Far From the Madding Crowd - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Far From the Madding Crowd Reviews

Page 2 of 6
September 22, 2014
Unlike Nastassja Kinski, the Julie Christie here creates for herself under Thomas Hardy's narrative. Peter Finch and Alan Bates, as a result, draws sympathy easier with great performances.
flixsterman
Super Reviewer
½ July 7, 2012
Hardy's novel is brought to life with passion and flair.
February 11, 2012
Beautiful scenery, nice music, but NO character development, NO development of the relationships, male actors fine, but Julie Christie just pouts and simpers and looks 1960s Mod. Very disappointing. Thomas Hardy must have been turning in his grave.
January 29, 2012
I was only a little girl when I saw this movie. Terrence Stamp became my crush. I wanted to grow up and find a boyfriend like him. Of course when I grew up and watched it again, I knew that might not be the best choice. Julie Christie was magnificent.
Bill D 2007
Super Reviewer
½ December 14, 2011
John Schlesinger's surprisingly dull three-hour epic "Far From the Madding Crowd" is not so much a movie as a TV mini-series. It is grandly majestic in its look but puny in its content and perspective.

Just because something is filmed in wide-screen Cinemascope and covers a long chronological period doesn't mean it is broad in perspective. "Madding" has the look of a grand epic but the content of a soap opera. The Thomas Hardy novel upon which it is based must have some depth. But Schlesinger ends up providing the appearance of depth more than the real thing. His actors, who are almost absurdly talented, give a lot of meaningful looks, but they have little to say that is interesting.

Almost everyone from England's 1960s acting royalty is represented here, including Julie Christie, Terence Stamp, Alan Bates and Peter Finch. But great actors cannot do much more than look regal when all they have is soap opera to play. This is the downfall of British television in general: almost without fail it puts aristocratic actors into petit-bourgeois soap opera.

The film Schlesinger made after this, "Midnight Cowboy" (1969), is so much better than "Madding" that it's almost surreal. How could the same person direct these two films in the span of a few years? Amazing.

(Incidentally, I still don't know what the hell "madding" means. Also incidentally, if you haven't seen "Midnight Cowboy," you are missing out on something extraordinary.)
November 22, 2011
Not my boy Schles's finest hour. Stamp illustrating his swordsmanship in three minute dream sequence reminiscent of "heffalumps and woozles" sequence in Winnie The Pooh
September 13, 2011
A classic epic, with skilled performances and beautiful direction (if the word 'epic' can be applied to herding sheep in Southwest England).
½ September 5, 2011
A really rather marvellous film, those 3hrs whiz past.
June 15, 2011
Cuando John Schlesinger hacia buenas peliculas...Julie Christie una diosa.
April 16, 2011
Excellent version of the Thomas Hardy novel. Moving, interesting, intelligent plot. Solid direction. Beautiful setting and feel. Only negative is the extraordinarily long length - 2 3/4 hours, but it doesn't detract too much from the movie.

Good performances all round. Julie Christie is gorgeous and great in the lead role. Terence Stamp is instantly dislikeable as Sergeant Troy, the desired effect. Alan Bates gives a perfectly understated performance as Gabriel, and Peter Finch is convincing as William Boldwood.
½ April 14, 2011
I woke up in the middle of the night and ended up watching the whole thing on TCM except the very end (read about it, it was different from the book, which I've never read). Anyway, it kept me up a long dang time, I was instantly captivated. It reminded me so much of Dr. Zhivago, which is one of my favorite movies. It's long, stars Julie Christie, gorgeous cinematography of the countryside through all seasons, even had an intermission and whatever it is that comes after that (sort of the "time the leave the bathroom now" music). It was gorgeous, a riveting story about a woman being very headstrong and awesome, and being torn between a bunch of men who are frankly are a madding crowd. (btw, shouldn't it be "maddening"?) I guess those were the days that you were expected to have a man, I dunno. She picks the bad boy, as many of us do, and what a pain in the rear that ends up being! Dang. I mean, to quote Susan Sarandon in "Romance & Cigarettes" "It's just a hole! How different can it be?". Damn manwhore.
January 10, 2011
Classic from 60s that I had somehow missed all these years. Period film about the 19th century that shares some of the sensibility of early British folk-rock. There is a member of Fairport Convention in there somewhere.
September 8, 2010
Epic-length film-making is a dicey business, and one should think carefully about whether or not the story can support the epic treatment. FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD presents many difficulties in this regard; in adapting Thomas Hardy's novel to manageable length, screenwriter Frederic Raphael had to cut the story down to the bare essentials, leaving what is basically a pastoral soap opera. The psychological complexities which surely enriched the novel are gone, and with it much of the point; that much time is wasted in long, loving shots of the English countryside doesn't help, although Nicolas Roeg's cinematography almost compensates for this (more on it later).

What is ultimately most frustrating is that the characters themselves are leached of much of their complexity; the passion of Mr. Boldwood (Peter Finch) for the free-spirited Bathsheba Everdene (Julie Christie) is so abrupt, especially given that we are told he is "married to his farm", and so poorly explained, that when it dominates him and drives him to utter desperation, we really don't know why. That this fairly old-fashioned, fairly uncommercial period piece was made in the late 60s (perhaps in part to cash in on DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, also starring Christie) suggests that it may have been a pet project of director John Schlesinger, which makes its underwhelming nature all the more disappointing.

Films about unrequited love are difficult, in large part because showing another person as worthy of the pain of unreturned affection is incredibly difficult to do when one is not the disappointed lover. As such, the idea that three very different men should all fall in love with Bathsheba--one enough to stay loyal to her for years, one enough to forsake the girl he really loves, and one enough to go mad--is hard to fathom, partially because the character seems like a fairly flat free-spirit, and partially because Julie Christie's performance really doesn't make the grade. She doesn't breathe much real life into the role, and her Bathsheba isn't manipulative or really impulsive enough for one to wish her comeuppance, nor is she really sympathetic enough for one to root for her. She just sort of IS. And, while Christie is quite attractive, she doesn't have the kind of devastating beauty that would seem to justify, say, Boldwood's obsession. Christie isn't bad, but she seems somewhat lost in the role.

The men in her life fare better. Alan Bates' Gabriel Oak is easily the most sensible and likable character; virtuous (but not overwhelmingly so), resourceful, and patient, Bates really disappears into the role and ultimately steals the film. Terence Stamp is also good as the rakish Sgt. Troy, who gradually shows himself to be more than a simple cad; Stamp brings the expected sly energy to the role, while showing the troubled human beneath. As Boldwood, Peter Finch does well at showing the pathetically obsessive lover, but we gain little insight as to WHY he feels as he does, and one is left feeling sorry for him, but not really hurting for him. He was nonetheless given the National Board of Review Award for Best Actor.

John Schlesinger's direction is rather uneven: bursting with excitement and invention in a few scenes (the courtship via swordplay, the sorrowful rain/song montage in Part II, the drunken carriage ride), he mostly directs in the film-of-a-great-novel style that inspires little excitement. Frederic Raphael's screenplay, too, feels like a condensation of a larger work, and one that was not without its own flaws (a twist which occurs around 2 1/2 hours in feels like a twist, no more, and not a very good one at that). Visually, however, the film is a feast. Nicolas Roeg's cinematography, as noted, is wonderful, capturing the beautiful countryside and the painstaking production design by Richard Macdonald. In fact, if the film were silent, with the story fleshed out by intertitles, it could have been near-definitive. And if the film were silent, we could still have Richard Rodney Bennett's score as accompaniment. Bennett's music was the only part of the film nominated for an Oscar, and it's a fine, varied, romantic score, with nicely haunting elements and the intriguing use of a jig, slightly reworked, as a dramatic theme.

Despite its qualities, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD received mixed reviews (although the National Board of Review also awarded it Best Picture) and was met with public indifference. Although the film has its defenders, to my eyes, at least, the film's obscurity is not at all hard to understand; it's a respectable, unexciting film of a classic novel, and like most respectable, unexciting adaptations, it has little life of its own.
Super Reviewer
September 3, 2010
The costumes and scenery of this romantic saga are wonderful, and the direction is impeccable (John Schlesinger, with help from cinematographer Nicolas Roeg). But there's something curiously unsatisfying about this Thomas Hardy adaptation. Maybe it's that Julie Christie never earns much empathy as the heroine Bathsheba, and just seems irritatingly fickle. Maybe it's that she wastes so much energy on the terminally skeevy Francis (Terence Stamp), and neglects poor Gabriel (Alan Bates). Maybe it's the abrupt happy ending, which defies the tone of everything which precedes it. Or maybe the film is just overlong. But something doesn't fit.

I do know this much: The scene where moronic Francis wins Bathsheba's heart through showing off his sword tricks is one of the most ludicrous scenes I can remember seeing in a movie which intends to be a classy drama. I was haunted by its embarrassing memory throughout the remainder of the film and beyond.
August 4, 2010
Having recently just studied the book (although admittedly not read all of it), I knew the story very well. Hardy's language is quite difficult for me to understand at times, so I thought that if I watched the film and read notes on it instead I would at least have a good knowledge of the plot. I'm glad to say this was more than satisfactory and had a lovely atmosphere and music.
March 16, 2010
Liz, this one wasn't as good, but you'll get an idea of what the story is about!
February 25, 2010
Good story which seems to have been faithfully taken to the screen. It was a pity that Julie Christie appeared to have stepped straight out of the 1960s into Thomas Hardy's Wessex, she wasn't wearing a miniskirt but might as well have been because she looked so out of place.
½ November 19, 2009
After the successes of Billy Liar (1963) and Darling (1965) for which Julie Christie won a Best Actress Oscar, John Schlesinger took on Thomas Hardy's 4th novel from 1874. Schlesigner gave this classic old novel a feel of the British new wave, and it flies in despite it's epic running time. It flies by, and it's filled with a brilliant cast as well, it is a beautiful, sumptuous film too. It's mostly about Bathsheba Everdine (Christie) a beautiful young woman who inherits a farm in the wide Wessex countryside. She has a relationship with 3 different men, including shepherd Gabriel Oak (Alan Bates) who is attracted by her beauty. Then there's rich gentlemen farmer William Boldwood (Peter Finch) who is also trying to woo her, and there's also Hussar Sgt. Francis Troy (Terence Stamp), a handsome swordsman who eventually marries Bathsheba, even if he was set to marry Fanny Robin (Prunella Ransome). Photographed in glourious widescreen by Nicolas Roeg, this is a beautiful and powerful film, with some great performances and some very memorable scenes. The countryside of Dorset and Wiltshire is beautiful. To think Schlesinger followed this up with Midnight Cowboy!! What a transition!!
Page 2 of 6