Drama PG Running time: 2:51
IMDB rating: 7.2 Aspect: Wide; Languages: English; Subtitles: English, French; Audio: DD 5.1
John Schlesinger's solid adaptation of Thomas Hardy's novel sees three rival suitors vying for the affections of the beautiful Bathsheba Everdene (Julie Christie decked out in a variety of bonnets and frilly dresses), who has just inherited a farm. The men in her life are stout, whiskered yeoman Gabriel Oak (Alan Bates), an impoverished local farmer; neurotic, repressed squire William Boldwood (Peter Finch); and handsome rascal Sgt. Troy (Terence Stamp), who breaks women's hearts for a hobby. Thanks to cameraman Nicolas Roeg and production designer Richard MacDonald (who also worked for Joseph Losey), 19th-century Dorset looks as pretty and as picturesque as a John Constable reproduction on top of a cookie tin. Not that Schlesinger or screenwriter Frederic Raphael underplays the duress of rural life. We see the hardship of the farm workers' lives as the seasons turn. The film opens with a spectacular sequence in which Gabriel Oak's dog drives his flock of sheep over a cliff, thereby forcing him into penury. Whether hunger or heartbreak, every character here suffers. Bathsheba (like the model Christie plays in Darling) is a free spirit in a society in which women's rights are severely restricted.