Sneak peek: 'Far From the Madding Crowd'

05:00 AM, Oct 31, 2013

Carey Mulligan stars as Bathsheba Everdene in 'Far From the Madding Crowd.' Alex Bailey, Fox Searchlight Pictures/


Written By by Brian Truitt, USA TODAY

The likes of Elizabeth Bennet and Anne of Green Gables might enjoy more literary name recognition over here, but right now, Bathsheba Everdene is big in Dorset.

Oscar-nominated actress Carey Mulligan stars as the headstrong and fiercely independent 19th-century character in Danish director Thomas Vinterberg’s big-screen adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s 1874 classic Far From the Madding Crowd, which is slated for release next year and currently filming in the county in southwest England.

The scenery is spectacular,” Mulligan says of the Dorset locale. “We are right in the middle of it, trying to get to the heart of this story that is so rare and thrilling.”

In dealing with themes of fate and love, Vinterberg says, “it’s a very modern story about a very liberated woman and a fantastic portrait of a female.

Hardy has a fantastic ability to put his characters in situations that mean life and death, so it’s a sweeping romance and a great drama at the same time.”

In the story, Bathsheba is courted by a trio of very different suitors: the well-to-do older bachelor William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), who makes her acquaintance after she inherits her uncle’s farm; the heedless young soldier Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), who uses his swordplay to impress the girls; and Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), the shepherd who keeps finding his way into Bathsheba’s life and is attracted to her attitude and passionate nature.

The romance aspect of the movie is integral but it’s not where Bathsheba begins, Mulligan says. “She’s forward-thinking, independently spirited and in a unique position for a woman within society at her time.”

Looking for love while also maintaining a self-sufficient personality is also “a very classic dilemma for a modern woman,” Vinterberg adds. “Hardy was ahead of his time writing that story.”

The cast also includes Juno Temple as the “beautiful, lovable but tragic” Fanny Robin, a woman strongly connected to Troy. “She just started on the film, but she’s been like a butterfly throwing light on the whole crew,” Vinterberg says.

David Nicholls’ adaptation stays true to the original prose, according to the director, and Mulligan brings her copy of Hardy’s book to set every day as her own story bible.

Surrounded by lush locations, animals and occasionally annoying stormy weather, Mulligan brings intelligence, emotion and vulnerability to the production, Vinterberg says.

She’s a really great team player, and still she’s a great center of everybody’s attention, both on the crew and in the story. She charms us all and she plays the graveness of the character, as well.

To me,” he adds, “she is Bathsheba now.”