Far From the Madd(en)ing Crowd (1967)

I don't know why I keep thinking a three-hour movies from the 60s will be good/hold my interest, but they never do (see: Oliver!, 2001: Space Odyssey). Far From the Madding Crowd, based on the novel by Thomas Hardy, is even worse because it doesn't actually use the time to explore ideas, characterization, or actually explain what's going on. It all seems to be implied. And while that usually means the filmmaker was trying to do something deeper, in this case, I was utterly confused and quite frankly bored.

Anyway, the IMDb descriptions says
Bathsheba Everdine, a willful, flirtatious, young woman, unexpectedly inherits a large farm and becomes romantically involved with three widely divergent men.
Why these men don't see that getting involved with a woman named Bathsheba would be a terrible idea, I don't know. At least one of the men, Gabriel Oak, manages to turn out okay and is decent human being. He's like an angel, get it? 'Cuz his name is Gabriel? And dependable, like an oak! Sigh.

To be fair, they were probably being very true to the source material, complete with obviously symbolic names. I've never read it, but I can only assume because it was originally a monthly serial, it had lots of description with bouts of drama thrown in at the end of each section. Plus, athe cinematography is gorgeous, despite how boring the characters are (good work Nicolas Roeg). There were many lovely shots and interesting uses of focus.

But let's get to the best part: Terence Stamp. Slightly fascinated by an article by Dan Callahan about Terence Stamp, I rented Far from the Madding Crowd. While Mr. Stamp did prove to bring a weird sort of sexuality to the screen in his portrayal of Frank Troy, he was unfortunately not in every scene of this glacially paced epic. I mean, he was the only character who managed to bring any drama, which made me excited mostly because I was all, "Frank seems kind of creepy, this could only end badly. Please can something bad happen so something happens?"

So, in honor of his being even remotely interesting, here's a photo gallery of Frank's greatest hits with captions. Also spoiler alert:

Did I mention he's a strapping young soldier?

With his first love Fanny after he gets dressed. Can you see where we're going with this?

Fanny shows up at the wrong church and accidentally stands up Frank on their wedding day. Frank is pissed and basically dumps her.

Franks meets Bathsheba one night by accidentally getting one of his boot spurs stuck in her petticoat. He Rhett Butlers his way through the encounter.

Frank declares his love for Bathshe-wolf through an unfocused frame of flowers.

In this scene, Frank shows off his swording prowess to Bathsheba. It's both a weirdly long scene and rather phallic, and I'm confused as to whether or not this is symbolic of them having sex. They spend so long on this scene I'm convinced it's more than Frank just being masculine and creepily flirtatious, but I have no idea.

One of Bath's spurned lovers, Mr. Boldwood, offering Frank money to marry Bathsheba like he should. Does this mean they did have sex? Is that why he should marry her? I know he totally slept with first-love Fanny, so is that why you mention Fanny? Because Bathseba's situation is similar? Implied plot points aren't helping.

In other news, Frank's nonchalance in this scene is kind of hot.

Newlyweds. Frank being sweet.

Frank is a surprisingly enthusiastic singer at church. And lovely shot composition, no?

Dance party!

Now using a cane as a phallic symbol. You can't heal everything with sex, Frank.

Cock fight!

Things finally get exciting, over two hours in when Fanny shows up again. Here's Frank kissing her when she and her child end up dead. This doesn't go over well with 'sheba.

Frank being emo in the rain.

Frank taking an emo swim in the ocean.

Frank as an emo carny after he fakes his death to get out of his loveless marriage.

And Frank comes back and ruins a perfectly awkward party. In case you want to drudge your way through this long (but pretty) movie, I'll just tell you that immediately after this, the most exciting part of the movie takes place. Also known as the last 10 minutes of the film.


  1. I think you mean 'Far from the Madding Crowd'!

  2. Yes. Yes I do. Haha. I might also note I stopped paying attention to a lot of what was going on? Apparently even the title.

  3. Indeedy, I suspected it might have been a clever ironic pun. Definitely makes sense in the context.