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4.3 out of 5 stars121
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 4 February 2008
It bemuses me to read some of the opinions expressed on here from those who are willing (inexplixably) to ignore or overlook the poor transfer of this fim onto VHS and DVD.
Far From The Madding Crowd was an event when originally released in 1967.
We sat back in our theatre seats and watched an epic on widescreen that was both enchanting and mesmerising. Julie Christie was a major star back then and dominated the screen with her portrayal of the headstrong Bathsheba.
Peter Finch,one of finest character actors ever - played the obsessed wealthy landowner Boldrewood, Alan Bates playing the romantic lead Gabriel,in another rivetting, earthy performance, and Terrence Stamp as soldier Frank Troy also turned in a fine performance. .
Prunella Ransome was unforgetable as Fanny Robin, the woman doomed to die
in child birth. This role should have been the one to catapult her career to many leading roles, but puzzlingly, it didn't,although she did have a major role in televisions "A Horseman Riding By," some years later.
John Schlesinger was a great director who previously to directing Madding Crowd,had directed Julie Christie in Darling and Bates in Stan Barstows A Kind of Loving.
He followed on afterwards with Midnight Cowboy, and then again with Finch in the immortal Sunday,Bloody Sunday,co-starring Glenda Jackson.
Studio butchers removed 10 minutes from the finished film length of 165 minutes of "Far From the Madding Crowd," without any thought for story line continuity whatsoever.
The film quality itself cries out for a company like Criterion to get on board, restore it to its original beauty and picture quality and return the 10 minutes of film,cut from the original.
I have emailed Criterion in the past about Far From The Madding Crowd, and any like minded soul reading this should do the same - approach them or the film company to restore the picture and re-release it to us the put upon public in all its original splendour.
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on 20 October 2004
At last! the long awaited DVD of John Schlesinger's 1967 cinematic masterpiece of Thomas Hardy's FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD. But don't throw your hats up too soon, discerning DVD buffs should avoid this dreadful quality package at all costs. I'm grudgingly prepared to accept the sad absence of ANY extras - even a trailer, but I have to say that this new release insults both it's valuable customers and the film itself, with extremely poor sound and the worst quality transfer I've seen in a long time. And it gets worse - Richard Rodney Bennett's towering emotional score is seriously depleted by a measly MONO soundtrack, and Nick Roeg's beautiful 2.35:1 Panavision photography is horrifyingly blown up to 16:9 full-screen aspect ratio immediately after the opening titles! This invalidates the sleeve-note claim to be the 2.35:1 version, and continues to rob the world from seeing the film on DVD in all it's widescreen glory. It also proves to be the short version, coming in at just under two hours, probably the TV cut, and certainly not the magnificent 3-hour plus version which I believe is available in widescreen on VHS in the US. In stark contrast, the other great Hardy film - Polanski's simultaneously released "TESS" comes in a fantastic value 2-disc restored special edition, packed with delicious extras, so this sub-standard MADDING CROWD fare is all the more difficult to take. John Schlesinger's masterpiece was photographed in Super-70mm Widescreen Panavision by Nicolas Roeg, one of the greatest cinematographers of our time, and performed by a rare ensemble of legendary players from Frederic Raphael's sumptuous screenplay. So will the studio please believe that this is the version we yearn to see again - and nothing less! Perhaps the highly respected US film restorers CRITERION will come to the rescue, and do for MADDING CROWD what they did for the US special edition DVD of Schlesinger's other great masterpiece BILLY LIAR (not to be confused with the lack lustre UK release). Ironically, even this mean offering can't stop the greatness of Hardy and Schlesinger from shining through, but until the arrival of a superior package - quality enthusiasts should leave this version on the shelf.
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on 23 November 2004
Okay, all the good news first: yes, this IS the John Schlesinger-directed version of Thomas Hardy's classic novel, finally getting the long-overdue DVD release it so richly deserves. Everything about this film smacks of class. I cannot fault the perfomances; Julie Christie is gorgeous as always, and Peter Finch, Terence Stamp & Alan Bates will always make the ladies swoon. The production values are all first-class as well with stunning recreation of time and place. The music by Richard Rodney Bennett expertly teases our emotions in all the rights places, and Schlesinger's vivid direction should have won an Oscar.
Now the bad news (VERY BAD): the DVD transfer and presentation is an absolute travesty, up there with Zulu Dawn & the British releases of El Cid and The Fall of the Roman Empire as the worst to date. Nicolas Roeg's beautiful 2.35:1 Panavision photography (one of the main reasons I bought this) has been severely cropped to 1.78:1 after the opening credits (the back cover of course does not mention this fact, merely stating incorrectly that its "2.35:1 Widescreen"), and there is a lot of print damage that at times makes certain scenes distracting to watch. We are also treated to a tinny-sounding mono soundtrack that does the film no justice whatsoever. There are no extras, which begs the questions where are the documentaries and commentaries etc (Stamp & Christie are still around)?? Your guess is as good as mine.
I hope that the-powers-that-be see fit to re-release this film properly, nicely restored with at least one or two extras, and in its correct Panavision ratio all the way through! Until then, I recommend saving your money and waiting for it to either (a) get a fine re-release or (b) show up on TV instead.
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on 12 September 2008
This is a review of the latest version (released on DVD in 2008) of John Schlesinger's 1967 film.
Having owned the previous DVD release of this film (and the newspaper freebie from a few years ago), I was hoping that this version would be an all new transfer with the original ratio of 2.35:1 preserved. I was so wrong! It's exactly the same poor quality print and exactly the same badly cropped picture as before. Despite the cover reporting that the feature aspect ratio is 2.35:1, only the titles are in the correct format. After which the image is zoomed to fill the 16.9 widescreen television picture. I could just about bear the poor print, but not the image crop.
6 star movie, 1 star DVD and I'm being generous with that.
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on 18 September 2007
The last thing I want to get into is a discussion of the technical elements of film-making here. For the time being, this is the DVD we have, even if the transfer could be better and a couple of small cuts could be opened - and it's much better than nothing.

First of all: I last saw this film when it appeared in 1967, I was a student, and I had just discovered Hardy a year or so previously. Memory can only last so long, so that the re-visit yesterday was as if it was a new experience. The film has worn very well; I wasn't disappointed.

The Frederic Raphael screenplay - a masterpiece of its kind - is remarkably faithful to the novel in a number of very pleasing ways. Hardy tied this book, perhaps more so than his others, to the cycle of the seasons; the weather and the landscape have the two lead roles, and acquit them very well. The two most memorable scenes of the film involve Alan Bates in a supporting role, as it were - Oak piercing the sick sheep's hides to let the air out of them, and the covering of the ricks before the storm. What's elemental dominates.

There's some superb acting here. The only real problem is that the main characters are perhaps too well-spoken - Boldwood's standard English fits, and Serjeant Troy (a brilliant performance from Terence Stamp, possibly his best) still has his Irish lilt, but surely both Oak and Bathsheba would have spoken with Dorset accents. Both Julie Christie and Alan Bates can "do" accents. Why not here? But, all said and done, FIVE wonderful performances - yes, Christie, Stamp, Bates, and Peter Finch all included. The fifth, probably the most magnetic of all, is Prunella Ransome's Fanny Robin; when she's on screen, you see no-one else, and full justice is done to this most pitiable of Hardy's characters. Ransome makes the beautiful servant-girl into a true plaything of Fate, in the best Hardy tradition.

My two bits of nit-picking both end up in the cinematographer's lap. We associate Nicolas Roeg with the wonderful camera work of his early films - "Walkabout", "Don't Look Now", and even the otherwise awful "Bad Timing" - but his hand has never been more visible, more a force toward good, than in "Far from the Madding Crowd." One fault is really Hardy's for going in for too much melodrama to provide a deus ex machina at the end, and the mistake Roeg makes is to dwell too much on the gore; but the other is all his fault. Troy's demonstration of swordplay to Bathsheba is probably the most erotic scene in all of English literature the way Hardy wrote it, and the film makes it - suitably martial, but otherwise antiseptic.

These are small quibbles. We have a masterpiece before us here; let's recognize it as such.
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on 17 September 2008
Far From The Madding Crowd [1967]Thanks to the previous reviewer for saving me some money. I hoped that they would take the opportunity to rectify their previous abysmal releases of this excellent production, but Studio Canal+ should be given a big minus for daring to turn out the same poor conversion of one of the leading films of the 60's. Presumably this was a cynically opportunistic re-release to coincide with the new TV version of Tess. When will someone release a widescreen, stereo, un-edited DVD of this? Until then, I'm out.

November 2010 and my question has been answered. However, the following is not a review of the same product as referred to above. This "Far From..." edition is NOT the Canal+ release, but a US import, Region 1, NTSC 2009 issue from Warner Home Video that Amazon has kindly made available to us. If you haven't got a player that is multi-region and NTSC compatible then it's worth getting hold of one to watch this new edition. It restores all the original features of the film, even the intermission (the last time I saw that was when it was first released in the cinema in 1967); it is widescreen, soundtrack remastered to Dolby 5.1, and while the image has been cleaned up, the original colours have thankfully not been over-intensified so the original atmosphere and mood is retained. Scenes and shots that had been cut out of the Canal+ version have been reinstated, such as the Harvest Festival service in the church, a fairly short but important sequence where Schlesinger gives us a telling overview of the characters and relationships at a key point in the story.

Okay, so all this may seem rather anal and nerdy, but the end result is that the excellent production, screenplay, directing, acting, music and cinematography all shine through to make watching this film again and again a great pleasure. Consign your older version to the dustbin (or recycle if possible) and get this one instead.
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on 12 August 2005
I agree with all other reviewers of this DVD, but must write something positive so nobody misses seeing it!
OK,the film switches from widescreen after the credits. But it's still not fullscreen, and pan-and-scan is never used. It's a crying shame, but it still feels clear.
I don't understand the sound quality - the music feels mono, but there is a definite stereo sound elsewhere(listen to the storm sequence).
Sadly, there are no extras, and most insultingly of all, no subtitles. I'd love to know more about this film.
In the end though, it's still a wonderful experience; that can never be taken away. The entire cast is perfect, from the sterling three-dimensional supporting actors to the (without exception) charismatic leads at the height of their powers. The masterful soundtrack (Richard Rodney Bennett)is astonishingly evocative, and comes complete with highly authentic 'folksong interludes' sung by the cast. The cinematography . . . whew, a stunning achievement by Nicholas Roeg. It's as if a Newlyn School painting has come to life! Any number of Victorian photographers are echoed: it's simply the most evocative and authentic essay on rural England ever seen on film. Oh, did I forget Thomas Hardy's story? 'Nuff said.
Don't let this third rate DVD put you off. See it, and yearn for a new edition with the rest of us.
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on 7 October 2004
This poor rating is for the disc, not the movie. The original aspect ratio of this film is 2.35. The title sequences, beginning and end, are in the correct 2.35. However, the movie itself, for some peculiar reason, is approx. 1.85. One of the reasons to view this brilliant film is for Nicolas Roeg's beautiful camera work. Also, the source print was not the best. There are also some noticable compression artifacts in a couple of places. Avoid until they release it properly.
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on 27 September 2009
For those disappointed with the UK release BUY THIS! Proper widescreen as I would describe it, sound remixed in Dolby 5.1 and extra footage complete with Richard Rodney Bennett's Overture and Entr'Acte. Even though it's an American release it plays on my Region 2 player. In all, totally satisfying and well worth wallowing in!
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on 21 May 2006
I was eagerly looking forward to receiving this video of my favourite film of all time - having worn out my own recording from tv. But how disappointing! Several scenes were cut, for no obvious reason except to save on video tape maybe, and sound quality not brilliant either. So, I looked forward instead to the DVD coming out. But again, from reading the reviews, I see that there is little if any improvement. What's going on? This was a major film of the 1960s and it's been poorly represented. Come on video/dvd producers - take note!!
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