For months now, a win has evaded my grasp! It has not been for lack of trying on my part. How many times have a typed my name, age, and contact information; retweeted, liked, and more over the last few months? Far too many. However, the drought has ended. I received passes to the movie premiere of Far From The Madding Crowd at the Fifth Avenue tonight, courtesy of The Georgia Straight.
Although I love English literature, particularly late 19th century English literature, Thomas Hardy has never been one of my favourite authors. He is, in fact, a major buzzkill. If you’re feeling happy, open up Jude the Obscure and all feelings of elation and joy will leave your spirit almost instantaneously. In fact, I found that particular Hardy novel so depressing I never read another, including Far from the Madding Crowd. However, that said, a period drama set in rural England is basically kryptonite to this superwoman. So, I left modern day Vancouver behind and surrendered myself to Dorset.
The film centres around Bathsheba Everdene who is pursued by not one, not two, but three men (we should all be so lucky). I won’t reveal who she chooses, if any, of the three gentlemen, but I’ll describe them to you.
I’ll begin with Frank Troy. He’s a soldier who oozes charm and wields his sword with a great deal of panache. In a modern context, he’d be the guy at the bar who buys everyone drinks and commands the attention of men and women alike. He’s the wrong guy. He’s the one a woman should never, ever, get into a relationship with.
Then, there’s William Boldwood, a rich landowner who is considerably older than the heroine. He dotes on her. He promises her everything she could possibly want. He wants little in return, not even love, as long as she marries him. Again, in today’s world, he’s not an unfamiliar character. He’s probably divorced, 50+, and has had his head turned by a woman half his age. It is possible that he will treat her well and give her everything he promises, but that’s not enough. Not for the woman, and really not for him. He’s just too insecure to see that.
Bathsheba’s third suitor is Gabriel Oak. He makes his living as a sheep farmer and works hard. He would be the man I would choose, not because I have a particular fondness for sheep farmers, but because Oak has qualities that are rarer and more valuable than rubies.
A hard-working man who is self-motivated and sees the intrinsic value in being industrious is a keeper. The fact that he also works well alongside Bathsheba to achieve a common aim is telling too. Another rare characteristic he has is his ability to listen, and think through his responses carefully before offering them. He’s the quiet type, but not because he’s shy or insecure. He’s quiet because he knows that getting all the information first and weighing the options before articulating his ideas is the prudent way to proceed.
I don’t think I would have appreciated such a man in my 20s, and neither does Bathsheba, at first. I believe that it is only in maturity and after considerable life experience that a woman can know to bypass the flashy, the superficial, and the needy to seek out a person of substance.
So perhaps for all his doom and gloom, Hardy does indeed deserve a read…
Note: The approximate value of this prize would be $25.