Far from the Madding Crowd is a 1967 British epic drama film adapted from Thomas Hardy's book of the same name. The film, starring Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Terence Stamp and Peter Finch, and directed by John Schlesinger, was Schlesinger's fourth film (and his third collaboration with Christie). It marked a stylistic shift away from his earlier works exploring contemporary urban mores. The cinematography was by Nicolas Roeg and the soundtrack was by Richard Rodney Bennett. He also used traditional folk songs in various scenes throughout the film.
It was nominated for one Oscar for Best Original Music Score and two BAFTAs, Best British Cinematography (Colour) and Best British Costume (Colour) (Alan Barrett).
Set in the rural West Country in Victorian England, the story features Bathsheba Everdene (Julie Christie), a beautiful, headstrong, independently minded woman who inherits her uncle's farm and decides to manage it herself. This engenders some disapproval from the local farming community. She employs a former neighbour, Gabriel Oak (Alan Bates), to be her shepherd; rejected by her as a suitor, Gabriel lost his own flock of sheep when they escaped from their enclosure and fell off a steep cliff. Ignoring Gabriel's love, Bathsheba impulsively sends a valentine to William Boldwood (Peter Finch), a nearby gentleman farmer. When he misinterprets her capriciousness and proposes to her, Bathsheba promises to consider his offer. But she becomes enamoured of Frank Troy (Terence Stamp), a dashing cavalry sergeant.
Troy was supposed to marry young Fanny Robin (Prunella Ransome), a maidservant pregnant with his child, but she went to the wrong church on their wedding day and Troy was posted out of town. Bathsheba marries him after his return. Troy gambles away most of Bathsheba's money and creates disharmony among the farmhands. He learns that Fanny has died in childbirth and is filled with remorse. He swears that he never loved Bathsheba, walks out on her, and his clothes are found at the edge of the ocean.
Bathsheba promises to marry Boldwood after Troy is declared legally dead. The sergeant appears at their engagement party and threatens his wife; Boldwood kills him.
Shortly after Boldwood has been sent to prison, Gabriel tells Bathsheba that he is planning to emigrate to America. Realising how much she has always needed his quiet strength and unselfish devotion, Bathsheba consents to be his wife and persuades Gabriel to remain in Weatherbury.Julie Christie as Bathsheba Everdene
Terence Stamp as Frank Troy
Peter Finch as William Boldwood
Alan Bates as Gabriel Oak
Fiona Walker as Liddy
Prunella Ransome as Fanny Robin
Alison Leggatt as Mrs. Hurst
Paul Dawkins as Henry Fray
Julian Somers as Jan Coggan
John Barrett as Joseph Poorgrass
Freddie Jones as Cainy Ball
Andrew Robertson as Andrew Randle
Brian Rawlinson as Matthew Moon
The film keeps close to the book.
The budget was $3 million, 80% of which was provided by MGM, 20% by Anglo-Amalgamated.
The film was shot largely on location in Dorset and Wiltshire.
The film is memorable for the subtly erotic scene between Sgt. Troy and Bathsheba in which he flaunts his expert skills as a swordsman in a private fencing display in a prehistoric earthwork (actually Maiden Castle). An enthralled Bathsheba stands immobile before him.
Roger Ebert found the scenes of the rural area and rural life to be "splendid". His strongest criticism is that the film missed the point of the small society of rural life:
Thomas Hardy's novel told of a 19th century rural England in which class distinctions and unyielding social codes surrounded his characters. They were far from the madding crowd whether they liked it or not, and got tangled in each other's problems because there was nowhere else to turn. It's not simply that Bathsheba (Julie Christie) was courted by the three men in her life, but that she was courted by ALL three men in her life.
The film performed well at the box office in the UK but was a commercial failure in the US.
Far from the Madding Crowd received mixed to positive reviews from critics, as the film holds a 72% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 25 reviews.Won
National Board of Review Award for Best Film
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor (Peter Finch)
Academy Award for Best Original Score
Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Drama
Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Actor - Drama (Alan Bates)
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress (Prunella Ransome)
BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography
BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design