Far from My Cup of Tea

Julie Christie in Far from the Madding Crowd (1967)

Bathsheba Everdene (Julie Christie) is a confident and attractive young woman who finds herself with a farm to run after inheriting it. But she quickly learns that owning and running a farm is hard work and requires help from others. The trouble is that three of those others become captivated by her and so Bathsheba finds herself with Gabriel (Alan Bates) a hardworking sheep farmer, William Boldwood (Peter Finch) a wealthy neighbouring land owner and then Sergeant Troy (Terence Stamp) a dashing soldier all taking her fancy. But having three very different men all in love with her can only lead to tragedy.

As I watched the John Schlesinger version of "Far from the Madding Crowd" I had an idea for a website, movies for book lovers, as there is definitely a range of movies which are adaptations of classics which seem to work well for those who have read the books they are adapted from. The trouble is that I have never been a great reader and can count the number of classics I have read on one finger so it is a website I doubt I will ever create. But that basically is the thing about this 1967 version of Thomas Hardy's novel, it is a movie which will work for those who have read "Far from the Madding Crowd" but could be a struggle for those who haven't and find it slow and drawn out, which is exactly how it ended up for me.

Terence Stamp in Far from the Madding Crowd (1967)

Now to me "Far from the Madding Crowd" seems quite simple as we have Bathsheba in the midst of three men; one who is hard working and who genuinely loves her, the other who is rich who can offer her his riches but not real love and then there is one who is dashing and offers excitement but also trouble. And so we watch as this romantic conflict plays out against the backdrop of every day life as workers gossip, go about the daily work of a farm and so on. The thing is that ends up feeling painfully drawn out with scenes which I assume try to capture the descriptive nature of the original prose but in doing so makes the movie drag on. It is why I am sure that those who enjoyed the book will enjoy this adaptation because it is what I call decorative and descriptive.

The thing is that whilst "Far from the Madding Crowd" failed to captivate me like it has done others there is no ignoring that it is a stunning production which certainly captures not only the period in which the story is set but is visually beautiful. I wouldn't go as far as to say it is epic but there is a sense of grandeur about it with beautiful landscapes and interior sets. Plus it features four enjoyable performances from Julie Christie, Terence Stamp, Peter Finch and Alan Bates.

What this all boils down to is that this 1967 version of "Far from the Madding Crowd" is a movie for book lovers, who will enjoy the attention to detail and attempts to capture the descriptive nature of Thomas Hardy's novel. But for those who haven't read Hardy's novel are likely to find it drawn out and over long although still a beautiful production.

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