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Posts Tagged ‘John Schlesinger’

After watching and reviewing the 1998 TV adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s great novel, I re-watched the famous 1967 John Schlesinger movie. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to blog lately and it is already about three weeks since I saw this version, so it’s starting to fade a little in my mind – but I just thought I’d write  something about some of the main points which struck me.

Julie Christie and Terence Stamp

Julie Christie and Terence Stamp

I enjoyed the 1998 mini-series very much – but, after seeing the Schlesinger movie, my feeling is that it is much the more powerful adaptation, with a greater intensity. I’m sure this  is partly because of the beautiful cinematography by Nicolas Roeg,  who later went on to direct Christie in Don’t Look Now, and partly because a cinema film (the first Hardy adaptation to make it to the big screen in 40 years) can have more of an epic, sweeping quality to it. At nearly three hours long, the film can also move at a leisurely pace at times and doesn’t have the same problem that many cinema adaptations of classic novels suffer, in terms of packing too much into a small space.

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I first became interested in Hardy when I had to study Far from the Madding Crowd for O-level back in the 1970s. It’s a book  I’ve reread many times over the years since then (and studied for other exams), and I still love it . His world view here is sunnier than in late masterpieces like Tess of the d’Urbervilles or Jude the Obscure, but starting to darken, and the title, quoted from Gray’s Elegy in a Country Churchyard, is definitely ironic. The madding crowd is never very far away from woman farmer Bathsheba Everdene and the three men who court her.

Although the 1967  John Schlesinger movie starring Julie Christie, Terence Stamp and Alan Bates is the most famous adaptation of this novel (I have now reviewed that version too), I think the 1998 ITV mini-series is also a  fine production, and it sticks much more closely to the book. It was directed by Nicholas Renton, who also made the excellent BBC mini-series of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters a year later, and, like that production, has a rich, multi-layered feeling to it, with achingly beautiful landscapes and at times an underlying flavour of melancholy.  It’s interesting to see how similar the sleeve of the  British DVD of this production is to the sleeve of the Schlesinger version!

The sleeve of the British DVD of the ITV production

The sleeve of the DVD of the Schlesinger movie

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