Everdene is an orphan and a farmer who, after a stroke of good fortune (or bad fortune, it depends on how you view the death of an uncle), inherits an extremely wealthy and large estate. Everdene is strong, independent, and hardworking; she isn’t afraid of getting her hands dirty.
The story revolves around her independence and identity, her farm, and her love life, of course. And what a love life it is – she meets and wins the hearts of not one or two but three very different men. These men each come into and out of her life at various points in the story. They cause all sorts of problems, both internally and externally (let’s just say, there’s a gun involved). One of these suitors, however, does nothing but help and care for Everdene. He remains at her side through it all, even when she is oblivious.
This movie is easily one of my Top Five Favorite Movies Of All Time – maybe even top three. (It still doesn’t surpass Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice, though.) But seriously, I loved this movie. The actors, the acting, the setting, the costumes, the dialogue, THE STORY ITSELF – all SO good.
It wasn’t like one of Joe Wright’s period films (speaking of P&P); Far from the Madding Crowd didn’t seek to make every room or letter or teacup stunningly beautiful. But that was completely okay. I didn’t even notice much other than the story and the action – which were gripping. Occasionally infuriating and odd (the Valentine? Really?), but encaptivating.
Because the heroine takes what is, generally, the position of a man during this time period, a lot of gender role issues were explored. Everdene is, like I said, extremely independent; she does not want a man to tie her down. She’s a woman, but knows that she doesn’t need a man, although society around her claims otherwise. When businessmen try to scrimp on her payments simply because she is a woman, she won’t have it; she holds her own against them and finds that she can be successful on her own. Little feminist that I am – you know that I got fired up. This quote especially gave me chills –
“It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in a language chiefly made by men to express theirs.”
I’m not sure if the book that this movie is based on portrays this same #YesAllWomen idea, but if it does, that’s pretty revolutionary for this time period. Especially since it was written by a man.
I know that there are some issues that were too brief, too vague, which is the peril of many such movies. For example, I’m not sure how Everdene inherits her uncle’s land to begin with, because this is England in the 1800’s. However, I’m sure that this, and many other significant plot developments, are much more clear in the book – which is officially on my short TBR list.
Basically, this movie is everything that I love (period film, England, feminism, and romance) all rolled up into one. I highly recommend it to those who enjoy period pieces with strong but wronged female leads, such as Jane Eyre or The Duchess.
I, for one, was truly and wonderfully astonished.