Photos for January Stones and April PAD 2012 property of M J Dills (exception 1/16)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Far From the Madding Crowd – The Movie

I’m not sure I’ve done a movie review on my blog but the images of this film are firmly lodged and this keeps me from doing real work….

Hardy took his title, Far From the Madding Crowd from the 1871 Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, a lengthy poem in which Gray lifted phrases from Dante and Petrarch; lots of thieving going on here.

The place, far from the madding crowd, in Gray’s poem, is a graveyard. Reading the piece, one can almost imagine Gray having gone forward in time and looking back to write about regret, peace, retribution, forgiveness, love, envy.

Each one of Hardy’s Crowd characters can be found in this poem on one line or another. Gray’s poetry depicts sheep grazing over rolling hills as the sun lowers on the horizon; woods and farm animals taking to roost or burrow for the night; images of a happy family household; the small hamlet; the wealthy kingdom; earls and land gentry; rich and poor.

Tribute of a sigh is another line in the Gray poem that Hardy could just as easily taken to describe his romantic and tender novel.

In the outer hallway of the massive theater where we had escaped to watch our movie, ticketholders pressed against one another in anticipation of another movie, Mad Max in 3D, a movie full of special effects, raw language, terror, violence and bloodshed. Our screen held the attention of a mere forty or fifty moviegoers, comfortably seated and ready for a different type of action.

There's little bloodshed in Far From the Madding Crowd but there are soldiers and there is much death, tragic in all cases. There’s no sex but there is so much lust packed into about 4 minutes of the entire film that I turned to my friend, shaking my head and, feeling woe for all womanhood, whispered “fucking hormones” in her ear.

Thomas Hardy, father of the cliffhanger (in his novel A Pair of Blue Eyes, written in 1893, Hardy chose to leave a main character literally hanging from a cliff staring into the flinty eyes of a marine fossil embedded in rock that has been dead for millions of years), knew how to create suspense and just a little bit of terror. There was always enough to keep his readers on the edge of their seats and coming back for more. During a time when women wore cuffs to their knuckles and collars up to the chin, Hardy was able to portray sex scenes that deliberately left Victorian housewives and maidens trembling. You just won’t get that in Mad Max.

Carey Mulligan’s Bathsheba Everdene reveals a handsome, stubborn, intelligent and independent woman, unable and unwilling to respond to the advances of two eligible men. She makes the worst decision of her life when she solves her problem by marrying a third and most aggressive bachelor. 

Matthias Schoenaerts, (a must-see in Rust and Bone) is outstanding as the Farmer Oak, who inevitably and deservedly will win the heart of Bathsheba. The supporting cast, especially Tom Sturridge as the sexy, bad-boy Frank Troy, are all worthy of statues. The cinematography stands alone, chilling and warming, all in stride. 

Skip Mad Max and have yourself a treat with developed characters and no special effects (unless you count Sturridge's ruby-red puckering lower lip.)
Thanks for reading.

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