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Based on Thomas Hardy's 19th century novel, Bathsheba Everdene is a willful, passionate girl who is never satisfied with anything less than a man's complete and helpless adoration. And she captures the lives and loves of three very different men: Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer who is captivated by her beauty and proposes marriage; William Boldwood, a prosperous man in his early forties and a confirmed bachelor; and Sergeant Frank Troy, a handsome, reckless swordsman given to sudden fits of violence. Written by
I have watched this film many tens of times and never tire of its beauty. Each viewing has me finding it even more beautiful than on the previous occasion it may seem slow to first-time viewers but they should make the effort to watch the thing a few more times !!!
This film is without any doubt that which perfectly renders the atmosphere of Thomas Hardy's Wessex ! The careful filming, lighting and attention to the changing moods of the Dorset countryside is absolutely PERFECT, and the music is perfectly suited to the atmosphere ! This Film has just been issued on DVD in the UK but I was very disappointed to find that little or no remastering of the picture had been carried out and that, although the picture quality is reasonable for the time, I had been expecting the full treatment for a work of art such as this to get rid of remaining compression artefacts, spots, grain etc.! Also there are no subtitles for the deaf, and no subtitles or languages for foreign viewers (inadmissible !!) nor special features which you would expect for such a great work of art as this. Other films of Thomas Hardy country, such as Tess and others, pale into insignificance beside this one though it must be said that Tess, although taking place in Dorset was actually filmed in Normandy ( Cherbourg Peninsula) which would explain why the atmosphere wasn't the same.
Each scene of this film has remained indelible in my mind, the sheep being pushed over the cliff by the mad sheepdog, the corn market ( actually filmed in Devizes, Wiltshire ), the water flowing down Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, Dorset where poor young Fanny Robbins painfully seeking to mount during her last few hours on earth, the cock-fight, the beautiful views of the Dorset Coast with Durdle Door and the chalk cliffs, the romantic dalliance of Troy and Bathsheba doubtlessly filmed in one of those prehistoric burial mounds so common in Wiltshire. Truly, 'tis one of the most beautiful areas on earth. When I was at university in Bath, Avon, U.K. during the seventies, I made a point of visiting the Thomas Hardy country, and in particular the sites used in this film, as it was not too far away. I found a sense of timelessness there and the area has to be visited to 'feel' the atmosphere that the film exudes !
Above and beyond the magnificent sets and music, we have the actors' performance, which I seem to appreciate even more on each successive viewing of the film. Each character is very well developed and the performances are masterly even those of the minor characters. There is also a significant number of traditional songs of the day which are sung most convincingly by the actors. There is something quintessentially English about this film not to be found anywhere else, for this reason alone it should not be missed. I can only hope that one it will be remastered for picture and soundtrack and will then be truly appreciated on a home cinema.
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