THE FILM: Far From the Madding Crowd
THE PAIRING: Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) and Gabriel Oak ( Matthias Schoenaerts)
THE MOMENT: Gabriel selflessly saves Bathsheba’s farm because he loves her.
For the past month, the recent adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd has been making the rounds in various theaters. While only a limited release, for those lucky enough to see it, the film proved to be quite the wonderful experience, one with an epic romance at the heart of it (for a more detailed look at the film and plot, see my review HERE).
Bathsheba and Gabriel
While Bathsheba (Cary Mulligan) finds herself at the attention of three men in her newfound position in life as mistress of her own farm and estate, it is Gabriel Oak played by the swoon worthy Matthias Schoenaerts that steals Bathsheba’s heart in the end. It takes her forever to realize her own feelings however. Bathsheba’s stubbornness and foolishness instead leads her into the caddish arms of a soldier, a man who leads her into a marriage trap.
While Gabriel, Bathsheba’s shepherd and ‘first love’ from before she became rich, warns Bathsheba about Troy’s untrustworthiness, she doesn’t listen. She had been seduced by passion, and after a brief courtship, the two are married. It is Gabriel’s selfless reaction to this marriage I want to focus on as the romantic moment of the week (although the ending is equally fabulous in all its romantic glory).
Arriving at her estate with Troy in hand, Bathsheba announces their marriage. Thus begins a party with all the workers there to celebrate. While Gabriel is clearly upset about the marital announcement, his love for Bathsheba does not falter. And instead of running off to wallow in his own disappointed love, he aims to save Bathsheba’s farm and harvest. A storm was on its way, and he knew they needed to cover the harvest or all would be lost.
Telling the new master of the house he needed men to cover the harvest, Troy laughed it off and refused. It wouldn’t rain, he proclaimed. Gabriel knew better as Troy continued partying while the storm came closer.
A patient man, who quietly does everything for Bathsheba in the background, Gabriel goes out to face the storm alone. He would selflessly do the work himself and save Bathsheba’s farm singlehandedly. It is this selfless act that stands out as a pure, romantic moment that deserves recognition. Their love isn’t about lust and desire, rather it is about a kindred connection between friends. This scene says so much more than a kiss ever could.
After Bathsheba begins to recognize her new husband’s deficiencies at the party, she heads out to help the nobler Gabriel. Even though it is dangerous and Bathsheba almost falls at one point, the two finish covering up the harvest, the looks between the two saying everything.
Even though her pride won’t yet let her admit it, Bathsheba is most certainly aware of her feelings for Gabriel and her own stupidity when it came to marrying Troy.
Down on the ground again, she even confesses to Gabriel that after Troy admitted there had been another woman he loved in the past, Bathsheba only married him out of “jealousy and destruction.”
Now, it was too late, at least for now. She was a married woman, and this not being an adulterous tale, Gabriel continues to wait and look out for Bathsheba’s well-being. But he wouldn’t wait forever.
As time progresses, Troy dies (I won’t spoil the how), and the two finally have a chance at happiness. Feeling he has waited too long for Bathsheba, Gabriel sets out to leave, only for Bathsheba to chase after him and tell him to stay, finally making the choice to be with the man she really loved all along, the man who had done everything for her.
The dreamily romantic ending only works, however, because of the quiet, built up moments between Bathsheba and Gabriel. These moments captured the heart of the story, and in turn the hearts of the audience. For those of you seeking an old-fashioned romance to truly get behind, the love story told in this recent film adaptation makes Far From the Madding Crowd a perfect choice to see on the big screen this summer.
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