After a month’s break from blogging, the next post has been coming for a while.And it’s finally here. Far from the madding crowd is the film that has re-ignited my fire for movie reviewing; Now I have well and truly returned to the fold.
Thomas Vinterberg’s stylish piece has shone far beyond the plethora of action movies that have so far dominated the first half of the year. To the stereotypical casual movie-goer, big names like the Avengers,Terminator,Fast and Furious and Mad max and(you get my drift)…will steal even more attention away from this precocious film that has ripened earlier than its fellow awards season competitors. Far from the madding crowd is a classic adaptation of a classic novel which bears the same name, but which doesn’t bear the same kind of hype in today’s thirst for crazy ass action fests ,flying cars and flying heros, teenage bildungsromans and romances full of flimsy self-discoveries and cheesy catharsis. Vinterberg and his talented cast have given us something different. It’s their own special take on a classic, while still bearing the same picturesque rural atmosphere and exemplifying Hardy’s theme of masculine-feminine dichotomies in its truest sense. Far from the madding crowd separates itself from this year’s early movie mediocrity; It is indeed,far far and away from the madding crowd.
For those of you unfamiliar, Far from the madding crowd got it’s name from a reference to Thomas Gray’s poem Elegy written in a country churchyard where the the calm and serene is idealized in the poem. Yet, it’s an ironic allusion because Hardy subverts the notion of the idyll, and this idea is so brilliantly captured by Vinterberg’s proggressive inclusion of chaos bubbling beneath the Wessex’s rustic veneer. For as long as an idyllic scene is present, so too does its concealed tension. This can only be achieved with Bathsheba’s duality of strong independence and vulnerable feminity, Gabriel’s purity, Sergeant Troy’s chauvanist ideals and Boldwood’s insecurity. Bathsheba is almost in constant dalliance with the trio of men, often negotiating a power struggle with them and with herself. It is no doubt that Bathsheba’s an independent woman but she will come to learn that the idyll confines of her solitary life will soon be tested,disturbed and questioned by the onslaught of love and lust and everything in-between.
Innate affinity is the first thing I think of when describing Carey Mulligan and how she simply flowed into her character. It was as if she was Bathsheba and vice versa. Exemplifying all the inner turmoil and struggles of a woman who wants to be loved, wants to love, yet doesn’t want to feel like she’s giving up her independence, Mulligan’s multi-faceted character is one to behold. Complemented by the trio of relatable archetypal male characters, Mulligan rose even more to become the Bathsheba Hardy created to be and more. No less effort is given to the setting and detail of the landscape in Hardy’s novel. Thomas Vinterberg doesn’t hold back on showing the lush lands of the country in all it’s vast pastoral glory. But the madding crowd is very much a whirlpool that threatens to sweep away all the serene away from Bathsheba’s country comfort.
Throughout the course of events, Bathsheba (Mulligan) is at the centre of her own whirlpool. She gets courted multiple times by multiple men. She struggles with making a success of her recently inherited farmland. And therein lies her grapple with her two opposing desires; A desire to succumb to love and yet also a desire to maintain a strong-headedness and independence. As you’ll come to see, Bathsheba will seek to understand and untangle her unresolved conflicts with a group of men who may or may not be helping with her best interests at heart.
I’m not going to give anything more away and I hope I haven’t already! It’s going to be a treat for readers of the book, and something refreshing for those who haven’t delved into Hardy’s country story. Far from the madding crowd manages to balance it’s melodramatic material with a genuine directing style. It’s not overly saccharine and doesn’t saturate with cheesy elements or cheap plot tricks. Not everyone can appreciate the nuanced undertones of love and struggle in the film but try and you’ll see Vinterberg’s film as having revitalized the age of victorian romanticism.