Far from the Madding Crowd (2015) dir. Thomas Vinterberg
The Hunt director Thomas Vinterberg’s Far from the Madding Crowd is one of many film adaptations of Thomas Hardy’s acclaimed novel. Carey Mulligan is Bathsheba Everdene, an independent young woman in Victorian England who takes pride in working her family’s farmland and enjoys gallivanting through the picturesque English countryside in solitude. Bathsheba has no shortage of suitors, yet they all seem interested in merely acquiring her as their property, as their silent, abiding wife. Bathsheba is too strong-willed, too outspoken and too proud to let a man tame her, as she puts it in the film. Although many young women in Bathsheba’s position would jump at the opportunity to be married to a wealthy gentleman, she isn’t looking for shelter, security, money, or someone to protect her. Instead, Bathsheba is searching for someone to sweep her off her feet. She wants to be wooed, and swooned after, in passionate romance. In Victorian England, a woman with desires like these was widely considered frivolous. After all, as Jane Austen put it, if “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife,” surely it follows that any single woman must be in want of a husband? Not so, according to the headstrong Miss Everdene, who has instead set her sights on the prospect of the ever elusive true love.