Far from the Madding Crowd
Directed byJohn Schlesinger
Screenplay byFrederic Raphael
Based onFar from the Madding Crowd
1874 novel
by Thomas Hardy
Produced byJoseph Janni
CinematographyNicolas Roeg
Edited byMalcolm Cooke
Music byRichard Rodney Bennett
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • 16 October 1967 (1967-10-16) (United Kingdom)
  • 17 October 1967 (1967-10-17) (United States)
Running time
169 minutes[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$2.75 million[2]
Box office$3.5 million (US/Canada)[3]

Far from the Madding Crowd is a 1967 British epic period drama film adapted from Thomas Hardy's 1874 book of the same name. The film, starring Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Terence Stamp and Peter Finch, and directed by John Schlesinger, was Schlesinger's fourth film (and his third collaboration with Christie). It marked a stylistic shift away from his earlier works exploring contemporary urban mores. The cinematography was by Nicolas Roeg and the soundtrack was by Richard Rodney Bennett. He also used traditional folk songs in various scenes throughout the film.

It was nominated for one Oscar for Best Original Music Score and two BAFTAs, Best British Cinematography (Colour) and Best British Costume (Colour) (Alan Barrett).


Set in the rural West Country in Victorian England in the mid 1860s,[4] the story features Bathsheba Everdene, a headstrong, independently minded woman who inherits her uncle's farm and decides to manage it herself. This engenders some disapproval from the local farming community. She employs a former neighbour, Gabriel Oak, as a shepherd. Rejected by Bathsheba earlier as a suitor for lack of wealth, Gabriel lost his own flock after one of his dogs drove them off a cliff.

Bathsheba impulsively sends a valentine to William Boldwood, a nearby gentleman farmer. Boldwood, a middle-aged bachelor, falls passionately in love with her and proposes; Bathsheba promises to consider his offer. However, she soon meets and becomes enamoured of Frank Troy, a handsome sergeant, dashing in red uniform.

Troy was to marry young Fanny Robin, a maidservant pregnant with his child, but she went to the wrong church on their wedding day; a humiliated Troy petulantly refused to set another date for the ceremony and was then posted to a different town. Jealous at seeing Bathsheba become besotted with the handsome Troy, Boldwood offers him money to leave Bathsheba alone. Troy plays with Boldwood, rejecting increasing amounts before humiliating him by announcing that he and Bathsheba are already married. Troy proves a selfish and irresponsible husband while Bathsheba at first continues to adore him. At the Harvest Home Troy sends Bathsheba off to bed alone, while he gets drunk with all the farmhands except Gabriel; when a storm threatens their harvested haystacks, Gabriel, with Bathsheba’s help, covers the ricks to avert disaster. Troy gambles away much of Bathsheba's money and creates disharmony among the farmhands. When Fanny comes to Troy, in an advanced state of pregnancy, to ask for his help, Troy says he will help her later. Upon learning that Fanny has died in childbirth, Bathsheba confronts Troy, who feels remorse over Fanny’s death and swears cruelly that he loved only Fanny, not her. His clothes are later found by the sea, and he is presumed drowned.

Boldwood badgers Bathsheba to marry him. She will not commit to an engagement but promises she will not get engaged to anyone else until the end of the 7-year period before Troy can be declared legally dead. If Boldwood still wishes it, she will then marry him at that time. It is then revealed that Troy has become the star attraction in a troupe of actors, enacting the dramatic role of the highwayman Dick Turpin with a horse that performs tricks on cue. When the troupe comes to Weatherbury, Troy spots Boldwood and Bathsheba in the crowd and enhances his theatrical makeup to avoid recognition. Troy then reappears to reclaim his wife at a party which Boldwood is giving to impress Bathsheba. Boldwood shoots Troy dead. Still besotted by Troy, Bathsheba throws herself on his body and loudly repeats his name in despair while Boldwood looks on in horror.

Boldwood is last seen in a prison cell, awaiting execution. Gabriel tells Bathsheba that he is emigrating to the United States. Realising how much she needs his quiet strength and unselfish devotion, Bathsheba persuades Gabriel to remain in Weatherbury, which he agrees to do only on the condition that they marry. The last scene shows Gabriel, in gentleman's attire in the drawing room of their manorial home, with Bathsheba quietly reading the newspaper in his company. Above the fireplace is the elaborate automaton clock Troy had given Bathsheba as a wedding present: a castle with a soldier in red uniform on the tower playing his trumpet to announce the hour.



The film keeps close to the book.

The budget was $3 million, 80% of which was provided by MGM, 20% by Anglo-Amalgamated.[5]

The film was shot largely on location in Dorset and Wiltshire.[6]


The film premiered on 16 October 1967 at the Odeon Marble Arch attended by Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon.[7]


The film is memorable for the subtly erotic scene between Sgt Troy and Bathsheba in which he flaunts his expert skills as a swordsman in a private fencing display in a prehistoric earthwork (actually Maiden Castle).

Roger Ebert found the scenes of the rural area and rural life to be "splendid". His strongest criticism is that the film missed the point of the small society of rural life:

Thomas Hardy's novel told of a 19th century rural England in which class distinctions and unyielding social codes surrounded his characters. They were far from the madding crowd whether they liked it or not, and got tangled in each other's problems because there was nowhere else to turn. It's not simply that Bathsheba (Julie Christie) was courted by the three men in her life, but that she was courted by ALL three men in her life.[8]

The film performed well at the box office in the UK but was a commercial failure in the U.S.[2]

Far from the Madding Crowd received mixed to positive reviews from critics; the film holds a 64% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 28 reviews.[9]



References in popular culture


The Kinks song Waterloo Sunset allegedly alluded to the film's star pairing, Terence Stamp and Julie Christie ("Terry and Julie").However this was denied by the song writer Ray Davies stating "“I think the characters have to do with the aspirations of my elder sisters, who grew up during the Second World War and missed out on the 60s. I was thinking of the world I wanted them to have.” [10]


See also


  1. ^ "Far from the Madding Crowd (U)". British Board of Film Classification. 15 September 1967. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b Alexander Walker, Hollywood, England, Stein and Day, 1974, p. 362.
  3. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1968", Variety, 8 January 1969 p 15. Please note this figure is a rental accruing to distributors.
  4. ^ 1866 is shown on Fanny Robin's tombstone later in the film; the events of the novel are compressed into a year or two in the film
  5. ^ Marks, Sally K. (8 January 1967). "Film Company a Hardy Lot: Film Company a Hardy Lot". Los Angeles Times. p. n11.
  6. ^ IMDB.com, retrieved 25 January 2018
  7. ^ "International Sound Track". Variety. 9 August 1967. p. 24.
  8. ^ Roger Ebert (23 January 1968). "Far from the Madding Crowd". Ebert Reviews. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  9. ^ Far from the Madding Crowd at Rotten Tomatoes
  10. ^ https://www.loudersound.com/features/the-story-behind-waterloo-sunset-the-kinks

Further reading