Tuesday, January 31, 2012

'Far From The Madding Crowd' Open Thread

What are your thoughts?

Read the whole discussion at the original post here.

1 comment:

  1. There was a lot said in this movie, about people and the way they interact, about character, its shaping and the consequences that ultimately result from earlier actions taken, sometimes just on a whim.

    "At home by the fire, whenever I look up, there you will be. And whenever you look up, there I shall be."

    I love the poetry in the things Gabriel says, the value that is held in the meaning. The notion of being present for one another, the steadiness, the not prizing gain for self so much as valuing the commitment made to another, as a matter of course.

    In younger days I was somewhat like Sgt. Troy, likely to make a bad decision, likely to blame others for it. And that shallow pride that so stiffens him and kills all the natural kindness and graciousness that he had the capacity for. There's an ugliness and smallness to it. I think Frank loved Fanny, but couldn't bring himself to be embarrassed as he was by her. In hating himself he went down a bad path, the marrying of Bathsheba was just a part of it. He didn't love her, certainly, and the fact that he had a certain power over her appealed to the weaker aspects of his character. Marrying a wealthy woman seemed like a plumb, but he wasn't happy in it, and eventually came to resent it, and her for representing it. Sad business, that. If he could have overcome his pride and married Fanny, he would have been a much happier man.

    Bathsheba I thought to be a simple, silly woman at the beginning of the film, who matures significantly over its course. To send a valentine to Mr. Boldwood, simply because it was there and shouldn't go to waste, and then to write "Marry Me" and nothing more...what a perfectly silly thing to do. The woman clearly had no notion of how the idea of a woman can play on the heart of a man. Poor Mr. Boldwood was not so steady as Oak, and ended up being consumed by the idea of being married to Bathsheba. I loved the drawers all filled with wrapped gifts and presents he had bought for her, to be given at such a time as might present in the future... but no such time ever did present. It underscored the fact that she played on his mind all the time. His desire for her was off, and he couldn't see that was the case.

    I loved the depiction of Bathsheba being isolated by her position, the fact that she had no one to confide in, her shame over being whispered about by her house staff and her feelings of being all alone in dealing with the hardships of life. And Mr. Boldwood's shock after shooting Frank Troy dead, to see Bathsheba crying hysterically over him, and to realize that it was Frank Troy that she desired... and not him.

    Gabriel was a steady, good man throughout. I loved the man's constancy.

    The movie was not broadly popular at the time it came out, though it is ranked as being in the top 100 British movies made (at #78, I understand). There is an Alan Bates Film Archive, and he speaks of his role there:

    "By the way, I didn't want to play my part in 'Far From the Madding Crowd', simply because I felt it would come as no surprise to anybody that I could do it, you know. It called on certain qualities that I'd used before. And I think it's necessary to surprise people -- and to surprise myself. Perhaps I'm trying to prove something to myself. I suppose I am. Why not? I would much rather have played Troy. Anyway, I didn't. But I mean, Gabriel Oak is a great part, and he's quite difficult because he's so good. Wise and patient people are very difficult to act."

    --Alan Bates as interviewed by Gordon Gow for Films and Filming, June 1971.

    Very true.