The latest remake of the classic Thomas Hardy is beautiful to look at, but it cannot escape its past.
I love period dramas. Maybe it’s because I am a product of institutions, the army, boarding school, university and consultancies, I also performed in Gilbert & Sullivan operas before I was a teenager, and sang in the royal Albert Hall and National Festival theatre and thought little of it. I have a very proud sense of what it means to be British, and being British for me is about doing the right thing, keeping a stiff upper lip, and being meek (not blowing ones own trumpet). I also cannot resist a woman who dresses up, so in that regard period dramas are a visual wonder, with or without buxom cleavage. So I was willingly dragged to see Far from the Madding Crowd by T, and the time flew.
The story is well known, and the actor line up quality. Carey Mulligan plays Bathsheba Everdene (now I see where Katniss got her heroine name), a swarthy looking foreigner playing Gabriel Wood, Michael Sheen, the lovely Juno Temple, and Tom Sturridge as the dashing Sgt. Francis Troy. In all, the film is beautifully shot, and superbly acted, especially by Mulligan, Sheene, Sturridge and Jessica Barden who plays Bathshebas maid, and yet I still left the theatre feeling cold.
Perhaps it was the fact that the story itself is rooted in a time which we have moved so far away from, that going back to those old fashioned views of marriage, gender roles, unrequited love; all good elements in a romantic novel of the time just doesn’t feel good any more.
It’s a similar feeling looking back at a time earlier in life. Not so much that things were better then, far the opposite. Time has moved on, and we each grow and expand, and there is so much more joy in what is coming next than there is in what has gone before. The past has a vibe for sure, and I can guarantee that it doesn’t feel as good as you could feel today. You can take an old story, and give it a refresh with modern actors and new locations but you can’t hide the unmistakeable feel of something old fashioned.
As I was sitting in the theatre thinking to myself how yukky all of these old fashioned ideas and roles and concepts were, I said to myself, why doesn’t anyone make modern period dramas? No, not made in Chelsea, I’m talking about a film shot in the style of a period drama, but about modern events? Maybe I should stop whingeing and do it myself.
It’s a great movie though and throughly recommended for rainy Sunday evening.