Story

Based on the classic Thomas Hardy novel, Far from the Madding Crowd is set in Dorset, England, during the 19th century. Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) is independent, headstrong and beautiful. She is also educated but lives a simple life on a farm. She meets a young neighbouring farmer, Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), who immediately falls in love with her. He asks her to marry him, but Bathsheba has no plans to marry and turns him down.

Circumstances change suddenly when Gabriel loses his farm and everything he owns, while Bathsheba inherits a grand house and farm from her uncle. Gabriel becomes the manager of Bathsheba’s farm but never loses his love for her. A wealthy neighbour, William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), also falls in love with Bathsheba but she turns down his marriage proposal too. Bathsheba then foolishly falls in love with a soldier of poor character, Sergeant Francis Troy (Tom Sturridge), and marries him. Troy becomes master of the estate and promptly loses much of their money to drinking and gambling. Troy had previously been in love with a young girl, Fanny Robin (Juno Temple). When he finds her destitute and pregnant, he plans to leave Bathsheba. Fanny dies in childbirth and Troy, heartbroken, swims out to sea and is presumably drowned.

Bathsheba is now tempted to marry William Boldwood, who promises to clear Troy’s debts. But unexpected events lead to a different outcome.

Themes

Death in childbirth; animal distress; the position of women in society; murder

Violence

Far from the Madding Crowd has some violence. For example:

  • Gabriel shoots a dog (the dog’s death isn’t shown on screen but we see Gabriel fire the gun).
  • Men punch each other during a boxing match. They have blood on their faces.
  • Troy yells at Bathsheba and physically moves her into a carriage.
  • Troy loses his temper when Bathsheba refuses to give him money. He yells at her and storms out.
  • Boldwood shoots a man dead.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Far from the Madding Crowd has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example, a sheepdog herds a flock of sheep to the edge of a cliff and they all fall over. The scene shows some sheep falling, and it also shows them all dead on the beach. Gabriel cries and shouts in grief when he sees the dead sheep.

From 5-8
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, Far from the Madding Crowd has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:

  • A fire destroys several barns on the farm. Gabriel thinks that Bathsheba might be inside the house.
  • He douses himself in water, climbs a ladder and tries to break through the roof with an axe, but he finds no one inside.
  • Sheep lie on the ground sick and dying. Gabriel has to stab one in the stomach with a knife to release infection.
  • Gabriel and Bathsheba have to cover bales of hay in a thunderstorm. It’s raining and quite scary.
  • Bathsheba almost falls off the ladder after a particularly loud thunderclap and lightning bolt.
  • Troy practises his sword-fighting by aiming his sword at a cow. He chases a flock of geese in anger.

From 8-13
In addition to the violent and scary scenes mentioned above, Far from the Madding Crowd has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:

  • Troy asks Bathsheba to trust him, waves his sword close to her face and body, and cuts off some of her hair.
  • Fanny begs for money at a fair.
  • Bathsheba opens Fanny’s coffin and sees Fanny dead, holding her dead baby.

Over 13
In addition to the violent and scary scenes mentioned above, Far from the Madding Crowd has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:

  • Troy kisses Fanny’s corpse on the mouth.
  • Troy swims out into the ocean and is presumed dead.

Sexual references

None of concern

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Far from the Madding Crowd shows some use of substances. For example:

  • Characters drink alcohol at various events.
  • Troy supplies alcohol to farm workers, who all get quite drunk.
  • Characters smoke cigars, and Troy smokes a cigarette.

Nudity and sexual activity

Far from the Madding Crowd shows some partial nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • Troy kisses Bathsheba passionately.
  • Troy and Bathsheba have sex – not much is shown and there is no nudity.
  • Troy strips off to swim out in the ocean but is shown from behind, waist up.
  • Bathsheba and Gabriel kiss.

Product placement

None

Coarse language

None of concern

Ideas to discuss with your children

Far from the Madding Crowd is a historical drama based on the well-known Thomas Hardy novel. It is set in beautiful locations in the south of England and is a good retelling of the original story. It’s very well acted. 

This movie will have quite wide appeal and is likely to interest teenagers, particularly those who are studying the book at school. Disturbing themes, as well as scenes of death and animal distress, make the movie unsuitable for children under 13 years. We recommend parental guidance for children aged 13-15 years.

The main messages from this movie concern the position of women in society and women’s need for self-determination and equality.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include independence, determination and Bathsheba’s desire to be her own person, not just a man’s companion.

You could also talk about the historical treatment of women shown in the movie. For example:

  • Why won’t men buy Bathsheba’s grain?
  • Why do men feel that women need protecting?
  • How different is the situation of women today?