Written by Yosra Osman


Mulligan stamps her mark on Hardy’s tale

The latest adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd is in cinemas now. Yosra Osman took a look.

Far From the Madding Crowd 2015 version

At school I had to study Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd as part of my GCSE English Literature course. Being the super cool teenager I so clearly was, the sweeping tale of farmers and sheep did not appeal. My friends and I took delight in calling it Far from the Maddening Cow, because we were just so hilariously funny.

In class, we watched John Schlesinger’s adaptation with Terrence Stamp and Julie Christie over and over again; the seductive sword-wielding scene in particular left us in fits of giggles. We never took it seriously, and I never thought that 10 years later I’d be sitting through a remake and actually somewhat enjoying it.

The fresh adaptation does justice to Hardy’s novel (because, when reading it outside the classroom, it’s really quite interesting). Thomas Vinterberg takes on a grand old love story without being oversentimental. He weaves a tale of one heiress and three suitors that’s neither too emotional nor too corny, but altogether quite pleasant.

When we first see Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan), it’s made very clear she has an independent streak. We see her working hard at the farm, getting mud on her cheeks (God forbid), and saying no to a marriage proposal so hasty that many in my screening laughed. Although she still somehow manages to get caught up in a love triangle, thankfully Mulligan saves her from becoming as irritating as I found her a decade ago. She plays the headstrong Bathsheba earnestly and really stands out among the film’s cast.

“Tom Sturridge is the bad boy who should be avoided at all costs but typically isn’t. Terrence Stamp’s sword-wielding was more convincing, but Sturridge gives it a good bash.”

The main male characters in the film are, for the most part, well-cast. Matthias Schoenaerts, who seems to have become the go-to guy for romantic period dramas, courteously plays loyal farmer Gabriel Oak. He is adorably faithful and will always stay by Bathsheba’s side. Almost literally.

Michael Sheen is your serious older man who tries to be romantic (done quite sweetly, if I may say so), and Tom Sturridge is the bad boy who should be avoided at all costs but typically isn’t. Terrence Stamp’s sword-wielding, in my opinion, was more convincing, but Sturridge gives it a good bash.

OK, so it does sound rather clichéd as a period drama, but there’s enough going on for it to be entertaining. The plot drags in the last 20 minutes and it could have done with a bit more depth behind the numerous plot twists, which were more profound and reflective in the novel. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised and the beautiful production is sublime.

Thanks to some careful direction from Thomas Vinterberg and a really good Carey Mulligan, Far from the Madding Crowd is an engaging, thoughtful adaptation. It may not be quite as gifted as the older, wiser me has discovered the novel to be, but I think even 15-year-old me would have liked it.

Committed Far from the Madding Crowd fan Sarah Ledger explains her love for the book here.

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Written by Yosra Osman

Yosra Osman is a mid-twenties film fan and self-confessed daydreamer of dangerous proportions