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on 27 April 2017
Fabulous viewing beautifully portrayed.
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on 23 July 2017
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Thomas Hardy tended to write rather bleak novels even if they ended happily (which they usually didn't). But the one exception is "Under the Greenwood Tree," a little rural romance about going with your heart.

And the BBC kept that frothy lightness alive in their 2005 adaptation, which makes the wildly underrated Keeley Hawes the center of rural romance in a small village. There's not much plot here except every single man being obsessed with the beautiful new schoolteacher, but the misunderstandings and fiery sexual tension -- as well as a subplot about a harmonium -- keep it moving quickly.

Beautiful and educated Fancy Day (Hawes) arrives in the little village of Mellstock to teach at school and care for her aging father Geoffrey (Tom Georgeson). Geoffrey dreams of Fancy marrying into what he sees is her rightful place, and she quickly has three devoted swains in Mellstock -- the cultured and ambitious Parson Maybold (Ben Miles), kind and wealthy Mr. Shiner (Steve Pemberton), and humble but handsome Dick Dewy (James Murray).

Also, there's this subplot about Maybold buying a harmonium, which infuriates the locals who have always made music in church with fiddles and choir voices. Maybold is kind of snobby and inflexible, so eventually they take matters into their own hands.

Meanwhile, Fancy begins to fall in love with Dick, but believes that they can't be together because he comes from a lower social class. But she can't bring herself to consider marrying Mr. Shiner or Parson Maybold, even though each would be an excellent match. Misunderstandings, rumors and stolen kisses complicate matters further, and Fancy must decide whether her heart or her head will determine who she marries.

There isn't a lot of plot in "Under The Greenwood Tree" -- it's pretty much about three men pursuing Fancy romantically, and her waffling about what to do. There are some subplots floating around, such as Dick wanting to expand his family's business so that he will be a better-qualified suitor for Fancy.... but for the most part, it's just the web of romantic issues.

So the TV movie is best appreciated as a pleasant little fluff piece, with lots of beautiful pastoral scenery and some picturesque village cottages, and plenty of scenes of dancing, fiddling and people drinking homemade cider. The comic relief is a bit tasteless (did we need farts and Mr. Shiner stepping on poop?), but director Nicholas Laughland knows how to provide a lot of sexual tension, including an oddly erotic scene of two people washing their hands in the same bowl.

It's also pleasant that there are no "bad" people in this story. Some of the locals do something wrong involving booze, but they're not bad at heart. The same goes for Fancy's suitors -- Mr. Shiner is a genuinely good, kind, sweet man, just not one Fancy is in love with; and despite the pastor being kind of snobby, he's genuinely in love with Fancy and wants her to be happy.

Hawes gives a magnificent performance here, and she instantly becomes the center of every scene she's in. Fancy is not a perfect person -- she can be a bit snobby at times -- but she's an endearing person who genuinely doesn't want to hurt any of her suitors. And she has brilliant chemistry with Murray, especially when Fancy flirtatiously hides his shirt and subsequently gets pushed over in the river.

Compared to most adaptations of classic novels, "Under the Greenwood Tree" is a fluff piece -- but it's such a pretty, endearing, with likable characters, pretty scenery, and Keeley Hawes. Who could want more?
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on 20 April 2017
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on 22 March 2014
I have always considered Thomas Hardy one of the most depressing authors of the English language so when I read that under the greenwood tree was actually cheerful and had a happy ending I just had to see it. However... be aware, under the smiles and so on this is about as cheerful as an erupting volcanoe. The girl has three beaux. Personally, I would have run a mile from each of them. However, she chooses the handsomest and the least suitable. On the other hand, why complain? Happens in real life all the time.
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on 13 January 2008
This really tasteful adptation was full of all thats good about Period Drama, or any entertainment come to that. A good and amusing storyline. A cast of well selected actors and actresses. A well presented setting. A well rounded family entertainment.
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on 16 May 2017
A joy to watch, despite those who have poo-pooed it - compering it with 'Far from the Maddening Crowd'.
Under the Greenwood Tree is well made includes a variety of excellent actors, who portray a very pleasing
and often humorous storyline.
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on 7 November 2015
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on 12 May 2007
I love adaptations of period dramas, especially those produced this side of the Atlantic. This one was 90odd minutes of enjoyment. Good casting, good acting and great location: not to mention the superb cinematography.
I am just an ordinary person who wishes to be entertained. I am not a scholarly egghead who always seem to insist on the filmed adaptation sticking strictly to the book from whence it was born. I have no idea whether or not this film was accurately portrayed or not...does it matter? I get a little tired of reading, usually, screenfulls of critique from clearly well educated, well read individuals and good luck to them. But they are missing the point. These visual productions, mostly intended for social viewing are intended to be entertainment. If one wishes to study literature in depth go to the library! It beggars belief that there often exists a general opinion that a book, sometime hundreds of pages in length can be brought to the screen for a two hour or so depiction with all the associated production difficulties and costs that necessarily go with it. Let us all just be thankful that that book usually provides a skeleton to work on and the rest is left to talented people, in front of and behind the cameras who bring us such pleasure.
This story is one of Thomas Hardy's ,shall we say, 'quieter' novels, but none the worse for that. There is no complex theme to follow, it is just a simple, straightforward love story. And one that we just know is going to turn out fine! It is all very enjoyable.
The only thing that surprised me about this film is how little I know about Jersey C.I. where the filming took place. I had no idea the countryside was so idylic in such a small island. The film 'snow' was a little bit dodgy but who cares.
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on 16 January 2006
Based loosely on the Thomas Hardy novel of the same name, those who liked the book may not appreciate this version as it bears little resemblance to the original. However ladies of a certain age and over will love the atmospheric scenes and gentle humour.
The plot follows a year in the life of Fancy Day, the beautiful new schoolteacher who arrives in the village amidst much speculation. Which of her 3 suitors will she eventually marry, the rich self-made man, the educated parson or the poor but drop dead gorgeous local lad?
Set just before the industrial revolution, against the background of the changing seasons, just right for a rainy Sunday afternoon.
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