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Vintage Review: Far From the Madding Crowd (1998) – A Close Adaptation

Far From the Madding Crowd Oak Bathsheba

Far From the Madding Crowd (1998) Vintage Review

Far From the Madding Crowd is a 1998 adaptation of the classic Thomas Hardy novel. Having read the book, I can say that it is a very close adaptation which I am quite pleased with. The length of the miniseries allows for more of the book to be adapted than in other versions. I personally find that most classics can only be done justice in the running time afforded by a mini-series.

Far From the Madding Crowd Bathsheba

Bathsheba Everdene is a spirited and independent minded young woman who comes to live with her aunt for a time. Gabriel Oak, a self-made young man (and her neighbor), takes a fancy to Bathsheba and offers to marry her. She turns him down, saying she does not love him. The next time they meet, they have since suffered a reversal of fortunes. She has inherited a farm and he has lost everything. He comes to work for her, burying his feelings in the process. He remains a friend and confidant to her as she is courted by other men and attempts to make her way in the world of farming.

Far From the Madding Crowd farmworkers

The music is simple and pretty, befitting the pastoral life that the characters are accustomed to. As with other versions, real country songs are sung by cast members in certain scenes which give a natural feel to them. The lighting and scenery are beautiful, feeling as though they have been plucked straight from the pages of the book.

Far From the Madding Crowd troy

Paloma Baeza manages to do well with the challenging character of Miss Everdene who has to remain sympathetic while having many flaws. She is quite good at eliciting sympathy and making the viewer care about her despite her bad decisions.  Nathaniel Parker is perhaps a little too old for the character but he is a perfect Gabriel. Since he’s usually typecast as well-spoken villains, it was nice to see his range. Everyone else was good too, embodying the characters well, especially Natasha Little as Fanny Robin and Nigel Terry as Boldwood.

Far From the Madding Crowd boldwood oak

RELATED POST – Lose Yourself in the Joys and Sorrows of Far From The Madding Crowd (1967)

One of the things the book is best known for is the fact that Bathsheba has three very different suitors. Because of this, romance does feature heavily in the plot. However, since only one of the men is truly worthy of her, you could argue that the love story is actually a small part of the whole mini-series. I personally enjoy slow-burn love stories as I believe the eventual payoff is more meaningful. However, some may feel that there is not enough of the main love story. That is true but the ending is lovely and definitely worth the wait.

RELATED POST –  Far From the Madding Crowd Film Review – The Epic Return of the Romantic Hero

The lesser-known 1998 version of Far From the Madding Crowd is a very good and accurate adaptation of one of Hardy’s best-known novels. Fans of the book should definitely give this one a chance. If you liked either the 1967 version or the 2015 version you might enjoy an adaptation that gives you more of the original story. It is an excellent period drama to enjoy on a long rainy day.

Content Note: There is a very brief, fully clothed implied sex scene. We see a naked man walk into the sea from behind. There is some very mild profanity.

Photo Credit: ITV


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By on June 30th, 2016

About Elinor Cackett

Elinor is a writer and semi-recent graduate of English and Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University. She has been writing ever since she could hold a pen but her love affair with fiction started when the entirety of David Eddings’ 'The Belgariad' was read to her at age four. She currently has a couple of books and half a dozen short stories on the go. She spends her free time writing, analysing media and knitting very colourful scarves.

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9 thoughts on “Vintage Review: Far From the Madding Crowd (1998) – A Close Adaptation”

  1. Interesting review. I’ve only seen the 1967 version of this movie which is very good. It’s almost three hours long, and I think it does a good job of reflecting the book, but I would like to see how a mini series would handle it. I’d heard of this version, but I hadn’t read many reviews about it. I must try to see this one.

    • I saw the 67 version when I was quite young so my memory of it is quite vague. I remember liking it though. I like that this version had time for moments like when she saves Gabriel’s life near the beginning when his hut was filling with smoke. I’m also a fan of Nathaniel Parker, so I may be a little biased.

  2. I love this version! The 2015 version is very pretty, but this one has more depth in my opinion and I just adore Nathaniel Parker as Gabriel. Last year I was at a literary viewing of the new FFtMC and the person doing a speech before the movie dished this adaptation, calling it non-creative, long and boring. Phew, I was quite angry!

  3. If I must be frank, I love all three versions of the novel – 1967, 2015 and this one. But this miniseries is my favorite version.

    Nathaniel Parker is perhaps a little too old for the character but he is a perfect Gabriel.

    Yes, he made a great Gabriel. But as for his age, he was at least 35-36 when the miniseries was shot. Alan Bates was between 32 and 33 when he did the 1967 film. And Matthias Schoenaerts was around 37 at least when he did the 2015 film.

  4. As someone who likes to compare adaptations, I will definitely say that this miniseries is the closest to the book. The 1967 movie will always be my favorite, but this Masterpiece Theatre production is excellent in its own right. Another poster mentioned that Nathaniel Parker seemed a bit too old to play Gabriel Oak, but other than that, it was extremely well done, earthy and intimate. I did like the 2015 movie, but in my opinion it was hurt by its condensed running time (perhaps film makers are of the opinion that audiences today don’t have the patience to sit through a film that is over two hours long) and it was a bit “too pretty” – eye candy, if you will. While there’s no doubt that John Schlesinger’s version was made in the 1960s, the music, acting and cinematography is very captivating (nice that it was re-issued in theaters in Britain and was given a release on Blu-ray), and I just adore the lead actors. Alan Bates is probably my favorite Gabriel Oak, although all of the actors who have played the role are excellent. I agree that if you want to see a version that has more character development, the 1998 miniseries and the 1967 film are worth seeking out. Great review!


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