There are some books that are easy to read, and then there are some books that are dense and at times confusing to understand. One such book for me was Thomas Hardy’s “Far From The Madding Crowd.” Hardy’s book was our assigned reading for our literature class in high school and I can still vividly recall the angst and confusion in trying to follow the narrative thread in this book. To complicate matters the book is set in a imaginary place called Wessex.
“Far From The Madding Crowd,” in its simplest form is the story of Bathsheba Everdene, a rich woman and her three suitors: Gabriel Oak, a shepherd; Sergeant Francis Troy and the wealthy farmer William Boldwood. One of the central strands in the book is the evolution of Everdene from a young woman to a hard-working farmer woman, who has quite a few unexpected challenges thrown her way. Instead of shying away she learns to deal with them. “Far From The Madding Crowd,” was a turning point in Hardy’s life and it was a turning point in my life too.
So, when I heard last year that Hardy’s book is being made into a film I was very curious to watch it. And I did watch it a couple of weeks ago and the film dislodged all those long forgotten memories about the book. All I could think was I wish as a high school student I had access to director Thomas Vinterberg’s adaptation of Hardy’s “Far From The Madding Crowd.” This a simpler version of Hardy’s dense novel and far more accessible and should appeal to whole new generation of audience, who may or may not have read Hardy’s novel.
What Vinterberg does in the film is underscore the pastoral beauty of Hardy’s Wessex and underline the essence of each character. So, we see a strong and spirited Everdence played by Carey Mulligan and witness the silent, stable and reliable Oak played by Matthias Schoenaerts rescue Everdene more than once. Martin Sheen plays Boldwood, the obsessive and rich admirer of Everdene brilliantly. Tom Sturridge as Sergent Troy does a great job that at one point I am sure the audience was ready to boo him for betraying Everdene’s love.
“Far From The Madding Crowd,” released on May 1, 2015 in San Francisco Bay area.
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marting Sheen, Tom Sturridge and Juno Temple.
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Photo credit: Fox Searchlight