Far From The Madding Crowd is an evocative and sumptuous adaptation of Thomas Hardy's classic novel set in the 19th Century. The arrival of Bathsheba Everdene (Paloma Baeza) as mistress of Weatherbury Farm causes quite a stir in the all-male environment of the Corn Exchange. A beautiful and proud youg woman with a fiercely independent spirit, she soon ensnares and almost destroys the lives of the three men who love her - local shepherd Gabriel Oak (Nathaniel Parker), gentleman famer Mr Boldwood (Nigel Terry) and the womanising Sergeant Frank Troy (Jonathan Firth).
I have watched this so many times that my original VHS-format is falling to pieces! One of Hardy's most accessible novels, this story quite daringly (for its time) deals with such issues as love, patience and the -- often devastating -- effects of human sexuality. It is all done, though, with great humanity and even the villain has some redeeming features. There's little black-and-white in Hardy's portraits of the three men all humming around Bathsheba like bees. Nor is she herself a simplistic character.
As with the best of British television costume dramas, this 1998 version features some very well-known and -loved actors, although I believe that Paloma Baeza may not have been so well-known when she was cast as the female lead. Nathaniel Parker is simply stunning -- and irresistible -- as the superb Gabriel Oak (a more appropriate name for his character could not have been devised), and Jonathan Firth is very fine indeed as Sergeant Troy -- this may be his best role yet on the small screen.
The music is charming; the settings and costumes are perfect... Sit back for a few hours, and simply bask in the the warmth of this production. I can't recommend it highly enough.
This is really a great adaptation of the novel - true to not only the plot but as often as possible to Hardy's very conversations. The actors are uniformly excellent, assisted by the subtle, well-paced script, gorgeous scenery and involving plot. I don't think a better version of FFTMC will ever be made and absolutely recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Hardy - or of just sitting in front of an absorbing, fascinating, passionate and sexy costume drama for a few hours!