolutely smolders as the spurned Boldwood. Terrence Stamp is a smiling rogue. The best of all, however, is Alan Bates as Gabriel Oak, the one man who truly deserves to win Bathsheba. Bates is exactly perfect as the nearly saintly Gabriel. His patience and love (but never priggishness) are perfectly translated.I adored the soundtrack of this film. Putting the song Bold Grenadier in when the gargoyles are filling Fanny's grave with water from the rainstorm. Wow. That was a marvelous touch and it really made the scene work.I know that the Masterpiece theater production version has a following and I like it well enough but I feel that this was the best version of the book.Compare both versions and see which one you prefer, I prefer the smooth going and brilliant preformances of the megawatt cast of this one."