In a drunken and disheartened state, Michael Henchard sells his wife at a fair. When he becomes sober again he realises what he has done, and though unable to find his wife and child, ...
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In a drunken and disheartened state, Michael Henchard sells his wife at a fair. When he becomes sober again he realises what he has done, and though unable to find his wife and child, changes his ways. He becomes the Mayor of the town. Nearly twenty years later his past comes back to haunt him. Written by
A thoughtful TV production, running over six hours, and a fine adaptation of Thomas Hardy's novel, arguably his best Wessex tale. Casterbridge stands for the real-life Oxford, a town where dreams can happen and a man such as Michael Henchard can rise as high as man can climb, and fall as far as man can sink. He is a tragic hero, a towering tour-de-force of good and evil, fearlessness and folly, and is beautifully played by Alan Bates in this version.
In support, Anne Stallybrass and Anna Massey shine the most, with Jack Galloway going some way to give life to the dour and ambitious Scot Farfrae, but stopping short of illuminating his complexities as set out in the book.
The music and the settings of this adaptation are excellent, and the atmosphere of a farm town, not yet touched by anything beyond industrialisation, is richly drawn. Slow-paced, but satisfying, this drama's reputation has grown steadily, and it is well deserved.
Interestingly, the adaptor of Hardy's book is none other than TV's infant terrible, Dennis Potter, and it is interesting to compare 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' with the likes of 'Pennies from Heaven' or 'The Singing Detective'.
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