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John Schlesinger’s 1967 adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s 1874 novel Far from the Madding Crowd should be a universally recognized cinema classic. But although it received generally positive reviews and did well in England, today it is virtually unknown, even among my friends who are film buffs.

I am going to comment on the movie only, not the book, which I have not read. I am told, however, that the film is a fairly faithful adaptation. Since the film is more than 50 years old, there will be spoilers.

Far from the Madding Crowd is set in the West Country of England in the 1860s. A young shepherd, Gabriel Oak (Alan Bates at his handsomest), proposes marriage to Bathsheba Everdene (Julie Christie at her loveliest), who is apparently an orphan living with her aunt on a neighboring farm. They would make a handsome couple. Gabriel is clearly intelligent, hard-working, and responsible. He pleads his case well. But Bathsheba declines, because she does not “love” him, and to her mind, it is as simple as that. One has to wonder, though, what exactly she means by love, and why it features so prominently in her decision, since rural farm folk tend to be very pragmatic about such matches. She even urges Gabriel to think pragmatically and find a woman with some capital.

Soon Bathsheba moves away, and Gabriel tries to put her out of his mind. But when Gabriel’s flock is killed in a ghastly accident, he is forced to up stakes and seek employment on another man’s farm. In his search, he comes across a farm where a fire is sweeping through the hayricks. The farmhands are ineffectual in fighting the fire, so he takes charge and saves the farm. He then discovers that the farm belongs to Bathsheba. Her uncle, a wealthy farmer with no children of his own, has willed it to her, and she is now wealthy. She recognizes Gabriel’s value and employs him.

When Bathsheba fires the farm’s bailiff for thievery, she decides that she will manage the farm herself. She is, in short, one of those “headstrong, independent women” that every year advertisers and journalists tell us are brand new, not like the shrinking violets and clinging vines of last year. Apparently, this radical break with the past has been happening every year at least since 1874, when the novel was published.

However, unlike today’s strong, independent woman stories, Far from the Madding Crowd is not a feminist morality play. Quite the opposite. Hardy shows that Bathsheba’s independence is actually a source of great suffering for herself and the people around her. As an orphan, Bathsheba has nobody to look out for her, especially to give her guidance in matters of the heart. Her aunt did try to care for her—deflecting Gabriel’s advances, which strikes me as a bad choice. But she might have expected her niece to become wealthy and thus to be able to aim higher.

However, once Bathsheba leaves her aunt and is installed as mistress of a large and valuable farm, she has no economic necessities that might prompt her to make a pragmatic match. Moreover, she has no family or friends of her station who can tell her unpleasant truths that she needs to hear. In one scene, for instance, he basically orders a servant girl to lie to her about the history of a cad with whom she becomes infatuated, leading to disaster.

The basic message of Far from the Madding Crowd is that empowering a person who lacks wisdom and maturity is a bad thing. Indeed, empowering such people actually cuts them off from the sources of wisdom and maturity that they need. But it is not just an anti-feminist message, although in this case the primary victim is a woman. It is an anti-individualist message, for the whole thrust of individualism is to empower people to make their own decisions, regardless of wisdom and maturity.

Gabriel settles in on the farm, where he consistently demonstrates manly self-discipline, conscientiousness, and technical mastery. He is, in truth, a natural leader—an alpha male—and slowly Bathsheba gives him more powers and responsibilities. He’s a rock. He’s always there for her. And apparently there’s nothing the least bit loveable or sexy about it from her point of view.

One spring day, Bathsheba finds an unused valentine in her dead uncle’s papers. (It is odd that a childless old man had a valentine to begin with, but it makes sense it was never used.) On a whim, Bathsheba writes “Marry Me” on it and sends it to Mr. Boldwood, the even wealthier farmer next door.

Boldwood, brilliantly played by Peter “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore” Finch, is a bachelor in his late 40s who is instantly smitten with the beautiful Bathsheba and of course wants to marry her. He too would be a fine catch. A bit old, but fit and good-looking, with extensive resources and proven skills in farming and business. One imagines her old aunt would have pleaded Boldwood’s case.

But none of that seemed to occur to Bathsheba. The proposal was only a joke. She cannot marry him because she does not love him. Boldwood, however, presses her not to refuse him outright but to give him her decision at harvest time. Out of weakness, Bathsheba agrees, stringing the poor man along for months while he hopes in vain that she will become a bit more pragmatic or perhaps even grow to love him.

It was, of course, wrong for Bathsheba to send the proposal in the first place. Her old aunt would have quashed the idea immediately, and Bathsheba would probably have assented. But her only peers at the time were farmgirls who worked for her and would not have felt comfortable giving her advice even if they had known better. A mature and sensitive woman would never have trifled so callously with the old bachelor’s heart.

Bathsheba was also wrong to string Boldwood along. A more mature woman would have admitted her mistake, apologized sincerely, and flatly refused him. But then again, a more mature woman would not have made the mistake to begin with.

But Boldwood too was at fault. He was too smitten to grasp Bathsheba’s immaturity and simply would not take no for an answer. Like Gabriel, he should have simply tried to put her out of his mind.

Still, Bathsheba might well have ended up marrying Boldwood were it not for the appearance of cavalry sergeant Francis Troy, played by Terence Stamp. Although his face entirely lacks beauty or character, the fact that he is tall, dashing, and wears a uniform makes him irresistible to women. Troy, however, is a cad, with a full suite of what the manosphere calls “Dark Triad” traits—narcissism, sociopathy, and manipulativeness—which women commonly mistake for healthy alpha male traits. Troy’s lines are among the most brilliant in the script, and Stamp is superb at bringing this loathsome character to life.

Before Bathsheba came on the scene, Troy had seduced, impregnated, and then abandoned one of the farm girls, Fanny Robin. He actually agreed to marry her. But it was an impromptu affair, and when she went to the wrong church at the appointed time, his vanity was so inflamed that he broke the engagement. Fanny mysteriously disappears, and later we learn it was not just due to being jilted but also to hide the shame of being pregnant.

In any case, Troy soon had a much richer and prettier prospect: Bathsheba herself, whom he proceeded to woo with flattery, teasing, and dangerous displays of swordsmanship. The swordplay scene is utterly ridiculous, but Christie is entirely believable in communicating her character’s hopeless, irrational infatuation with Troy. She truly does “love” him. (The film credits include a folk song consultant, a sword master, and a horse master, so of course I found it irresistible.)

In one of the best scenes of the film, Boldwood tries to bribe Troy into marrying Fanny and leaving Bathsheba to him. Troy toys with Boldwood, then announces that he is too late, for he has married Bathsheba that very morning. Boldwood is crushed.

The honeymoon does not last long. Troy has apparently left the military. He is immediately accepted as lord of the manor, but he has no knowledge of farming or interest in responsibility. In a scene that beautifully illustrates his character—or lack of it—he regales the adoring farmhands with bawdy military songs while drinking them under the table. Meanwhile, a storm brews up, and when Gabriel tries to get some of the farmhands away from the party to secure the hayricks from being blown away, he is rebuffed by Troy who does not want to lose his audience. It is classic narcissist behavior. So Gabriel and Bathsheba herself struggle in the storm, soaked to the bone, to save the farm from loss while Troy’s revelries continue.

Troy also enjoys gambling over cockfights, and his narcissism makes it easy for his opponents to keep raising the stakes, lest he lose face. It isn’t his money that he is losing anyway.

Another extravagance is a large musical clock, which features a trumpeter in the same cavalry uniform as Troy wore. The design of the clock does not seem to fit with the style of the period, cleverly suggesting Troy’s essential childishness and lack of taste.

Bathsheba is willing to suffer quite a lot because she is “in love” with Troy. But things come crashing down when a very pregnant Fanny Robin shows up at the farm asking for Troy’s help, then promptly dies in childbirth. When the coffin is brought to the farm for burial, Gabriel hides the fact that it also contains a baby. But Bathsheba opens the coffin and discovers it. Troy then walks in, and his behavior is utterly galling. Suddenly, he seems to be filled with love and remorse for Fanny, kissing her dead face as Bathsheba looks on in horror, then demands that he kiss her instead. Troy leaves the farm, but erects an expensive tombstone for Fanny in the manor’s churchyard. The grave is below a gargoyle waterspout, and the first rains of fall turn it into a mud pit, brilliantly underscoring the true nature of Troy’s behavior. He is simulating love and dejection merely to spite Bathsheba. Troy then goes to the ocean, undresses, and swims out to sea.

Bathsheba is at the corn exchange, when she is told that her husband has apparently drowned, his body swept out to sea. She faints dead away, but her ever-faithful orbiter Boldwood is there to catch her. After a decent period of mourning, Boldwood begins courting her again. Because there is no body, Bathsheba must wait six years before she is free to marry again. Boldwood tells her he will wait. Again, Bathsheba wants to say no, but he again pressures her to wait until Christmas to decide.

As Christmas approaches, Boldwood prepares a lavish party, confident that he will be announcing his engagement. He seems positively giddy, and it is impossible not to feel for him. But then disaster strikes. After Bathsheba has accepted his ring, but before they can announce their engagement, Troy reappears. He has faked his death. But having heard of Bathsheba’s prospective engagement, he returns out to spite to assert his marital rights. Bathsheba is shocked and refuses to follow him. So Troy begins to manhandle her. Then we hear a shot. Troy falls dead on the stairs. Boldwood stands with a rifle.

Then we witness one of the most wrenching tragic climaxes since Sophocles. Bathsheba breaks down in tears over her beloved Frank. Boldwood looks on, in utter horror, at the abyss of irrationality into which he has now flung his life. He will hang for this, for absolutely nothing. Two men are dead, one noble, the other absolutely base, all for a woman of genuine beauty and goodness who was empowered to make catastrophic decisions that destroyed two lives and brought misery to her own.

But Bathsheba eventually recovers. She buries Frank in the same mud pit as Fanny and adds his name to the tombstone. She still has a large and prosperous farm, surrounded by people who feel genuine affection for her, including her ever-faithful and reliable Gabriel, who is there to help her run the place. But instead of wasting away in Bathsheba’s friend zone, Gabriel decides to move to America. Only then does Bathsheba truly appreciate him. For she can only really love a man who is independent of her. She rushes to stop him. Gabriel says he will stay under one condition. Then, in a gesture that will pierce even the most cynical hearts, he repeats word for word his vision of married life that she had rejected at the beginning of the film. But this time she says yes. It was the right choice. They will raise beautiful children on a happy and prosperous farm.

The movie ends with Gabriel and Bathsheba settling into married bliss. But then the eye of the camera strays over to Troy’s clock, focusing on the soldier in the tower, like a memento mori to remind us that the Troys of the world and the irrational romanticism they evoke will always threaten marriage and family life.

I can recommend Far from the Madding Crowd without reservation. Indeed, it is one of the very few movies I have ever felt was simply perfect. I would not change a thing. The plot, script, casting, performances, and direction never make a false step. The scenes of the English coast and countryside are beautifully matched by Richard Rodney Bennett’s lovely score, which captures the “ecstatic pastoralism” of Vaughan Williams. Far from the Madding Crowd should be especially appreciated by lovers of English literature, romance, and English period drama—the Merchant-Ivory, Masterpiece Theater, Downton Abbey crowd. I think my readers will appreciate it not just as a fine film but also for its essentially conservative message and its refreshing and affectionate portrayal of a healthy white rural society.

 
• Category: Arts/Letters • Tags: Movies 
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  1. dearieme says:

    I’ve not seen it since ’67 but my memory of it is that it was indeed a fine film. I took it as a warning to steer clear of a pretty girl who doesn’t have her head screwed on. In this case a very pretty girl with a very silly head.

    • Replies: @bc
  2. TheOldOne says:

    I’m a fan of ‘Tess–largely due to Ms. N. Kinski’s performance in the lead role in the Polanski film, which is one of the best films ever made IMHO–but otherwise can’t abide Hardy; if he were alive today he’s be on the SJW left; depend upon it.

    BTW, what happened to Ms. Kinski–it seems that she peaked as an actress at age 18.

  3. Matra says:

    It pops up once or twice a year on Turner Classic Movies.

  4. Priss Factor [AKA "Asagirian"] says: • Website

    I did see this and remember thinking it pretty good. But I soon forgot about it.

    Maybe it’s worth a revisit.

  5. Priss Factor [AKA "Asagirian"] says: • Website
    @TheOldOne

    BTW, what happened to Ms. Kinski–it seems that she peaked as an actress at age 18.

    She went with a Negro. But with a father like Klaus…

    • Replies: @jeff stryker
  6. anon[266] • Disclaimer says:

    A young shepherd, Gabriel Oak (Alan Bates at his handsomest), proposes marriage to Bathsheba Everdene (Julie Christie at her loveliest)

    is it me or “Gabriel Oak” looks very dark for an Englishman. Is he supposed to be Spanish?

    they did the same thing in Dr. Zhivago where they cast some arab in the role opposite the beautiful Julie Christie

  7. @anon

    Alan Bates was English.

    • Replies: @anon
    , @anon
  8. macilrae says:

    I share your enthusiasm for this film – and, seen today, it has aged very little.

    ITV did a remake in 1998 starring Paloma Baeza as Bathsheba and Jonathan Firth (Colin’s younger brother) as Troy. A very solid work which made you realize that the real Hardy characters wouldn’t have had the star quality as in the 1967 production – and made it much more obvious why, for example, Bathsheba would refuse Nigel Terry (as Boldwood); rather than the glamorous Peter Finch!

    But we do relish seeing our larger-than-life stars in such roles and we seldom stop to be critical of their selection.

    I see there was yet another movie attempt at this title in 2015 – I must give it a look.

    • Replies: @atlantis_dweller
  9. I haven’t seen this, but it was an excellent description of a movie that sounds like it has a lot of depth and a happier ending than “The Heiress,” a great film that reminds me of this story line in a way.

  10. ” . . . for the whole thrust of individualism is to empower people to make their own decisions, regardless of wisdom and maturity.”

    I am not sure what psychologists, psychiatrists or counselors you have been chatting up, but that is completely an “out of the blue” field comment. I have never heard that one should abandon wisdom or maturity in charting a course according to their view of the matter. Actually quite the opposite.

    The crux is figuring what is the “wisdom” of the many that makes sense, that which does not and that which simply does not matter.

    • Replies: @Sollipsist
  11. anon[284] • Disclaimer says:
    @Trevor Lynch

    ok

    i watch these things more closely now that most commercials feature a black male x white female combo

  12. The novel is better and more complex. The device of a naive dreamer having his fantasies deflated, getting real, as they say, is typical of all 19th-century realism. Usually, it was a female character getting real, but sometimes, as in Great Expectations, it is a naive male. You would know this if you read more.

    • Replies: @atlantis_dweller
  13. @obwandiyag

    The novel is better and more complex.

    Transition from a medium to another does bear such a result without fault no matter the authorial prowess realizing it.
    Pictures can be better and more complex but if they are born as pictures.

    An other, utterly rare chance is pictures like some of the best of Tarkovsky’s, taking inspiration from a book but with remarkable, substantial independence (no wonder Lem felt the Russian director had “betrayed” his Solaris even though the picture is as much of a masterwork as the novel).

    • Replies: @utu
    , @SunBakedSuburb
  14. @macilrae

    Art doesn’t age, and shuns pressure from power in all its forms, covertly where it can’t do so overtly.
    This picture has indeed not aged.

    • Replies: @macilrae
    , @Gracebear
  15. macilrae says:
    @atlantis_dweller

    I personally don’t buy into the “It’s art because I say so” mind-set. I recently watched a program where some experts were trying to authenticate some paintings attributed to L.S. Lowry ( a ‘modern’ artist). They said “Lowry’s work, being deceptively simple in style, is easy to copy and if these are copies they are worthless – if authenticated, they are worth over a hundred thousand pounds!”

    Now to me that says everything about today’s approach to art: “worthless” unless by him – but indistinguishable from his originals. So it’s not being judged as art at all – where even an original could be seen as worthless.

    There are quite a few ‘classic’ pictures that are today quite unwatchable as entertainment though serious movie buffs still applaud them. “The Good the Bad and the Ugly” for example; “The Wild Bunch”. Never ‘art’ in my book, actually.

    • Replies: @Dave Bowman
  16. Gracebear says:
    @atlantis_dweller

    This analysis by Trevor Lynch is one of the best, most insightful summaries of a movie that I’ve ever encountered —clearly written, accurate, and detailed. Well done!

  17. Priss Factor [AKA "Asagirian"] says: • Website

    John Simon didn’t think too much of it.

    http://movie-film-review.com/devfilm.asp?id=4210

    Simon, the last remaining member of the Old Guard that included Kael, Sarris, MacDonald, Kauffmann, etc.

    Often exasperating, but his collections Private Screenings, Movies into Film, Reverse Angle, and Something to Declare are essential reading.

    George C. Scott and Frederic March as best actors? I dunno.

    https://uncensoredsimon.blogspot.com/2019/02/great-performances.html

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/entertainment/books/1983/03/20/john-simon-the-good-the-bad-the-ugly/57a99be1-16e0-4e3d-8405-1a90f05b8375/

    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
    , @baythoven
  18. “One has to wonder, though, what exactly she means by love, and why it features so prominently in her decision, since rural farm folk tend to be very pragmatic about such matches”

    Because Bathsheba isn’t a farmer, she’s inherited the place and decided to farm it herself against all advice. She’s wilful and a thoroughly modern 1860s girl. In the book there’s an entertaining scene in which she meets all the farm staff. Gabriel Oak practically runs the place for her.

    One should never watch a film of a classic book without reading the book first – in fact I am NOT allow – otherwise one’s mind will inevitably interpret the characters in the light of what some casting agent or director was thinking rather than the book’s author. For example Natassia Kinski, beautiful though she was then, was never Tess Durbeyfield and never will be – she’s Roman Polanski’s idea of Tess, and he doesn’t understand such an English work.

    I’m not sure John Schlesinger and writer Frederic Raphael, both middle class English Jews, ‘get’ Hardy either, but the casting of Terence Stamp as Troy was pretty good – a perfect dark-triad performance to contrast with Alan Bates as nice-guy Gabriel.

    • Replies: @Autochthon
    , @Alden
  19. This is a very insightful essay that makes me want to see the movie again, or read the book. A couple of minor quibbles: Gabriel is far too stolid to be an true alpha. Women don’t say no to alphas. Gabriel is what my mother used to call “a good man.” And Terence Stamp as the cad is most certainly a very handsome man, in that boyish way that appeals to idiotic young women.

  20. Priss Factor [AKA "Asagirian"] says: • Website

    Brecht was no dummy when it came to money.

    https://usefulstooges.com/tag/john-simon/

  21. I haven’t seen the movie, but I’ve read the novel long time ago. To be sincere- I was irritated. After reading other Hardy’s major novels, I came to the conclusion that he was a sort of a pessimist sage who simultaneously deeply understood & undervalued human nature (male & female).

    For instance, while reading, I’d frequently say to myself: C’mon Gabriel, be a man & dump this ungrateful bitch. Then, her infatuation with despicable & shallow Troy I found hard to believe (later, I’ve seen that Hardy was, statistically, right).

    I cannot comment on the film, but I must admit it gave me, long time ago, food for thought. So, my summary would be:

    * from Hardy’s point of view, most humans don’t have freedom of will. He was influenced by Schopenhauer, but also by contemporary sciences (the age of Darwin). Especially his women, who may have a nobility of spirit, but are invariably swayed by emotions & when hypnotized by, in modern parlance, alpha cad- they’re helpless. There is no potentiality for inner freedom in Hardy (see, for instance, Jude the Obscure). Everything is over-determined

    * Hardy’s women are, well- brainless. Sorry, but this is my conclusion. Sure, they may show elements of rational decision now & then, but they’re basically stupid & perpetually immature. I don’t know a single Hardy’s heroine who could be compared to any great female protagonist of all literature, from the Renaissance to the 20th C.

    * his men are also weak, and even when successful- their strength lies somewhere outside of them, in nature, circumstances, environment…. They do not possess anything comparable to mutable & growing inner self.

    I haven’t read his poetry, so my dissatisfaction with Hardy applies only to his novels. But, I doubt I would have changed my opinion re his world-view he imposes on his readers. His heroes & heroines, virtually all of them zombies of Fate-Nature, are as uninspiring as possible. Hardy doubtless conceived his personages as playthings of (hateful) gods or indifferent nature. He is considered to be a tragic novelist. Just, I am not convinced. With so much determinism, there is no room for tragedy. Everything just happens & nothing, basically, can be changed.

    • Replies: @Sean
    , @Dave Bowman
  22. It’s amusing that the name of the heroine in the “Hunger Games” trilogy Katniss Everdeen is apparently a reference to Hardy’s Bathsheba Everdene character. The feminist author of this modern trilogy evidently sees Bathsheba as a feminist heroine instead of the hormone-driven bubble head she actually is.

    • Replies: @Dave Bowman
  23. Ex-Saffer says:

    Why does Troy become Frank upon receiving a bullet from Boldwood’s rifle?

    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
  24. Just an aside (bizarre enough, since I didn’t see the movie): one should not read too much of contemporary ideological discourse into women’s movement from, say, 1850 to 1920. Most “progressive” writers, activists, politicians- and women were foremost among them- struggled for female choice of higher education, some sort of financial independence & basic human rights (vote, property, divorce in disastrous marriage). But, for all of them (and Ibsen is perhaps the most famous advocate of early “feminism”), woman’s primary vocation in life revolves around a man.

    They all would have agreed on Byron’s verse:

    Man’s love is of man’s life a thing apart,
    ‘Tis woman’s whole existence.

    Sure, they would approve of female professors & probably doctors, but the ideal of a non-committed career woman without a man (female CEOs), let alone slutty single female was something utterly alien to them. The idea of “free love” was limited to a handful of anarchists/socialists & even they meant love, not just sex.

    • Agree: Hail
    • Replies: @Dave Bowman
  25. @Ex-Saffer

    “Why does Troy become Frank upon receiving a bullet from Boldwood’s rifle?”

    Because his name is Francis Troy?

    Forgot to say, in the book (can’t remember if it’s in the film) Bathsheba is informed that Troy’s real father is an earl, which gets her in all of a tizz – alpha by blood, no less. So when he shows her his father’s inscribed watch, with the motto ‘He chastens who loves well” she’s ready to be chastised – and loved well.

    • Replies: @Jonathan Mason
  26. utu says:
    @atlantis_dweller

    “is as much of a masterwork as the novel” – the film aged v. badly. I think Tarkovsky screwed it up.

  27. utu says:

    I read the book long time ago. Forgot most of it except for the sheep incident which was very powerful though I was not sure what exact symbolic or foreshadowing purpose it served. I liked this description of the movie. I will give it a try. It made me think of Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. Not so long ago I watched it for the first time and was swept by it but I hesitate to read the novel because I can’s see that Thackeray could be as good.

    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
  28. The Sixties Far from the Madding Crowd was a flop here in America, but was well-received in the UK.

    There was an adaptation in 2015 by Thomas Vinterberg, with Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene. I think I liked the way she played the role more than the way Julie Christie did, back in 1967. But the male actors in the new movie are nowhere nearly as memorable as Terence Stamp and Alan Bates were, in the older movie.

    • Replies: @Matra
  29. Sean says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Everything is over-determined

    Hardy’s characters’ lives are not under their control. I do not know about you but over time I think the thoughtful person tends to see grand moral theories explaining what everyone should do in a given situation as ironic, and increasingly thinks that the things that happened mattered, but one’s lifes could not have been very different.

    Especially his women, who may have a nobility of spirit, but are invariably swayed by emotions & when hypnotized by, in modern parlance, alpha cad- they’re helpless.

    Heiresses do not have to go for providers and so are overwhelmingly attracted to thuggish serial seducers (Jeremy Meeks, Porfirio Rubirosa) the Sexy son hypothesis has bearing on it.

    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12110-003-1008-yThe proper and the dark (or Byronic or Romantic) The dark hero occurs most prominently in the … most popular writers of the British Romantic period. The dark hero is typically a violent, rebellious outlaw. ]…] Dark heroes show evidence of dominance traits, such as a piercing and aggressive gaze, unsmiling countenance, freedom and ease of bodily movements, and a threatening self-confidence.[…] Finally, dark heroes have a tendency to libertinage, rarely marry, and are almost always unhappy when they do. … the marriage is a failure because it is incompatible with his nature.

    The standard male lead in the narratives of this period was what Alexander Welsh calls the “proper hero” … the proper hero is “the good man” caught in a world of “egotistical fanaticisms” (1980:85). In many respects, however, the proper hero is strikingly different from the traditional hero: he is in general a weak and passive character who does not commit heroic actions in the course of the narrative

    Going by Rubirosa and Meeks, the real world dark hero in the modern world has appreciable sub Saharan African ancestry. Indeed the female farming agriculture of sub Saharan Africa, whereby women are largely independent of male providers isa recipe for cads monopolising reproductive success.

    [Hardy’s] … men are also weak, and even when successful- their strength lies somewhere outside of them, in nature, circumstances, environment…. They do not possess anything comparable to mutable & growing inner self.

    Men who were a one off biodegradable vehicle for DNA trying to project itself into the future would have fixed set of qualities and lead with their strengths (proper or dark).

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  30. liamjq says:
    @TheOldOne

    she was got banged and therefore butt-f^^ked by that little rat Polanski when she was only 14 which couldn’t have aided her psychic development much

    • Replies: @jeff stryker
  31. Anon654 says:
    @TheOldOne

    The Kinski family itself is an interesting study. Klaus’ memoir “All I Need Is Love” (first published as “Kinski Uncut”) is the most bizarre, sordid, narcissistic and entertaining autobiography ever written. Think of the Marquis de Sade and Buster Keaton operating in the same body.

    Good article.

    • Replies: @jeff stryker
  32. @TheOldOne

    if he were alive today he’s be on the SJW left; depend upon it.

    Regrettably, I would not personally depend on any such thing – for as a university English Literature graduate who adored and heavily researched the life and work of Thomas Hardy, I can assure you that you are very much mistaken. If you were familiar with the main sweep of his major works – let alone the minutiae of the details of his stories which underscore his main concerns – you would be aware that he loved deeply the close, safe, reliable structures of traditional rural English family and community life. Therefore it is obviously correct to say that he would without any doubt have been among the very strongest and most harsh, unrelenting, violently angry (and probably suicidally-depressive) critics of the wholesale destruction of this nation’s history, and it’s civilised, close-knit families and communities, by the mass, orchestrated and politically murderous invasion of the African and Islamic worlds.

    In my view, he would have been his own time’s Enoch Powell – but for sure, as a hugely-popular and much-loved novelist and poet rather than a slippery, untrustworthy politician, I am sure he would also have become very much more popular and heavily-supported as a wise elder and leader of men – just as would his much-loved urban contemporary Dickens, whose Dante-esque visions of atomised, starving, industrialised urban hell showed his own grasp of the gulf between the gentle, peaceful once-rural folk of traditional England and the corrupted, soulless “businessmen” and rootless international cosmopolitan wanderers who would eventually corrode and undermine their historic nation.

    • Replies: @republic
  33. Jake says:
    @TheOldOne

    You do not understand Hardy. In fact, you have him very much backwards. He is the lone major late Victorian novelist to grasp that England long had been something very different from the stereotype of common sense middle class life that especially Americans swallowed whole hog.

    Hardy was a rather fierce agnostic, but not as a revolutionary. He understood that virtually all English intellectuals by the ascent of the Victorian age were agnostic or atheist. His poetry perhaps makes more clear than even his fiction that Hardy knew that England, far more than even Prussia, was responsible for ‘Modernism,’ and that Modernism steered the Masses to ape the worst of their ‘betters,’ which Hardy knew to be very bad for real folks.

    Oscar Wilde has a similar understanding, but obviously best expressed it with stage comedies.

    Hardy bemoans what English life in even the most backwater farming hamlets had become as a result of the deepening spiritual decay unto death that he sensed was an inescapable part of English imperialism and Modern English culture. And he knew that that imperialism, which kept the super rich as they were, not only did not economically help the English poor and the English lower middle class, but it actually made things worse for them.

    Hardy’s vision was a tragic conservative one.

  34. Well?
    Now I am ashamed of myself.
    I did see the movie I did find it banal. The scene where Gabriel lost everything I did find unrealistic and out of this world. That really did turn me off. So now I do not even know if I did watch it until the end.
    But now when I do see in this article the deep meaning of the story I do have an urge to see it again.

  35. @macilrae

    I was interested in what you said – until the final two sentences. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is, in the estimation of just about everyone who knows anything at all about film – myself certainly included – the greatest Western ever made. Even more importantly, as a technical masterpiece in a hundred different ways, it was also a stage-changing landmark in the history of world cinema. Do a little reading.

    • Replies: @macilrae
  36. @Bardon Kaldian

    Hardy doubtless conceived his personages as playthings of (hateful) gods or indifferent nature

    Correct.

    There is, for a certainty, very much more to a profoundly-gifted and deeply-visioned artistic genius like Hardy – but, in a nutshell, that is precisely and exactly how he came eventually to envisage the entirety of doomed, unhappy, and almost suicidally-pointless human experience.

    The reasons are very obvious from his own life experience – if you wish to research them. But whether or not you agree with his vision of human life is completely irrelevant.

  37. @Jus' Sayin'...

    hormone-driven bubble head

    Glorious. I’m stealing this, for so many females I know and have known.

  38. @Bardon Kaldian

    The idea of “free love” was limited to a handful of anarchists/socialists & even they meant love, not just sex.

    The rest of your comment was spot-on – until this final sentence !

    Let’s try that again:

    In the beginning, the idea of “free love” was limited to a handful of cultural-Marxist, sexually-degenerate, communist/anarchist Jews – and by “love” they meant only ever, and always, White-woman SEX.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  39. bc says:
    @dearieme

    Yes, a fine film. I saw it in ’68 with my first love, who was probably more like Bathsheba than I recognized–I should have taken the lesson you drew from the film. I thought at the time that the movie would become a classic. Wonder why it hasn’t. Maybe the Bates character who gets the girl eventually was not enough of an anti-hero in the mold of Steve McQueen, then in his prime. (I saw The Sand Pebbles at about the same time in the same place, another great film).

    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
  40. a beautiful work, a classic – much better than the remake
    – also, deep truths, eerily similar to the kind of crass ideology pushed by the PUA community

    – women love bad boys, whoever gives them the tingles rules; logic and reason always defeated by their feelings, in the moment
    – a guy with money is a good substitute
    – being a decent sort of guy, solid, looking for a good wife, a life partner, is to identify yourself as one of life’s losers, a “beta”, an “orbiter” – you may be allowed to buy the car once the odometer has lapped, the tyres bald, the exhaust smoking

    bathsheba everdene causes mayhem, then skips off into the sunset, “I did nothing wrong”, rationalising away

    in a more modern update, bathsheba now runs a cat sanctuary and is trying IVF
    – she is 52, single, still on tinder, and “will settle down, one day”
    – gabriel oak is whacking off to milf porn

    • Replies: @Alden
    , @Alden
  41. @Sean

    Too many free associations, it would be impossible to address most of them. So, I’ll try to stick to the point.

    Although some modern neuroscience experiments (most prominently Libet experiment, see more about neuroscience and free will) point in other direction, the vast majority of human experience & thought in past 2500 years points to freedom of man; while man’s impulses may form a complex field of conflicting vectors, nevertheless we think of human being as possessing free moral, emotional & mental self.

    It is true that across time our notions of freedom have changed, but no one, except marginal extremists, would think that Plato’s Socrates was just a zombie & had not possessed, or being centered around his subjective self who decided what to do, to remain in prison or to escape. Over time, this intransigent subjectivity only increased, which can be seen in literature from Shakespeare to Dostoevsky and Proust. After all, our legal systems depend on it. We can take all dominant legal practices, philosophies, sciences, literatures, … & see that there is no serious denial of free human agency, volition & responsibility. We have, unlike animals, freedom to commit suicide (perhaps not too an optimistic example…) for whichever reasons. Animals don’t, because they are one with life & do not possess self-awareness.

    As for Hardy, he was a committed determinist (although with some qualifications). His major novels do not portray human beings as is the case in most novels from 18th to 20th C. Hardy was not a realist (more or less) author like Turgenev, Zola, Henry James… His characters are convincing, but are more or less depicted as embodied forces of nature & not as “ordinary” people. Hardy imposes on his readers his metaphysics, which was a strange combination of Schopenhauer, quasi-Pagan celebration of instinctive life & his belief in futility of human endeavor. In Hardy’s cosmos, unseen forces of nature conspire against his heroes & heroines.

    So, it is wrong to read Hardy in the realist key. His view of man was mythic & primitive; his characters do not possess inner life as in most realist fiction. It is not to say that Hardy was dumb or bonkers: just, his “heroes” are as “real” as is Kafka’s Josef K. in “The Trial”. Convincing yes, realistic- no.

    In some aspects Hardy’s successor was D.H. Lawrence, but they also differ in other significant points ….

  42. Thank you for this. It has taught me that it’s quite normal for a man to feel jealous, angry and even suicidal when it comes to courting women. I’m not so weird or creepy or obsessed with women after all, as modern day society would have you believe.

  43. macilrae says:
    @Dave Bowman

    “…. the greatest Western ever made”

    I know – it’s often put forth as you say and I admit I’m expressing a personal view but, with brilliant contenders such as “Shane” and even the latest “True Grit”, I’m completely baffled. Then again, if you look at “The Favourite” which won so many Oscars this season, there is another bewilderment (see the violently contrasting opinions on IMDB) – I personally found it next to unwatchable too with its abominable screenplay, direction and mischaracterizations – playing to fashion with plenty of sex and effing.

    What can we do but disagree?

  44. @Dave Bowman

    “Free love” has nothing to do with whites, Jews, whatever…. Actually, it was a concept developed & sometimes practiced by cultist leftists from 18th C on. It boils down to a few questions: what women want? What about freedom & responsibility? What, essentially, is “human nature” & how to achieve human fulfillment ?

    As usual, historia magistra vitae est.
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2006/10/30/the-revolutionist

    Great 19th C Russian writer, publicist, thinker…Alexander Herzen & his family tragedy illustrate intermittencies of human heart & will. His main work, autobiography “My Past and Thoughts” is equal in worth to Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” (although, of course, in a different genre).

    He was, in contemporary simplistic manosphere lingo, hyper-alpha: an aristocrat; hugely influential Russian emigre who was seen at his height as the most powerful force for good in Russian society; the man who knew everyone worth knowing; a man who married the love of his life (socially very inferior) & fathered on her a few children they both loved. Natalie, his wife, adored him.

    Then, she cheated on him with a minor German poet & generally a despicable human being, Georg Herwegh.

    Why? Herwegh was totally inferior; there were no fissures in Herzen’s marriage, as far as we know. So- why? No explanation. It just happened, she was temporarily infatuated with this …”creature”. After everything fell apart, Natalie died of remorse.

    No Cultural Marxism; no brainwashing; no media influence; no sexual or financial troubles; no emotional distancing; no nothing.

    “Though he believe it, no man is strong”.

  45. @TheOldOne

    I guess others have weighed in against this comment already, but it does illustrate the ‘cultural divide’ on this site. For some here it seems anyone who is atheist and materialist (like Hardy) is somehow lumped in with SJWs and Marxists. Guess this is the peculiarity of American (as opposed to European) conservatism, with its fatal connection to a (mostly faked) backwoods individualistic machismo that is somehow also ‘Christian’ in the USA.
    In any case Hardy was obviously no SJW – he was a pessimist , a localist, and an advocate (as this article makes clear) of the unintended consequences of abstract compassion. And yes, he ‘exposed’ the hypocrisies of Victorian conceptions of sexual virtue, but given everything I know about Hardy he would be closer to James Damore than Judith Butler on sexual equality issues today, because he accepted the warp and woof of reality as a limit to abstract equality or justice.

  46. The quality of many, way too many comments here is…..abominable. For God’s sake, read something.

    [MORE]

    John Holloway: The Victorian Sage

    Thomas Pite: Thomas Hardy

    Erich Auerbach: Mimesis

    Richard Precht: Who am I?

    Robert Kane: A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will

    Jan Hendrick Van Den Berg: Changing Nature of Man: Introduction to a Historical Psychology (English and Dutch Edition)

    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
  47. @atlantis_dweller

    Solaris (1972) is a film that continues to linger in my memory. I still need to get around to reading the novel.

  48. @Priss Factor

    That hissing Teuton demon was cool…

  49. @liamjq

    Mad Klaus had been having sex with her for years by then.

  50. @Priss Factor

    George C. Scott was more of a presence than chameleon actor. In the right role, with his combination of skills and indigenous rage, he was quite effective.

  51. Matra says:
    @PiltdownMan

    I haven’t seen the 2015 adaptation but the 1990s TV movie version with Nathaniel Parker as Gabriel Oak was better than the original. I haven’t read the book so I don’t know why Oak was more central to the story than in the 1967 version. Maybe the star status of Christie and the more exciting Troy character.

  52. @Anon654

    The women in that autobiography claim that they in fact rebuffed Kinski’s advances and he claimed to have bedded them merely to cause them shame.

  53. @utu

    Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (1975), with its leisurely pace and masterful atmosphere, is a visit to mid-1700s Europe. Viewers expecting a typical, business like three-act movie will be disappointed.

    • Replies: @macilrae
    , @jeff stryker
  54. Julie Christie, Alan Bates…. it all now seems as from another galaxy. And Hardy.

    What contemporary Mayor of London could have in common with Bates, Finch…let alone- Hardy?

    Sure, things change, but there is a continuity, however tenuous, between current Russian, Pole or Swiss as depicted in their 19th C fictions.

    Not so in contemporary England.

    • Replies: @Dave Bowman
  55. @bc

    The Sand Pebbles (1966) is a great film. Its depiction of the U.S. in the 1920s as a nascent empire expanding its reach into the Pacific, combined with that downbeat ending that echoed our contemporaneous involvement in Vietnam, is memorable. Plus Steve McQueen.

  56. @SunBakedSuburb

    “indigenous [sic] rage”? Can’t find any explanation by Googling. Tell us.

    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
  57. I know it’s the weekend, and I don’t wanna be “that guy,” but I’m trying to figure out the point of a review of a 52-year-old movie here at Unz. Sort of incongruous and out of the blue, considering the sheer tonnage of more contemporary and relevant contributions all over today’s Internet that will languish in obscurity because Ron passed them over in lieu of this.

    Can we look forward to restaurant reviews and the feminist dissection of “Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.” next Saturday?

    • Replies: @Alden
  58. macilrae says:
    @SunBakedSuburb

    Very under-rated – a marvelous yarn of a film.

  59. @SunBakedSuburb

    Barry Lyndon sort of reflected Ryan’s life. It is odd when life imitates art. His kids met terrible ends, he cuckolded Lee Majors only to abuse Farrah…

    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
  60. I saw the new version of this with Carey Mulligan (2015). It was really good, but I think I’d like to see the original which I didn’t know was out there.

    Bathsheba represents a common female type that many men speak about these days regarding hypergamy, with negative connotations, although I don’t know why. Of course, anyone with limited means will seek out the best resource provider if they are unable to do that for themselves.

    Today, even though many women can support themselves, they should still seek out a male that is ambitious towards work. I’ve known women who get hooked up with guys who have absolutely no ambition and they become a huge weight around a woman’s neck.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  61. AaronB says:

    In my experience, what women like are men who are not mere practical reasoning machines, but connected to their spiritual, aesthetic, and emotional sides.

    In the modern West, perhaps beginning in the late 19th century, dominant mainstream culture tended to suppress and repress the emotional and aesthetic side of man and elevate reason and practicality as the only side of life worth developing.

    In Nietzschean terms, Western life become solely and completely Apolonian, and suppressed its Dionysian side.

    This was the period when male attire became drab and boring – black suit, white shirt, tie – and finally broke with its incredibly colorful past. Even 18th century male attire was quite colorful and imaginative.

    But the new period of sober practicality and technical mastery demanded a new look that reflected its suppression of the aesthetic and imaginative side of man.

    Now quite predictably, the socially sanctioned man of this new era, the good, responsible, mainstream man, was a crippled and stunted being, however well intentioned and benevolent, and quite unappealing to women (or even themselves).

    In such a society, the only men left who were still connected to the aesthetic and emotional side were “bad”. Its at this point that you begin to see Victorian novels featuring “dark triad” men as sexually appealing. While such men are sub-par from a female point of view, and certainly not even close to the acme of male attractiveness in a healthy and well ordered society, they were literally the only men left who had any connection to the suppressed side of life in a West that had become tragically one-sided.

    Even as recently as Jane Austen, the ideal man was far more feminine and less harshly masculine that was was beginning to become popular in the Anglo-Saxon world (for instance, a muscular frame and square face was considered unattractive in Austen’s time), and even today outside the Anglo-Saxon world an attractive man is far more feminine than inside it. This is obvious in many continental European countries.

    Friends of mine who live and date in Asia (real Asia), tell me that to be successful one must be careful to tone down ones masculinity, be thin and avoid musculaturity, have an interest in fashion, and in general look “soft” and project a on air of friendliness and benevolence.

    The “dark triad” appeal is nothing more than a feature of unique developments in the modern Anglo-Saxon world, and a survey of other historical eras and cultures shows a more complete picture.

    Unfortunately, the modern Anglo-Saxon world is afflicted by a case of acute provincialism – both historically and geographically – that comes from its power and prominence, making it take its own local peculiarities as patterns for everyone, everywhere.

    Anyone who has traveled or read widely knows better.

  62. anon[199] • Disclaimer says:
    @Trevor Lynch

    he seems to have very dark or black eyes

    do Englishmen have black eyes?

  63. baythoven says:
    @Priss Factor

    From his review:

    “Julie Christie, Terence Stamp, and Alan Bates emerge merely as strayed revellers from a resplendent costume party: their very countenances modern and out of place.”

    The most jolting anachronism for me was Julie Christie’s lips, always coated with a shiny, silvery lipstick. A very 60’s – 70’s thing.

    • Replies: @Alden
    , @Dave Bowman
  64. @EliteCommInc.

    That take on individualism struck me as odd too. It actually reminded me of communist propaganda, or a line of dialogue from 1984.

    • Replies: @EliteCommInc.
  65. @Wizard of Oz

    Besides his marriage to Trish Van Devere, I know zip about George C. Scott’s private life. But it always struck me, watching his performances in various films, that there was something seething inside the man. Even in quieter, more contemplative performances he seemed to be containing a volcanic explosion. And when he did explode on screen it was serious business. This is all subjective of course; I’m no film cricket. By the way, Scott directed two films, one of them was Rage (1972).

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  66. Priss Factor [AKA "Asagirian"] says: • Website

    AMERICAN ANIMALS and CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

    Crime in the Art World and Literary World.

    Interesting.

    But one thing… the real-life Lee Israel is Jewish as her name suggests BUT the character is played by someone who is Catholic Irish and looks it.

    • Replies: @EliteCommInc.
  67. @jeff stryker

    I’m one of those 70s film nuts, and the 70s was the zenith of Ryan O’Neal’s stardom. But I could never connect with the dude, or any of his films other than Barry Lyndon (1975). And yeah, O’Neal was/is a disaster of a human being. Kubrick was one of those three-dimensional chess guys that some claim Trump to be, and I think he casted O’Neal in the title role because of O’Neal’s innate vapidity.

    • Replies: @jeff stryker
    , @Dave Bowman
  68. Priss Factor [AKA "Asagirian"] says: • Website

    There was always a side of Anglo culture that was priggish, judgmental, and censorious. The upper classes maintained power and privilege for a long time with something other than unfettered freedom. They kept order by browbeating and, if necessary, literally beating people down. British could be haughty, snotty, and even puritanical.

    And yet, Anglos developed a culture of liberty by sharpening wits and cultivating a sense of irony(that led to one of the most sophisticated kind of humor). It allowed for a genteel and civilized form of irreverence, skepticism, and defiance. Wit could be cruel indeed but not anarchic.

    So, there was balance between propriety and vulgarity. Also, the primacy of wit had a socially democratizing effect. While it could be used by social superior against social inferior, it could also be used inferior against superior. After all, social standing didn’t guarantee wit. A rich and educated person could be dim-witted, a poor and ignorant person could be sharp in wit.
    Also, wit allowed for maintenance of order and decorum even as people locked horns. A kind of Queensberry rules applied where, regardless of win or loss, people conducted themselves as ladies and gentlemen. So, despite all the nastiness, people could still carry on as if everything was in order.

    So, irony was crucial for British freedom because much of the culture was about conformism, order, and obedience. A society of order without the element of wit was like feudal Japan where the slightest ‘face crime’ could lead to head being chopped off by a disgruntled samurai.

    Current UK has no freedom because irony has been banished. So, the traditional British modes of conformism, priggishness, & order aren’t challenged and pricked by the sharp needle of wit. Instead, it’s like a combination of neo-Cromwellism and neo-Victorianism.

    But, if at least puritanism of the past preserved Britain, today’s PC priggishness is all about welcoming in tons of blacks and Muslims who, ironically enough, have no respect for British culture of order or wit and just want to hump white women and turn British towns into Jungle towns or Third World cousin-marriage centers.
    Ironically, the British obsession with Order is now being used to turn Britain into a land of Disorder(but how can anyone be expected to notice this irony in a world where irony has been banished?)
    Imagine a bunch of black savages and Muslim thugs using a ramming rod to break down the door of a house full of white Britons. A white Briton inside the house becomes angry and curses out the blacks and Muslims causing all the commotion, but another white Briton, a hoity-toity PC prig, admonishes the angry white Briton for the uncouth and vulgar impropriety of ‘racism’. He wants to punch the hoity-toiter, but as he’s been raised with British norms of civility, he decides to resort to wit to mock the hoity-toity snotty jerk, but then, he is informed that irony is no longer allowed in the house. Irony Curtain has descended on the house.
    So, eventually the blacks and browns smash down the door and go about messing up the house, but the hoity-toity PC Briton’s idea of maintaining Order is by continuing to browbeat the angry white Briton into not being ‘racist’ and ‘irreverent’. He is so fixated on maintaining Order by suppressing the angry and ‘unruly’ white Briton that he becomes utterly blind to the far greater disorder being caused by blacks and browns. In time, he realizes the house is falling apart but, being unwilling to fess up to his delusions and terrified that the mob will tear him limb from limb if he confesses the truth, he cravenly doubles down on berating the angry white Briton who, at this point, has lost all hope of restoring the house. It’s so much like the colonel in BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI. He’s so obsessed about the British prisoners proving their mettle as honorable and hardworking soldiers that he becomes blind to the fact that he’s aiding in the Japanese war effort.

    Incidentally, there is a theory that says Brits were more intelligent in the past because the aristocracy had more children. But is this true? After all, aristocrats were chosen by meritocracy but by blood. So, if aristocrats had dumb children and if those dumb children had MORE kids, it wouldn’t have boosted IQ.
    Among Jews, those who proved themselves in business and Talmudic studies had more children.
    In contrast, all it took to be a member of the aristocracy was to be born to aristocratic parents. Also, aristocrats were often married not on the basis of intelligence or talent by political calculation: Children of noblemen married to other children of noblemen. This didn’t guarantee higher IQ because noblemen were not chosen by merit in the first place. The bourgeoisie had to rise to wealth and power by success in business. Noblemen merely needed to inherit the title. And there are so many cases of dumb noblefolks in UK, Spain, Italy, Germany, and etc. Just look at the British royal family and other noble-creatures. They strike me as a bunch of idiots.

    • Replies: @EliteCommInc.
  69. @Priss Factor

    I don’t much care for the lifestyle choices of the individuals in this film. But it was a solid film with a straight up story. It’s rare that a film played straight (no pun intended) could have been as effective as it for me. It was interesting, though, I thought it was a mistake to change the title.

    • Replies: @Dave Bowman
  70. @Sollipsist

    Laughing. I saw an interesting movie last night about individualism.

    “Twelve” Really neat film, unusual. The story is about a twelve year old little league baseball player.

    But the individualism turn is on his father — just neat deep and powerful questions about choices and risk – really neat film and goes to the very comments the author of the article made regarding individualism.

    I should say more, but I was in a rather childish state this morning when all of my row time data disappeared making it appear that it took me over four hours to ride 5Km — growl.

    appreciate your observation

  71. @Priss Factor

    I won’t comment on the specifics here.

    Suffice it to say, probably wasn’t a good idea for the Brits to deny what they promised their colonial subjects or citizens rather. As it turned out that would have alleviated a lot of the current issues, if said issues exists as you suggest. Though I suspect there is more hyperbole than substance to make a point.

    I say that even as someone who comprehends the value of Monarchy and it contribution to society at large.

    And by golly gee wow,

    God save the Queen.

  72. @anon

    The dark-skinned phenotype is fairly common in the British Isles and I haven’t seen a conclusive explanation as to where it comes from. Some other people that come to mind are Catherine Zeta Jones, John Rhys Davies, and Tom Jones. More often than not they tend to have Welsh ancestry. My guess is that this look comes from the oldest group to inhabit the the British Isles,, before the Aryan invasions.

  73. AaronB says:
    @Hapalong Cassidy

    I suspect it comes from the Romans.

    In his novel The Way We Live Now, Anthony Trollope says a dark complexion is associated with nobility and lends an air of distinction, and his nobleman character is dark.

    Welsh were considered lower class in Britain, and its known the Celts were very blond (although Celts were Aryan, so maybe you were referring to pre-Celtic Welsh elements)

    • Replies: @jeff stryker
  74. @YetAnotherAnon

    Your remarks merit a McBraggian “Quite.”

  75. @anon

    Welsh and cornish are genetically very close to spanish and basque. Hence the similarity.

  76. Alden says:
    @TheOldOne

    It was a good movie. I don’t like Hardy or the Brontes. All that gloom doom poverty and bad luck is just too, too delressing. Most Hardy characters lead unhappy lives and die miserably.

    The authentic details of farming, housekeeping machinery and equipment are very interesting though

    Did any Hardy characters marry the right person and have a halfway happy prosperous life?

    FFTMC is a lot like another morbid novel; Poetrait of a Lady. They’re both about a woman who doesn’t have to marry for money or a home and is attractive enough to have her pick iof 3 men. Yet she chose the wrong man and is unhappy like most of the James and Hardy characters.

    Life is hard enough. Who wants to read about unhappy people.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  77. republic says:
    @Dave Bowman

    Re, Powell, and his Rivers of Blood speech given 51 years ago:

    The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils. In seeking to do so, it encounters obstacles which are deeply rooted in human nature.

    • Replies: @Dave Bowman
  78. Thomas Hardy gave us a penetrating look at the brutal contingency of rural life, just in time before it vanished forever.

  79. ‘…The basic message of Far from the Madding Crowd is that empowering a person who lacks wisdom and maturity is a bad thing…’

    My impression is that the basic message of Far from the Madding Crowd is the same as the basic message of all Thomas Hardy novels; people display an incredible ability to make themselves, each other, and all those around them miserable, and then, they die.

    • Replies: @Alden
  80. Writer33 says:

    I think the ending is another example of Hardyesque irony, i.e. here sits an unhappy woman, presumably trapped for the rest of her life in a deadly marriage – for her decision to marry Gabriel is as irrational as was her marriage to Troy: she simply felt she must marry. The clock – emblematic of her dream of romance – will now mark the endless hours of boredom and frustration that lie ahead of her.

    There seems an unconscious cruelty in Gabriel’s remark at the end of the film, to the effect that they will sit facing each other always, and that that is how things should be. Finally, it must be noted that Bathsheba – at the very most – likes Gabriel, but does not love him. Here is irony indeed!

  81. Alden says:
    @Colin Wright

    Even worse than the life is miserable and then you die message is the overpowering doom than hangs over everyone.

    Gabriel’s tragedy before he went to work for Bathsheba really made an impression on me when I read the book.

    He didn’t seem to have any family; probably a bound boy sent out to work as a child. He learned a profitable trade, acquired a few ewes then one had a little ram and Gabriel bred up a sizable flock. He works so hard, never goes drinking, saves all his money to buy more good stock is so careful and skillful.

    And then boom, the stupid dog drives the entire flock off the only cliff in the midlands. A few days later he’s back at the day labor plaza with the rest of the losers.

    Then Fanny goes to the wrong church and Frank gets all outraged. Well, most people would get all outraged.

    What’s realistic about Hardy is that people really don’t have that much choice. You can apply for any job, but it’s not your decision if you get the job.
    Ask anyone you want to marry you but it’s their decision to marry you, not yours.

    This you can be anything you want to be is a myth.

    One thing about Frank. I doubt very much Bathsheba was enticed by the rumor Frank was the son of an Earl. If he was, the Earl did nothing for Frank.

  82. Alden says:
    @Writer33

    A lot of women married the foreman or one of their father’s best employees. A lot of men married the head dairy maid

    Such is life.

  83. Alden says:
    @baythoven

    Better than if the movie were made in the early 5os with bright red lipstick.

  84. @SunBakedSuburb

    So maybe “endogenous”?

    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
  85. Alden says:
    @Nancy Pelosi's Latina Maid

    It’s nice to talk about something other than politics and the decline of America and status of White people in America.

    • Agree: Sick of Orcs
  86. Priss Factor [AKA "Asagirian"] says: • Website
    @freedom-cat

    I saw the new version of this with Carey Mulligan (2015). It was really good, but I think I’d like to see the original which I didn’t know was out there.

    Mulligan. I don’t see the appeal. She looks like Fatty Arbuckle in drag.

  87. Alden says:
    @NigelDibnah

    Madding Crowd has nothing in common with modern life. Bathsheba is a wealthy landowner, not some employee who could lose her job anytime and has to obey all sorts of supervisors and sit through HR lectures about diversity and the mission. She’s not dependent on an employer for salary and raises. She is dependent on weather and markets, but she can use brains and common sense and will have a lot more control over her finances than any paycheck dependent bourgeois employee ever will.

    Farmers are never, ever never sentimental about animals. Farm cats have a job, kill the mice and if possible rats weasels and other critters who eat the grain eggs and even chicks. Farmers aren’t cat ladies and they will shoot their dogs if the dogs cause problems with their or neighbors animals.

    It’s a whole nother world.

  88. Clyde says:
    @Priss Factor

    Two good links that I read every word of. Thanks for the laughs. Not that I am any better than them.

  89. @SunBakedSuburb

    I never bought O’Neil in LOVE STORY or CHASING THE MOON.

    He seemed like the tough little Irish fighter that he was in real life and was most believable as LYNDON or THE DRIVER of the ex-con in TOUGH GUYS DON’T DANCE, a scrubbed-up Mickey Rourke without the hangover.

    Like McDowell or the Lolita girl, O’Neal seemed to be put on earth simply to have played that role. Similar to the Ermey as the DI in FULL METAL JACKET.

    Kubick had a superb eye for casting. Whatever happened to Shelly Duvall? But she was very good in the SHINING.

  90. @Hapalong Cassidy

    HAPALONG

    The blonde Malcolm McDowell or Charlie Hunnan looks we associate with Englishman were not present until AFTER the Romans left and entered via a small number of Jutland and Saxony seafarers from Denmark and Germany.

    Welsh apparently possess a phenotype most similar to Basque as do the Irish.

    Romans intermarried with Welsh to a much a greater degree than in England or Scotland and the ancient Italian in Welsh genes tends to be greater.

    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
  91. @AaronB

    AARON

    Genetic testing of high-caste Indians indicates Slavic DNA and Aryans probably originated around the Black Sea or Caspian Sea or possibly even the Ukraine. These Slavs entered Indian from Northern Iran and were referred to by Dravidian erroneously as from the land of Arya (Iran) but did not originate there.

    Welsh may indeed have more Roman admixture than English or Scots. But their DNA is nearest to Basque.

    You have to remember the blonde lanky English type we associate with Malcolm McDowell or Charlie Hunnan was derived from Jutland and Saxony in Denmark and Northeast Germany. These people arrived AFTER the Romans legions left Great Britain.

    The dark-haired aristocracy are the Frogs who arrived from Normandy in 1066.

    • Replies: @Alden
  92. @Alden

    Pick Up Artist. A man who specializes in one night stands.

  93. @Alden

    Life is hard enough. Who wants to read about unhappy people.

    Now, this takes the cake as the funniest comment of all.

  94. AaronB says:

    @Jeff Stryker

    The Normans who invaded England were Scandinavian, perhaps mixed with Franks, who were a blond Germanic people, and Celts, a blond people as well. The dark complexioned Frenchmen were from the South, and they weren’t really part of a ‘France’ that had not yet been created yet and were not present in the North in any large numbers till centuries later.

    As for the blond lanky English type, there is a famous passage where English prisoners are paraded in Rome and described as blond, pale, and angelic looking. I believe but am not entirely certain this was before the Romans left Britain in 410.

    In any event, DNA tests reveal that the population of Britain has had very little genetic influx from any of it’s invaders and is actually largely the same as at the time of the Roman invasion.

    At the end of the day, the dark complexioned English type – which is not just a matter of coloring but also of lacking typically gracile Nordic features, like say Clive Owen – may originate from pre-Roman elements. Who is to say some band of adventurous Phoenicians or Greeks or Etruscans did not wash up in England’s shores?

  95. @anon

    Julie was born in India.. looks damned white… i dont see the point. I hate brown and blacks BTW regardless where they are from. They are the shit stains of humanity.

    • Replies: @anon
  96. Anon[327] • Disclaimer says:

    In one scene, for instance, he basically orders a servant girl to lie to her about the history of a cad with whom she becomes infatuated, leading to disaster.

    He or she?

  97. @Wizard of Oz

    Yes, “endogenous” instead of “indigenous [sic]”. Much better. Gracias.

  98. Druid says:
    @anon

    That “some Arab” was Omar Sharif, who was a Christian Egyptian who nominally converted to Islam for the advancement of his career in Egypt

    • Replies: @anon
  99. anon[593] • Disclaimer says:
    @Bruce County

    Julie was born in India.. looks damned white… i dont see the point.

    the point is the jews in the movies were pulling this stuff back then with casting men of darker features than typical of the populations they were supposed to represent and matching them with the fair complected white women. halfway to the jews’ dreams of white women miscegenating

    • Replies: @Dave Bowman
    , @republic
  100. anon[593] • Disclaimer says:
    @Druid

    who cares?

  101. @Writer33

    I disagree completely – because you are both over-analysing, and much worse – the commonest error for most people – re-interpreting the customs, way of life and received wisdom of the past, in the light of our vastly-different, unrecognisable modern world.

    For all Victorians – and certainly for Hardy who understood only too well the power of social convention – once the woman has found her husband – for good or bad – it’s all over, in Victorian small-town England. She WILL bear children, grow older in peaceful, boring co-existence with a quite “ordinary” man – and mostly be deliriously emotionally happy in the doing of it !! Simply because that is (was) the whole purpose of life for a woman – at that time.

    “The past is a foreign country – they do things differently there” – L. P. Hartley

    • Replies: @Alden
  102. @anon

    the jews in the movies were pulling this stuff back then

    Absolutely spot-on.

    And all that’s really changed since then is that, instead of the story ending at the altar – as it did in Hardy’s day – now we see everything but full penetration, followed by “marital boredom” , emotional unhappiness, cheating, adultery, heartbreak, emotional chaos, outraged communities, broken families, social breakdown – and of course the man – or woman – responsible losing no time in screwing ten others, mostly without even the formality of a declared relationship.

    Plus the orphaned kids, suicidal ex-partners, lost lives, atomised societies and a nation headed towards disaster – everything the Jew cultural marxists have always wanted and yearned for, for the highly-intelligent, stable, productive, happy, balanced, normal, CHRISTIAN White societies they hate and despise.

  103. @Writer33

    Finally, it must be noted that Bathsheba – at the very most – likes Gabriel, but does not love him. Here is irony indeed!

    No irony at all – as she didn’t ever “love” Troy either ! She simply became aware – as so many idiotic, headstrong, pig-stubborn young females do – that she wanted to be shafted by a dark, handsome, dashing, “experienced”, muscular young soldier !

    The unfortunate fact that the man in question was as valuable to society as a cowpat wasn’t at all a consideration with her at the time – as it hardly ever is in the “real world”.

  104. @republic

    I wouldn’t deny a word of it – but I would certainly add:

    …that the most supreme manifestation of the greatest statesmanship – which Powell certainly knew and which Hitler understood better than any man who has ever lived – is that sooner or later, as a statesman, you simply MUST display the courage to permanently and ruthlessly REMOVE the parasites who will destroy you, your nation and your people – if you allow them to do so.

  105. @AaronB

    Welsh and Irish DNA is apparently nearest to Basque. I’ve read that.

    And the Angles, Saxons and Jute people did not show up from Germany and Denmark until the Romans left the UK

  106. @Hapalong Cassidy

    Quite right – though I believe there was probably much more French (Breton) and Spanish (Castilian) influx and cross-fertilisation of White Celtic women during the middle-ages than is normally thought to have been the case, once the Norman invaders had paved the way.

    The most perfect example of the dark British phenotype which always springs to mind for me is that of the much-underrated actor Tony Anholt – one-time star of The Protectors, a very popular British tv series from the 1970’s – and in my own view, the very best James Bond we never had.

  107. @Dave Bowman

    DAVE

    Yet Jewish families do not have these social pathology, except perhaps a high divorce rate. What protects Jews from these cultural ravages you listed?

    Why are Jewish families or communities not affected to the same degree?

    After all they watch the same films? There is no Kosher and non-Kosher film genres.

    But they are less affected than whites.

    • Replies: @Alden
    , @Alden
  108. @Dave Bowman

    Genetic links between Norther Spain and Welsh or Irish suggest that a Neolithic link dating back to the Bronze Age. Long before 1066.

    As for Brittany, it was Celts fleeing Britain from German tribes-Jutes, Saxons and Angles.

  109. republic says:
    @anon

    She was an Anglo-Indian, meaning a person of English descent born in India.

    This term is now consider historical.

    other examples of Anglo-Indians were, George Orwell , Rudyard Kipling and Vivien Leigh

    Today the term, Anglo-Indian, British Asian or British Indian refers to a person of Mixed Indian and English parentage.

    • Replies: @jeff stryker
    , @anon
  110. @baythoven

    Gotta love that truly brilliant, spot-on quotation, which absolutely nailed the only real, valid objection to the film as a masterpiece. But it’s actually just the same old story which we have seen with countless hundreds of films which are little more than glorified costume-parties. The problem is very simple: the vast majority of even the most gifted, perceptive, well-educated and hard-working actors and actresses are simply NOT talented enough to do the almost impossible film “job” of correctly and convincingly portraying a set of characters and time periods about which they know and understand practically nothing. And so if this is true of the film’s “talent”, it’s obviously even more true of the screenwriters and directors who put the film together in the first place – and are even further removed from the reality of those they are portraying.

    As for Julie Christie, despite her initials, I never really believed her to be the saviour of world – or at least British – cinema (as she certainly WAS once spoken of in the dim dead past). She possessed one very simple, utterly magical but very time-limited quality above all – the ability to somehow capture in her face and movement every last cliche of the good-time Sixties girl – combined with a devastating, uncommonly-powerful, almost ethereal, barely-human beauty which the camera adored. And so she was dragged kicking and screaming by producers into the 70’s film business, when she should by rights have stayed firmly in her fixed, timeless sixties niche.

    And Yes, to me, certainly, she appeared to wear the same 1960’s lipstick in every single film – including Dr Zhivago – and nothing was ever said by producer, director, casting director, wardrobe manager or anyone else. Go figure.

    • Replies: @Alden
  111. @anon

    No – But Irishmen certainly do.

  112. @republic

    These people are no different than the children of Swedish oil engineers born in Kuwait or white Americans born in Aramaco oil compound hospitals in Saudi.

    There is no Indian blood in them at all. These were merely military brats of Victorian British administrators.

    There was not a whole lot of British intermarriage with locals in India, compared to Spanish colonies. White women did not run around as promiscuous race mixers in Victorian days and British soldiers did not intermarry with Indians like Spanish in Mexico.

    • Replies: @republic
  113. anon[227] • Disclaimer says:
    @republic

    yes, i know Julie Christie is white European

  114. @SunBakedSuburb

    Kubrick was one of those three-dimensional chess guys that some claim Trump to be, and I think he casted O’Neal in the title role because of O’Neal’s innate vapidity.

    Brilliant. And, I am certain, absolutely spot-on.

  115. @Bardon Kaldian

    You know who to blame.

    Or, by now, you certainly should.

  116. republic says:
    @jeff stryker

    There was not a whole lot of British intermarriage with locals in India

    At the time of Indian independence in 1947, there were around 2,000,000 mixed Anglo-Indians.

    About 240,000 British subjects, (pure English) lived in India in 1870, around 165,000 in 1921. and 155,000 in 1931.

    During the British Raj these people of mixed ancestry were a privileged class and held many key administrative roles.

    After Independence, their privileged position in society ended and many moved overseas.

    Today there are around 300,000 to 1,000,000 in India, 90,000 in the UK and smaller numbers elsewhere in the world.

  117. Alden says:
    @jeff stryker

    Your life and experiences in the degenerate White slums of rural Michigan, Detroit and Phoenix are very unusual and experienced by very few other American Whites. In fact, the Whites you knew before you fled to the Asian porn business are so unusual most of us Unz readers don’t think they existed at all.

    • Replies: @jeff stryker
  118. Alden says:
    @jeff stryker

    How would you know about Jews or any other Americans? You left America 30 years ago. All you know about America is your Armageddon fantasies.

    • Replies: @jeff stryker
  119. Alden says:
    @Dave Bowman

    Hardy characters seldom had normal reasonably happy lives. Hardy’s characters had misfortune after misfortune from birth to death. Read some of Hardy’s books.

  120. Alden says:
    @jeff stryker

    The Normans were blond Norwegians 200 years before the conquest. Why are all these people who’ve never been to Europe pontificating about shades of European hair and skin?

    • Replies: @jeff stryker
    , @anon
  121. Alden says:
    @YetAnotherAnon

    Bathsheba, neighbor Boldwood her aunt and the uncle who left Bathsheba the farm were “ Gentry” or gentleman farmers. They all, man or woman had baliffs and foremen who managed the farms for them. They dressed differently, spoke differently, raised their children differently even ate differently and were a completely different caste from the other”farmers”

    Had Bathsheba been an ordinary farmer Gentry landowner Boldwood wouldn’t have socialized with Bathsheba, let alone wanted to marry her.

    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
  122. @Alden

    Asian porn business? I don’t know anything about that. It is illegal in most of Asia (Besides Japan of course).

  123. @Alden

    I left the US in 1999 when I was already 25 years old. I’m still in relatively early middle age (45) but was not a kid either when I moved to Dubai from Phoenix. I was then in my mid-twenties.

  124. @Alden

    I’ve been in all over Europe from Ireland to Sweden to Spain. I’ve never been to Italy. I’ve never been East of Germany however.

    Albeit briefly. I never spent much time in these countries.

    Most of the people on this blog have at least visited Europe and some of them are Europeans or British.

    • Replies: @Alden
  125. @Dave Bowman

    Mark Strong is another James Bond-like British actor who is very dark-looking. When he first came on the scene I often mistook him for Cuban-American actor Andy Garcia.

    • Replies: @jeff stryker
    , @Dave Bowman
  126. @Hapalong Cassidy

    White Cubans are from Northwest Spain, as indicated by Galician names like “Garcia”. Castro’s father was born in Northwest Spain.

    The other Cuban Spanish subset are Canary Islanders, who are obviously darker complected. But in the main, most white Cubans trace their roots to Northern Spain.

    Northern Spain is in the League of Celtic Nations. So obviously there is a genetic link between them and the Irish or Welsh.

  127. anon[170] • Disclaimer says:
    @Alden

    Why are all these people who’ve never been to Europe pontificating about shades of European hair and skin?

    does it bother you?

    • Replies: @Alden
  128. @Alden

    “Had Bathsheba been an ordinary farmer Gentry landowner Boldwood wouldn’t have socialized with Bathsheba, let alone wanted to marry her.”

    Yes, it’s the difference in Jane Austen’s Emma between landowner Mr. Knightley (good enough for Emma) and farmer Robert Martin (good enough for Harriet Smith, who’s not good enough for Mr. Knightley or Mr. Elton).

    • Replies: @Alden
  129. @jeff stryker

    “Romans intermarried with Welsh to a much a greater degree than in England or Scotland and the ancient Italian in Welsh genes tends to be greater.”

    Welsh and Italians do seem to get on very well. They both like a drink and a song, and both have great national anthems. But there’s all sorts of Welsh, they’re not all dark like the ‘black Irish’.

    South Pembrokeshire, ‘Little England Beyond Wales’, was Norman and Fleming, and the Welsh Valleys people are descendants of miners and steelmen from all over the UK.

  130. @Hapalong Cassidy

    The name wasn’t familiar to me, so I looked him up. He’s dark for one reason – though he’s “British by birth”, whatever that means (London), he was christened “Marco Giuseppe Salussolia” ! Actors and their stage names, eh ?

    But then I always used to think that Andy Garcia was Italian-American, like Pesci and De Niro !

    • Replies: @jeff stryker
  131. @Dave Bowman

    Pacino, who resembles Garcia enough to play his family member in GODFATHER, often played Hispanics although he was Italian.

  132. Alden says:
    @anon

    Having been to Europe many times to many countries I find it strange that
    ignorant Nordicists afflicted with Walter Scott’s disease and English Anglo Saxon nonsense display their ignorance of Europeans.

  133. Alden says:
    @jeff stryker

    So why are they posting ignorant stereotypes from some 1890s book about alpines and Mediterranean’s?
    Or maybe they mistook the Algerians in Paris for French people?

  134. Alden says:
    @YetAnotherAnon

    There’s just one sentence at the very end of Emma. It seems that Harriet’s parent, whoever he or she was provided her a much, much more generous dowry than Mrs Elton had. I never noticed it till my sister spotted it. So Robert Martin got not just the prettiest girl in town but a very generous dowry.

    Emma’s on Netflix . I think I’ll watch it tonight

  135. Alden says:
    @Dave Bowman

    The costume designers hair dressers and make up people purposely compromise between authentic period hair and make up and the current style when the movie was made.

  136. @Dave Bowman

    I found your comment amusing, because it looks like you are making a summary of Flaubert’s novel “Emma Bovary” :
    ““marital boredom” , emotional unhappiness, cheating, adultery, heartbreak, emotional chaos, outraged communities, broken families, social breakdown – and of course the man – or woman – responsible losing no time in screwing ten others, mostly without even the formality of a declared relationship. Plus the orphaned kids, suicidal ex-partners”

    But for Flaubert there were no influence of Jew cultural marxist, it was a case of exacerbated romanticism – he was himself a robust man, a vigourous descendant of the Vikings, but subject to “Idées noires” and “Mal de vivre”.

    • Replies: @Alden
  137. @anon

    That’s Mr Stamp doing his Sgt. Troy in the poster. Both he and Mr Bates had blue eyes (or rather the normal British/Irish pale gray) and very (in Brit terms) dark brown hair when younger, viz.
    Photography is a tricky devil.

    I agree with the learned members’ hypotheses on the likely happy resurgence of pre-beaker/celtic/saxon autosomal traits in these gentlemen.

    Isles early farmers were derived from/most closely related to “Iberian” neolithic peoples, probably by way of the Pas de Calais, as was almost the entire Atlantic Europe population until the chalcolithic.
    Sardinians are a remarkably close approximation to their phenotype, including the the blue eyes which may (repeat, may) show” introgression” i.e. bedroom shenanigans with the preceding western hunter-gatherer inhabitants who were quite remarkably blue-eyed. The George Best look, or “Black Irish”.

    Or a result of inbreeding among the very first northern Anatolian agriculturalists who set off round the Med., who also could have carried a few blue-eyed traits. The rest of Europe came under the sway of the branch who trudged up the Danube.

    Then some meddling fool up the Volga invented the horse, and had access to heaps of copper, etc.

  138. @AaronB

    English children (Angles from what is now Yorkshire /Lincolnshire) and therefore much blonder than the adults, taken as slaves presumably by other North Sea pirates. Pope Gregory the Great was the one whose boy-fancying eye caused him to declare in response to the answer, on his enquiring as to their origin, “Non Angli; sed angeli!”. And thus motivated him to send St Augustine to browbeat the Kentish Saxons etc. out of their pagan crimethink. Must be true, it’s in the Venomous Bead.

  139. @YetAnotherAnon

    Forgot to say, in the book (can’t remember if it’s in the film) Bathsheba is informed that Troy’s real father is an earl, which gets her in all of a tizz – alpha by blood, no less.

    One of a number of parallels with Tess of the Durbevilles, in which Tess Durbeyfield continues the fair-maid-falls-for-bad-boy theme by succumbing to the advances of the fake aristocrat Alec D’Urbeville.

    Farmer Gabriel (Oak) who leaves for the Americas has parallels with farmer Angel (Clare) who goes to Brazil, then returns too late.

    Aside from the Angel/Gabriel thing, the name Oak is presumably redolent of English solidity and dependency, the sturdy timber used to construct the British navy, whereas the name Troy perhaps suggests a wandering character from Homer.

    The character of Bathsheba in the Bible is a married woman who is raped by King David, who then arranges the death of her husband in battle, and marries her. (One of many unsavory episodes in the Bible.)

    Alec Durbeville gets killed and Tess is hanged. Sergeant Troy gets killed and Boldwood is hanged.

    Apparently after his last novel, Jude the Obscure, which followed Tess, Hardy retired from writing novels, having apparently run out of plots with absurd coincidences and people to hang. (In Jude The Obscure a ten-year-old boy hangs himself and his younger brothers–“Done because we was too menny.”)

    I too saw the film of Far From The Madding Crowd in 1967, and it is one of the greatest movies. I read the book later.

    However I did not fall in love with Julie Christie, having already fallen in love with her in Doctor Zhivago, like every other teenage boy of my era.

  140. Alden says:
    @old french lady

    There are a lot of political cultural rants in Bovary. First it was anti bourgeois materialism. Emma wanted the pretty furniture and clothes, but the shop keeper lured her to buy things.
    Second it was anti educating farmers daughters and other middle class girls.

    There are several passages blaming Emma’s materialism on going to school and horror of horrors reading novels instead of the Farm woman’s handbook. Emma and her father committed the crime in Flaubert’s eyes of not living like primitive peasants but according to the fathers middle class income

    Flaubert didn’t like the husband Charles either. Charles was a mediocore Dr. Another theme is that middle class married life is dull and boring.

    It’s actually based on a true event. A drs wife got badly in debt and killed herself. Flaubert was a bohemian artist type. He despised ordinary people.

    Has anyone read Zola’s Terese Raquin? Morbid misery everything is sad and depressing. It’s on PDF. Check it out for a real downer.

  141. I agree: there are certainly political points of view in the novel Mme Bovary, but no social class survives unscathed at the end of the book – the atrocious apothecary Homais , who is a typical progressist petit bourgeois triumphs, for the worse.

    for me the authentic heroes are those poor men who love without hope to be loved back, Emma’s father, the farmer, and Charles, the poor silly and clumsy husband.

    Coming back to politics, you could like to read another novel from Flaubert, “l’Education Sentimentale”, the historical context is Paris riots of June 1848 : the author’s scathing irony is exerted on all the parties 😉

    About Zola’s saga of the Rougon-Macquart, it’s not irony, it is profound pessimism – he tried to purge himself – sort of – in one of the novel in this suite, whose title is “La joie de vivre”.

  142. Anon[285] • Disclaimer says: • Website

    The review by Trevor Lynch(Greg Johnson?) is useful as social commentary, sexual politics, and moral judgement, but it mostly overlooks the most important facet of Art. The element of psychology. The best works of art are more about empathy(not to be confused with blind sympathy) and understanding. So, we can believe the characters are acting foolishly or even evil and recognize the ridiculousness of motivations and actions(and the foolishness or injustice of the community as a whole), but art delivers something more than a sermon, lecture, analysis, or diagnosis. Rather, it allows us to empathize and see/feel through the characters and identify with them on some level EVEN IF we disagree with them or loathe them. Oliver Stone has been an uneven director and brazen ideologue, but some of his films can be appreciated as art because his objective was to penetrate and understand. Stone, no fan of Tricky Dick, made a thoughtful political film with NIXON, something he utterly failed with the breathless propagandizing of JFK.

    Lynch’s Counter-Currents movie reviews too often read like right-wing versions of Proggy treatment of culture. If the ‘left’ hailed the New STAR WARS because it’s Diverse and Multi-Culti(even though it is dreadful), Lynch praised JURASSIC WORLD because it is ostensibly a ‘white’ movie(even though it too is dreadful by any aesthetic or emotional standard). If progs too often reduce plays, novels, and movies into simple morality tales of heroes & villains and oppressors & victims, a similar ideological pall hangs over Lynch’s review of MADDING CROWD. There is too much judgmentalism without any effort to understand the characters(even though I agree with much of Lynch’s moral concerns and prescriptions). Now, I’m not opposed to judgement and personal disapproval in arts/culture criticism AS LONG AS there is an effort to understand the why of the characters and situations(and the artist’s intentions). Take films like Martin Scorsese’s MEAN STREETS and GOODFELLAS, and most of the characters range from childish to vile & disgusting. But it would be too easy to dismiss and condemn the characters for being a bunch of ‘goombas’. They are great films because they place us in that cultural-historical milieu and show why people behave as they do in it.

    Lynch’s review is most lacking in the treatment of Sergeant Troy(Terence Stamp). One almost gets the sense that Lynch’s diatribe against Troy is Greg Johnson vs Richard Spencer II by fictional proxy. Yes, Troy is a something of a cad(at times anyway), but he is also something more, and human psychology being what it is, it is totally understandable why Bathsheba is drawn to him(and why William Boldwood[Peter Finch] and Gabriel Oak[Alan Bates] are drawn to Bathsheba in what seems like fatal attractions). Before judgement, the critic should try to empathize and understand. Of course, this applies to works of art, not propaganda. Though I’m not keen on watching homo characters(esp in multi-culti situations), a work of art can make their lives interesting. MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE is a genuine work of art. And C.R.A.Z.Y is one of the most deeply felt movies about the pangs of growing up and problems of family life. Such works deserve empathy on our part even if we may not care for homo characters or situations. On the other hand, a movie like PHILADELPHIA that features simple saints and devils doesn’t deserve any such effort or respect on our part. It is stupid propaganda. FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD, like Terrence Malick’s DAYS OF HEAVEN, is a work with characters of some depth and complexity. Reducing the story to a morality tale doesn’t do it justice.

    Granted, one of the problems is John Schlesinger pulled his punches in making the film. It doesn’t have the auteurist stamp of DAYS OF HEAVEN or Roman Polanski’s superb adaptation of TESS. Schlesinger did a very good job as professional and craftsman, but there isn’t much of the director-as-author in the adaptation. Stanley Kubrick’s BARRY LYNDON and Polanski’s TESS are like universes unto themselves, the products of visionary power. We not only sense the keen eye but the keener intelligence, an invisible omnipotence that holds it all together. In contrast, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD is all eyes, rather like Ang Lee’s very professional version of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. Impeccably done but mostly an exterior than interior work. We see a world than enter a universe.
    TESS unfolds like a dream. We don’t merely witness obsessions verging on madness in the characters but sense them as mood and texture in every square inch of the frame. A genius at his best, Polanski had the keenness to pore through the hearts and minds of characters(though often for perverted purposes) and to infuse the entire setting with unloosed spirits. In works of ‘horror’ like REPULSION and THE TENANT, he blatantly subverted the wall between subjectivity and objectivity, but even in more realistic films like CHINATOWN and TESS, the unease owes to the sense that ‘exteriority’ is inseparable from ‘interiority’. At the ending of CHINATOWN, we don’t merely notice that there is corruption in L.A. Rather, we sense it in the very air that people breathe. It is pervasive, everywhere, and inescapable. It’s like being in a funeral where everyone breathes the fumes emanating from the dead. TESS is remarkable for being saturated with an air of poignancy. If romantic tragedy could be a perfume, Tess was it and filled the air.
    Polanski knew how to get under the skin, which is why his version of MACBETH is one of the best Shakespeare adaptations. There are moments in the film when Macbeth’s psychology becomes ours. We become hypnotized and spellbound by the same madness. And TESS has the power of mood and aura. It’s like a house of hearts.
    This element is missing from Schlesinger’s MADDING CROWD, and part of the reason could have been the novel’s intimidating stature as literary classic, one that dampened creative freedom by commanding faith and reverence. It’s often been said that inferior novels make for better adaptations because film-makers feel free to do as they wish, whereas classics come with towering reputations that tend to overshadow film-makers’ confidence.

    Now, there are advantages to ‘impersonal’ professionalism or cinema-of-quality as well. Auteurism is a double-edged sword. In the hands of a master like Kubrick, Kurosawa, Welles, or Polanski, the source material can be transformed into something remarkable, at once true to the spirit of the source and inspired in ways beyond the scope of the original. Ridley Scott’s version of BLADE RUNNER, in certain respects, goes beyond Philip K. Dick’s novel. And Schlesinger, as auteur, did likewise with his adaptation of MIDNIGHT COWBOY, an excellent novel in its own right.
    But, the downside of auteurism is, more often than not, untalented hacks think the mere application of their ‘personal’ eccentricities will enhance the material. Terry Gilliam is maybe the worst offender, but there are others. MASTERPIECE THEATER, like old Hollywood, has its strengths and limitations. Because it emphasized professionalism, it could be relied on for decent first-rate productions. Its rules hampered artistic personality but also suppressed self-indulgence. More often than not, freedom in cinema has meant freedom to be stupid than genius because stupidity is far more common than genius, which cannot be faked.

    A young shepherd, Gabriel Oak (Alan Bates at his handsomest), proposes marriage to Bathsheba Everdene (Julie Christie at her loveliest)… They would make a handsome couple. Gabriel is clearly intelligent, hard-working, and responsible. He pleads his case well. But Bathsheba declines, because she does not “love” him, and to her mind, it is as simple as that. One has to wonder, though, what exactly she means by love, and why it features so prominently in her decision, since rural farm folk tend to be very pragmatic about such matches.

    In describing Bates as ‘at his handsomest’ and Christie ‘at her loveliest’, Lynch answers his own question. Sure, on the socio-economic level, these are rural farming folks who need to be pragmatic in work and business, but beauty has its own logic. In a way, Gabriel Oak is just as deluded and dreamy as Bathsheba. If he’s so pragmatic and responsible, or rooted in the real world, why doesn’t he find some nice rural woman and settle down with her? Why does he stick around Bathsheba’s manor even though she can be insulting and impetuous? Because he is madly in love with her even though he is careful and hard-nosed enough not to show it. In Bathsheba, he wasn’t just looking for a good match, a good farm wife. Surely, he could have found one of those as he is reasonably handsome and capable. But his mind is set on Bathsheba and no one but her. Indeed, it seems even his dream of raising sheep and becoming rich was to win Bathsheba’s heart. Outwardly, he is a hardworking and responsible character, but in some ways, his devotion to Bathsheba betrays a mad love that is no less mad than the passion of others in the story.
    Also, there is a hierarchy to beauty. While Alan Bates is reasonably handsome, he isn’t beautiful. In contrast, Bathsheba is. Just like University of Michigan, though good, isn’t Yale or Princeton, the fact is Gabriel Oak isn’t on Bathsheba’s level.
    There is also the element of class. Bathsheba, as inheritor, is a woman of property whereas Oak isn’t. Later, we meet William Boldwood who is a man of property, but he’s aged and less attractive. Thus, neither is a dream match for Bathsheba. She is a flower in bloom. Oak, like his name, is a tree, but one that nevertheless longs to protect the flower from rain and wind.

    [MORE]

    Anyway, it misses the point to be sour with Bathsheba because she doesn’t make a sensible choice. Furthermore, if she had acted sensibly, there wouldn’t be much of a conflict and story as means to tease out the tangled threads of the heart and mind.

    Soon Bathsheba moves away, and Gabriel tries to put her out of his mind. But when Gabriel’s flock is killed in a ghastly accident, he is forced to up stakes and seek employment on another man’s farm.

    The dog that ran off the leash and drove the sheep over the cliff anticipates Troy’s impact on the lives of villagers, and yet can we really blame the dog? A dog’s true nature is that of the wolf, a warrior-beast. One part of the dog wants to obey & serve the master, but another part of the dog wants to be its own master and run wild-and-free. It want to be a wolf again. It’s understandable why Oak shoots the dog, but we can also understand why the dog acted as it did.
    And this applies to Troy as well. In some ways, he is a disruptive figure, rather like Randall McMurphy in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST and Paul Newman in COOL HAND LUKE. But in another way, we can see why Bathsheba and men in the village are drawn to him. In a society of so many dour rules and regulations, he represents charisma and independence. (Sadly, current UK has moved to the other extreme, made all the worse because its main Troys are now mostly black who lack even the tragic romanticism of Troy. Notice BBC features a Negro as Achilles, the killer of Hector before the gates of Troy.)

    When Bathsheba fires the farm’s bailiff for thievery, she decides that she will manage the farm herself. She is, in short, one of those “headstrong, independent women” that every year advertisers and journalists tell us are brand new, not like the shrinking violets and clinging vines of last year… However, unlike today’s strong, independent woman stories, Far from the Madding Crowd is not a feminist morality play. Quite the opposite. Hardy shows that Bathsheba’s independence is actually a source of great suffering for herself and the people around her…

    I didn’t get the sense that she was supposed to be ‘headstrong, independent woman’. If anything, her decision seemed practical at the moment as there wasn’t anyone to replace the bailiff. Also, the fact that her uncle/aunt had hired and kept around such a crook for so long goes to show that maybe older people aren’t necessarily wiser.

    Does the story show that Bathsheba’s independence is a source of great suffering? But, didn’t things really go south when she abandoned her independence and married Troy, with whom she became tragically besotted? Now, one could argue that female independence is doomed because a woman will use it to eventually surrender her freedom to an alpha-male-type who tends to be vain, narcissistic, and irresponsible. So, maybe it’s better to deny women independence and match them with responsible men than let them run free and choose, because what they’ll end up doing is surrendering their freedom to some cad, jerk, or a**hole(like maybe loverboy Ricardo Spencerio)? Maybe Nina Koupriovna would have done better to marry some nice bookwormish lad than the cad Spencer, the man who would be 007 crossed with Darth Vader and Batman.

    But here’s the thing. Given Bathsheba’s personal nature, I think things would have been doomed just the same even if she had married or been married off to some responsible kind of man. She’s the kind of woman who has to ‘sow her wild oates’ before she finally comes to her senses.
    Some people learn fast or obey orders. Others have to get burned before they finally realize that the normal, the real, and the limited have value. Consider the ending of GREAT EXPECTATIONS. The woman had to undergo rejection and humiliation before finally settling on a life with Pip(than with a pimp).
    And then, there is the crazy little thing called love. In DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, the main character has a perfectly good wife, but the real love of his life is Lara, and nothing could be done about that. For some people, essentialism is enough. They heed the timeless advice of eternal truths or conventional wisdom. But other people come to grips with reality only by the way of exisentialist process of experience, actualization, and realization. While most people would do better to stick with the tried-and-true, the West moved beyond tradition because of its power of will to be different, independent, and break free of the mold. Had Bathsheba been a Chinese girl in traditional society, she would likely have done as told, just like most of the men. But she has an independent streak, and it is a double-edged sword, a force of good and bad. Also, even if she acts rather callously with her freedom, it is that very quality that makes her so enticing to men like Oak and Boldwood. She is exciting, like Catherine(Jeanne Moreau) in JULES AND JIM. Though not exactly a femme fatale like Lulu in THE BLUE ANGEL or the nymphet in LOLITA(though, to be sure, that obsession was more Humbert Humbert’s own doing), she catches the eyes of men like Oak and Boldwood because of her carefree spirit. Precisely because British society was rigid, regimented, and orderly — where everyone was supposed to know his or her part — , someone like Bathsheba really sticks out and enchants those around her.

    The basic message of Far from the Madding Crowd is that empowering a person who lacks wisdom and maturity is a bad thing. Indeed, empowering such people actually cuts them off from the sources of wisdom and maturity that they need. But it is not just an anti-feminist message, although in this case the primary victim is a woman. It is an anti-individualist message, for the whole thrust of individualism is to empower people to make their own decisions, regardless of wisdom and maturity.

    I’m all for wisdom and maturity, but how does one come upon them? By the trials and errors of life(where errors are sometimes quite valuable and possessed of worth & meaning, just like some foods come with key nutrients along with the toxins; also to get the honey, one must first go through the bees). The thing is to learn from them.
    At the end of the story, one might say Bathsheba and Oak are wiser and maturer precisely because they made ‘mistakes’ and lived through them. It’s a story as old as history itself. Take Adam and Eve in Eden. In a way, one might say they didn’t deserve the freedom that foolishly made them eat from the Forbidden Tree. But without freedom, they would have been robots, not humans. Also, by the tragedy of disobeying God’s wisdom, they set off a complex and fascinating chain of events that made humanity so interesting.

    The historical difference between the East and the West is that the former was more about the rule by the wise and mature(the elderly) and obedience by the social inferiors(usually the young). As a result, East Asia has been historically more stable than the West, but it has also been more static and stagnant. Wisdom and maturity are real strengths, but they are also ruses for power, corruption, lack of imagination, fear of change, and/or greed. Furthermore, while it’s true that people may grow wiser with age, they may also grow colder and more cynical, resentful(in envy of youth), and bitter. Patriarchy has its advantages and is preferable to rule by young brutes, but it can also be stuffy and stultifying. And when an old dog can’t learn new tricks, is it really wise? And even if there could be a perfectly nice society ruled by the wise and mature, would it be ideal for the young to just take advice from wise men instead of breaking out on their own and discovering for themselves what is good and bad? A parent may want his children to do as told and listen to good advice, but if a child always acts ‘ideal’, is he really living and becoming a man? Isn’t defiance a part of what makes life meaningful? After all, a child has to learn from scrapes and bruises what pain and healing are all about. It seems helicopter parenting has done more harm than good to many kids who were, from cradle, told to follow advice than find out or think for themselves.

    There is a reason why Germanic Saga needs someone like Siegfried and why Arthurian legend need someone like Perceval. While it’s true that Siegfried and Perceval are inexperienced, naive, immature, and foolish at times, they also have spirit, will, and ‘idealism’ lacking among the established members of the Order whose roles are so set in stone that they themselves cannot bring about necessary change. Just like it took the Young Turks to create Modern Turkey from the corpse of the Ottoman Empire, there is something to be said about youth. Ancient Athens was full of youthful vigor and spirit. It made a lot of mistakes, some of them grave, but it was also a center of innovation and revolution. In contrast, Byzantine Civilization was all about timeless wisdom and truth as revealed by Christ, but it was iron rule by a corrupt elite that suppressed new ideas and thoughts lest they upset the harmonious order of orthodoxy.
    And consider ‘wisdom’ and ‘maturity’ at play in the films JEAN DE FLORETTE and MANON OF THE SPRING. The old farmer uses all his guile to destroy the upstart young would-be-farmer from the city, just like the Sicilian patriarchs in THE GODFATHER PART II use their ‘respected’ positions to ruthlessly bump off rivals. Of course, one could argue that such men are not truly wise or mature despite their stations in the community, but too often in history, what passes for ‘wisdom’ and ‘maturity’ are tried-and-true means of power than truth or justice at any price. Look around at most aged politicians, academics, journalists, and etc., and we don’t see much in the way of wisdom or maturity but merely the guise of such. Besides, people will disagree on what is wise and mature.

    Also, true wisdom and maturity come with experience, and that’s why Bathsheba’s wisdom/maturity at the end has genuine value. She earned it through experience. She lived through her mistakes and failures. But the thing is they weren’t merely mistakes and failures but motivated by real dreams and passions. Her wisdom at the end is a lived and attained wisdom. In contrast, had she not been free and merely listened to the advice of elders and did as told, she never would have felt that her wisdom is truly hers since she just received and obeyed without having experienced and learned. This is the problem with academics. So few of them really live and experience reality. Rather, they just receive the ‘wisdom’ of their elders in colleges. As teachers’ pets, they don’t need to think or try things out for themselves. They feel they know because they’ve been told. In contrast, many on the Dissident Right, for good or ill, decided to find out for themselves what is true or not based on their own observations and realizations than on the received ‘wisdom’ of PC from boomer elders.
    Also, today’s feminism is not about free and independent women. Rather, it’s about all these girls raised by Big Sister and Big Media/Academia. In contrast, Bathsheba is a free spirit, at least for awhile, because she is free of patriarchy, the church, and yet non-existent feminist ‘sisterhood’.

    Another point of the story is that there is a power greater than wisdom and maturity. The mythic power of romantic love, which simply can’t be dismissed as foolishness. And it’s not just Bathsheba who comes under this spell in relation to Troy. It affects Gabriel Oak too. He’s good at hiding his feelings, but he is madly smitten with Bathsheba. And Boldwood’s assumed wisdom and maturity are instantly rendered useless against the charms of Bathsheba, even when she confesses her callous act and rejects his offer of marriage. So, what good is wisdom and maturity when even a hard-headed, responsible, experience, mature, and wise man like Boldwood falls head-over-heels over a tart like Bathsheba? Good or bad, love is what Richard Spencer likes to characterize certain things: “It is what it is.” It’s like Ace Rothstein just can’t let go of Sharon Stone’s character in CASINO even though, by all rational calculations, she was not a safe bet. It’s likely think Scorsese quoted a scene from MADDING CROWD for CASINO: Bathsheba catches Boldwood’s eye when she tosses wheat at bidders at the market, and Stone does the same with the chips at the craps table. For serious buttoned-down men for whom everything is business, it is refreshing to see a spirited woman with devil-may-care attitude.

    Also, the element of mystery in love owes to the difference between attraction and obsession. Anyone can feel attracted to any man or woman because he or she happens to be good-looking. But why the obsession that, unlike mere attraction, lingers and clings? Why was Humbert so powerless before Lolita? Why couldn’t Zhivago resist his love for Lara? Why did the German professor give up everything for the singer in THE BLUE ANGEL? In the Yukio Mishima short story PRIEST AND HIS LOVE, why did a wise elderly Buddhist priest lose his peace of mind after a glimpse of a woman? American pop scholars Beavis and Butthead might say it was ‘boing’, but obsession goes beyond ‘boing’. It’s about Boing and Time, Boing and Nothingness.

    Love is strange, which is why Merlin warns against it in EXCALIBUR.

    https://ianwinterton.co.uk/what-about-nicol-williamson-as-merlin-in-excalibur/

    “I once stood exposed to the dragon’s breath so a man could lie one night with a woman. It took me nine moons to recover and all for this lunacy called love, this mad distemper that strikes down both beggar and king. Never again!”

    And yet, without the madness of love, men wouldn’t fight for glory. After all, the Trojan War was about Helen of Troy. And there would have been no Arthur if not for Uther’s desire for Igraine. There’s no new life without mating of men and women. Now, any man or any woman will do to create life, and in the animal world, chimps will hump just about any other chimp, even granny chimps in HAROLD AND MAUDE fashion. But humans developed an eye for beauty like a tooth for sweetness, and so, there is a fascination with romantic love that supposedly transcends mere heat of the moment.

    Also, the fascination with the power of love has to do with its odd blend of fragility and tenacity. When a big lug with an ax towers over you, that is an obvious kind of power. Or if some guy is smart and has expertise in organizing men, that kind of power is also easily understood. In contrast, women are weaker than men. And beautiful men are not necessarily the most powerful. Beauty, in and of itself, is useless in the utilitarian sense, and yet it’s precious like gold and enchants people in the same way. People fought with swords made of bronze and iron but for gold, which for most of human history, was pretty useless from a pragmatic point of view. Likewise, people struggle with hands and feet to win the pretty face.

    In a way, we can dismiss this fixation with love & beauty as foolishness, and we may agree that maturity-and-wisdom means to look beyond romantic enticements. And yet, the power of beauty has its own ‘logic’. No matter how much one may be resolved to say NO to beauty, there it is, and even the most mature and learned man whose attitude is ‘been there, done that’ may instantly go ‘gaga’ over beauty. Take the film LOVE AND DEATH IN LONG ISLAND which begins with a jaded English writer who feels he’s seen and felt just about everything. He’s inured to life as same-old same-old routines of boredom and seems impervious to any foolish passion, and yet, upon watching some pretty boy in a teen comedy, he is totally smitten. On the one hand, he is indeed being foolish and begins to act silly. And yet, there is a sense of excitement and vigor that had been missing in his life, and it could only have come from this fascination with the young actor.

    Gabriel… consistently demonstrates manly self-discipline, conscientiousness, and technical mastery. He is, in truth, a natural leader—an alpha male… He’s a rock. He’s always there for her. And apparently there’s nothing the least bit loveable or sexy about it from her point of view.

    Is he a natural leader? He seems more a natural doer. He is capable, and others rely upon him. But being a good manager isn’t quite the same as being a leader who needs the power to inspire others. Gabriel is all hands and feet. He’s a carpenter, not an architect. Also, if he’s an alpha male, why is he like a loyal dog to a woman who shows no interest in him? He is a sturdy and capable fellow but emotionally as much beta as alpha. And of course there isn’t much sexiness about being a ‘rock’. Rocks don’t rock but stay in place. It’s the rolling stones that rock.

    One spring day, Bathsheba finds an unused valentine… On a whim, Bathsheba writes “Marry Me” on it and sends it to Mr. Boldwood… A more mature woman would have admitted her mistake, apologized sincerely, and flatly refused him… But Boldwood too was at fault. He was too smitten to grasp Bathsheba’s immaturity and simply would not take no for an answer. Like Gabriel, he should have simply tried to put her out of his mind.

    This shoulda-coulda perspective is too schoolmarmish for our understanding of the story. If we take the shoulda-coulda outlook in arts & culture, we can sit around griping endlessly about how foolish a whole bunch of characters acted in plays, novels, and movies. In some cases, the actions are just plain stupid and could have been avoided. But, MADDING CROWD is about individuals acting under a certain power, and the element of free will is only a small part of the whole equation. It’s like when a fire is really raging, it has to burn through before people can start to plant and start anew. In the film UGETSU, one may say the potter ‘made a mistake’ to be seduced by the ghost-temptress, and yet the story makes us understand why the spell was irresistible. If we take a libertarian rationalist perspective, it sure was stupid for Scotty to fall head-over-heels in love with Madeline in VERTIGO, but the mythic power of love was such that he was sucked into the undertow. So, taking a rationalist and moralist approach to MADDING CROWD doesn’t make us understand what is going on.
    The problem is not that Boldwood is ‘at fault’. He is under a spell, and it is just too powerful. Even if he decided to wake up one day and rationally will himself to forget about Bathsheba, her image and voice will haunt him all day and night. It’s beyond his personal will.
    Also, Oak did NOT put her out of his mind. Because he grew up tough and poor, he knows his place in the world. He knows he’s no lover boy nor how to be one. He was compelled to be pragmatic all his life, and so he carries on with nose-to-grindstone. And yet, she has never left his mind. He sticks around not only for work but because he too is quietly smitten with her. The difference is that Boldwood, as a man of means and property, has a chance of winning her whereas Oak hasn’t, at least until the very end when Bathsheba’s been through so much that she needs a rock to hold onto. Anyway, it was easier for Oak to accept reality because he has slim chance of winning her, especially upon realizing that she’s wealthier than he’d assumed at the beginning. In contrast, Boldwood is bound to suffer more because he feels he has the station and wealth to win her over. She seems within his grasp, which is why he can’t let go.
    Furthermore, Oak has youth and looks, which counts for something in a man. Even if Bathsheba won’t have him, he has a kind of pride of strength and health. In contrast, Boldwood is a middle-aged man for whom Bathsheba is the last chance for real love and happiness. As a man of means, he could have married some nice woman long ago, but he devoted himself to work and property and assumed he’d be content with that. But in the encounter with Bathsheba, he realized how empty life was on his own, and it has to be her and her alone because she made him realize that emptiness of his. It’s like a man who’d grown accustomed to undernourishment but then eyes a juicy steak that makes his mouth water so much that it has to be that steak and only that steak alone.

    A mature and sensitive woman would never have trifled so callously with the old bachelor’s heart.

    And yet he’s grateful because he feels alive again. A mature and sensitive woman might have left him alone, but then, his entire life would have been the same old same old until he grew old and died without knowing any passion. But despite the agony and ultimately tragedy, Boldwood felt alive because of Bathsheba’s high-spirited flirtation that seemed so fresh and flighty. She was like spring to a man who’d settled on never-ending winter. A bear out of hibernation is especially hungry. It’s like what the woman brings to the spartan community in BABETTE’S FEAST. It disrupts the social order devoted to piety and virtue, but the folks are also grateful for flavors they’d never known.
    Maturity and sensitivity are good generally but also repressive of spontaneity and inspiration. In our time, we need to stress maturity and wisdom as we live in the Age of Shameless Infantilism, but things were different in the world of MADDING CROWD. Back then, British society needed more freedom and individuality, not less. It’s like warm tea is for winter, cold lemonade is for summer. We must be careful not to project current problems onto the past. Everything needs balance. It’s like Robin Williams’ loosening up the classroom in DEAD POETS SOCIETY makes sense in that preppy milieu, and Edward James Olmos was good to bring order & discipline to the rough barrio school in STAND AND DELIVER. Is something too hot, cool it down; if something is too cold, warm it up.

    Bathsheba’s valentine antic was silly and childish, but it was also unexpected. It had an element of spark. In a world where everything is routine and predictable, what Boldwood never expected came to be and ignited something in him. He received a love offer, and he was bedazzled. In SEPARATE PEACE by John Knowles, Finny certainly lacks ‘maturity and sensitivity’, but he’s the life of the school because he takes chances and has lots of charm, which makes Gene envious and resentful.

    Bathsheba might well have ended up marrying Boldwood were it not for the appearance of cavalry sergeant Francis Troy… Although his face entirely lacks beauty or character, the fact that he is tall, dashing, and wears a uniform makes him irresistible to women. Troy, however, is a cad, with a full suite of what the manosphere calls “Dark Triad” traits—narcissism, sociopathy, and manipulativeness—which women commonly mistake for healthy alpha male traits…

    Terence Stamp lacks beauty? I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but Terence Stamp was considered one of the most beautiful men of his time. And he looks fabulous in MADDING CROWD. It’s no wonder he was cast in Pasolini’s TEOREMA as a god-like figure who comes to a bourgeois family and commit sexual-like acts, homo and straight, with each of the members. John Simon called it ‘godomy’.

    It seems Lynch sees too much of Richard Spencer in Troy(LOL), and this clouds his judgement about the character. Troy is something of a cad but not entirely, and he is not without certain depths and twisted integrity of his own.

    Before Bathsheba came on the scene, Troy had seduced, impregnated, and then abandoned one of the farm girls, Fanny Robin. He actually agreed to marry her. But it was an impromptu affair, and when she went to the wrong church at the appointed time, his vanity was so inflamed that he broke the engagement.

    That over-simplifies what really happened. One doesn’t get the sense that Troy seduced a farm girl merely for self-amusement. Also, it probably didn’t require much in the way of seduction because it’s easy to fall for a handsome dashing soldier. And, he didn’t abandon her but called off the wedding when she arrived late. This wasn’t just a matter of simpering vanity. The fact is, despite Troy being a man without means, he was willing to do the right thing and marry below his station because he had genuine feelings for Fanny. Besides, as he didn’t know about the pregnancy, he wasn’t acting out of social compulsion. In his view, he was being gracious and going out of his way to do a favor to Fanny. All his men surely heard about the wedding, and he invited some of them to the ceremony. So, he did his part to do something for Fanny, but the simple-minded country girl totally humiliated him in front of his peers. It wasn’t really her fault, but we can surely understand his fury. This was a matter of wounded pride, not mere vanity. And back then, a man’s reputation relied much on pride and honor. So, it is understandable why he found Fanny’s absence at the wedding to be utterly intolerable.

    In one of the best scenes of the film, Boldwood tries to bribe Troy into marrying Fanny and leaving Bathsheba to him. Troy toys with Boldwood, then announces that he is too late, for he has married Bathsheba that very morning. Boldwood is crushed.

    This is actually to Troy’s credit. It shows that he is not just about money and cannot be bought. He does have a sense of pride and, if anything, despises Boldwood for being so weak and ultimately servile.

    The honeymoon does not last long… He is immediately accepted as lord of the manor, but he has no knowledge of farming or interest in responsibility. In a scene that beautifully illustrates his character—or lack of it—he regales the adoring farmhands with bawdy military songs while drinking them under the table. Meanwhile, a storm brews up, and when Gabriel tries to get some of the farmhands away from the party to secure the hayricks from being blown away, he is rebuffed by Troy who does not want to lose his audience. It is classic narcissist behavior. So Gabriel and Bathsheba herself struggle in the storm, soaked to the bone, to save the farm from loss while Troy’s revelries continue.

    Again, this is an over-simplification of what really happened. It was a festive moment with dancing, music, and food-and-drinks. Anxious of the looming storm, Oak rather feebly tries to convey the message to Troy who, at the moment, is in a middle of a dance with Bathsheba. Naturally, Troy doesn’t want to be interrupted. If Oak really cared about recruiting some men to tie the hay down, he should have gone to Troy directly, but he uses a rather ineffective doddering intermediary. Too busy dancing, Troy never heard anything about the storm. So, it’s not like he refused aid despite knowledge of the looming storm. He never got the message. Also, Oak could have made his case before the people in the barn AFTER THE DANCE, but he remains tight-lipped. Why didn’t Oak himself walk up to Troy. Because he has his own sense of wounded pride. He is quietly sulking over the fact that the woman HE loves married Troy. So, he’d rather use a go-between. And if he really needed a few men to help him, he could pulled them away without permission from Troy who isn’t paying much attention anyway.

    Also, is it such a bad thing that, once in a long while, the men of the village have a pretty good time with song and drink with Troy who, instead of looking down on them as mere farmhands, treats them as fellow-revelers? The fact is Troy never heard of the storm, and it took some time before the men in the barn were totally drunk. But Oak never once runs back in to call for help.
    In a way, he seems almost grateful to go it alone because hard work is his therapy, his way of coping with disappointments. Some people go for comfort-food. Oak goes for comfort-work. It’s a way to get his mind off things.
    But more importantly, it is his opportunity to demonstrate his true worth to Bathsheba. It is through work and hardship that he is able to bond with her, if only for a moment as she comes out to work alongside him. He can’t be the white knight but can be the work-horse who proves his worth. And Bathsheba is impressed and grateful for what seems like selfless devotion on his part. While the sheep are prancing with the wolf in the barn, the loyal dog is weathering the storm to serve the master.

    Bathsheba is willing to suffer quite a lot because she is “in love” with Troy.

    Mythic love is the strongest and most potent kind of love. What is the appeal of Greek mythology? Why do mortals fall in love with gods and even make love with them? By human standards, gods seem vain, irresponsible, and self-indulgent, but that’s because they are gods and live by their own rules. A vulgarized form of this is celebrity worship in our society, and it’s often stupid. But we can understand why people feel this way. Children naturally identify with princes and princesses than with hardworking peasants or blacksmiths. In MONTY PYTHON’S HOLY GRAIL, the toiling peasants rail against the exploitative king and nobility, but we are always drawn more to gods, kings, knights, and heroes than with ordinary folks, no matter how decent they are.

    Now, I’m all for humanism, but the mythic side of human psychology isn’t going away anytime soon. In the end, humanism prevails because no man, however brilliant or handsome, is literally a god. They grow old and die. Look at Sean Connery now. Still, we can understand why Bathsheba fell in love with Troy for his ‘vain’ and ‘irresponsible’ godlike qualities. He acts like he’s too good for ordinary work. Though not of noble lineage(as far as I could tell), he was of the warrior profession and comports like a man suited for adventure and glamour. In MILDRED PIERCE, why does the eponymous heroine toil to support a man of finesse and class? Because one can’t really buy style. Some have it, some don’t. Now, is Troy a contemptible figure like the guy in MILDRED PIERCE? Deeply flawed but no. There is a saving grace about Troy to which Lynch is willfully blind.

    But things come crashing down when a very pregnant Fanny Robin shows up at the farm asking for Troy’s help, then promptly dies in childbirth. When the coffin is brought to the farm for burial, Gabriel hides the fact that it also contains a baby… Troy then walks in, and… he seems to be filled with love and remorse for Fanny… He is simulating love and dejection merely to spite Bathsheba. Troy then goes to the ocean, undresses, and swims out to sea.

    Lynch fails to mention that when Fanny showed up, Troy was kind and gentle with her, and he did try to get the money for her. Troy is not without a soul. He did have and still has genuine feelings for Fanny. Bathsheba misunderstood this by suspecting infidelity on his part. She thought he was asking for money for an affair. It was to do right by Fanny.

    As for Troy’s sudden rush of emotions about dead Fanny, something he hadn’t felt before, it too has to do with the mythic dimensions of love. While alive, Fanny was just a pretty girl he’d been engaged to or a pitiable figure in need of charity, but as a dead woman(especially with his child) she becomes the stuff of myth. There’s a blend of guilt, spirituality, and poetry in how Troy feels about Fanny as ghost. It’s like Madeleine comes to mean much more to Scotty after she dies in VERTIGO. She goes from sad beauty to the stuff of myth. And in LA STRADA, the death of Gelsomina has a devastating effect on Zampano. She goes from human dog to an angel.

    The notion that Troy was merely ‘simulating’ or faking emotions to spite Bathsheba doesn’t do justice to what really happens in that scene. Troy may not be a deep character who carries life lessons wherever he goes, but he is consumed by the passion of the moment, and his pathos upon gazing at dead Fanny was not fake. In that moment at least, he discovered a kind of love he had never known or felt, and compared to this dark love of tragic poetry, Bathsheba looked like a flighty little bird, a nothing. He becomes, at least for awhile, as consumed in his love for mythic Fanny as Bathsheba is for mythic Troy(and as Boldwood is for mythic Bathsheba). In all three cases, the characters see more than there really is, but then love is always an illusion to some degree. To Boldwood, Bathsheba isn’t just a pretty woman but a goddess whom he must serve if not possess. To Bathsheba, Troy isn’t just a handsome feller but a god-man who lives by his own rules. It’s as if he descended from Mt. Olympus. And to Troy, the image of dead Fanny and her child fills him with dark and deep vision of love and beauty he hadn’t known but now knows and feels with such power(though not forever as he’s not that kind of man).

    Love is subjective and relative. It’s like the circus scene when Troy in disguise stands before a horse trained to feign death. Some in the audience are laughing, some are amused, some are a bit sad, but one man is bawling in grief. Why? Something especially mushy about his character? Or did he know of a beloved horse that died?
    Individuals and objects elicit different responses from us depending on our emotional nature, genetic makeups, life histories, and memories. Fanny, Troy, and Bathsheba belong to a circular trio whereas Oak and Boldwood are left out. What do Fanny, Troy, and Bathsheba have in common? All three were overcome with mad love and were objects of mad love. Bathsheba was the object of mad love by Boldwood and Oak(who hides it beneath his tough and hardened exterior). Troy was the object of mad love by Bathsheba(and perhaps Fanny). And Fanny, at least in death, becomes the object of mad love by Troy. In contrast, no one loved Boldwood and Oak madly.

    As Christmas approaches, Boldwood… will be announcing his engagement. But then disaster strikes… Troy reappears. He has faked his death. But having heard of Bathsheba’s prospective engagement, he returns out to spite to assert his marital rights. Bathsheba is shocked and refuses to follow him. So Troy begins to manhandle her. Then we hear a shot. Troy falls dead on the stairs. Boldwood stands with a rifle.

    I think saying that he ‘faked’ his death is too harsh. Based on what is shown, it seems he failed in his death. Drowning oneself at sea isn’t easy. Also, what did Troy have to gain by faking his death? Having failed in his death, he hides in shame by traveling around with some hokey circus troupe doing pony tricks.
    One thing for sure, he did swim far out to sea after taking his clothes off. If he really just wanted to fake his death, he wouldn’t have gone nude at all or ran into the waves. He would have just left some clothes behind and ran off.

    Then we witness one of the most wrenching tragic climaxes since Sophocles. Bathsheba breaks down in tears over her beloved Frank. Boldwood looks on, in utter horror, at the abyss of irrationality into which he has now flung his life. He will hang for this, for absolutely nothing. Two men are dead, one noble, the other absolutely base, all for a woman of genuine beauty and goodness who was empowered to make catastrophic decisions that destroyed two lives and brought misery to her own.

    LOL. I’m telling you. Troy isn’t as bad as Richard Spencer but then Richard Spencer isn’t as bad as ‘Richard Spencer’, the delusional Faustian Batman. He just needs to grow up and put away childish things.

    Irrationality, yes, but emotions are irrational. Why was Boldwood so obsessed with Bathsheba? Irrational. And yet, it is too simplistic to say that he will ‘hang… for absolutely nothing’. He will hang for the profound truth of love. And if he were given a choice between a scenario where he never fell in love with Bathsheba & lived a quiet life all alone AND a scenario where he faces execution after having fallen in love with her and killed for her, he might still have chosen the latter because it brought him close to love and passion even if it leads to the gallows. Tragedy has its own beauty.
    Also, ironically enough, it is his killing of Troy that reignites her mad passion for Troy, just like the death of Fanny made Troy love her more than he could have loved her alive. And in a way, it’s fitting that both men’s lives end in doom. Troy, the man for whom Bathsheba felt impossible love, and Boldwood, the man who felt impossible love for Bathsheba. Boldwood may hang, but for several years, he has truly lived life and plumbed the depths of human emotions from the high drama. When he killed Troy, did he think he was protecting Bathsheba from him? Did he kill out of jealousy? And yet, even though Bathsheba and Boldwood will never be together, they are united in the same emotions, that of the impossible love. Whatever happens, Troy was the great love of her life, and whatever happens, Bathsheba was the great and only love of Boldwood’s life.

    When, at the end of STRAW DOGS, Dustin Hoffman’s character finally finishes off one of the invaders with a wolf trap, it turns out his wife is more horrified by the death(of her former lover and rapist) than relieved to see her husband triumphant. Irrational perhaps, but there is an underlying rationality to irrationality. If in evolutionary history, women gravitated toward and felt safer with stronger alpha males than weaker males, then women will be genetically programmed to favor alphas over betas. And if we evolved to appreciate beauty as an intoxicant, then it is natural and ‘rational’ that we would be smitten with it and work so hard to attain it in one form or another. Everything ‘irrational’ makes sense from another perspective. If beauty is precious and alluring, then people will be drawn to beauty like plants to sunlight. Just like the beautiful Rhine Maiden say NO to the ugly Nibelungen, the game of beauty is where the blessed few get to play gods, at least in the summer of youth.

    Also, Boldwood isn’t that noble, and Troy isn’t that base. If Boldwood were so noble, he would care more about the betterment of the community than fixate so heavily on bliss with Bathsheba. And Troy, like the Burt Lancaster character in THE SWIMMER, is a romantic, a saving grace. He is sometimes a jerk, but he is more, if in surprise even to himself. But then, no one fully understands oneself, and things happen that release emotions that shockingly upend one’s sense of self and worldview. There is a gentle kind of wisdom that one learns through study and discourse, but there is another kind of wisdom that can only be attained by trial by fire. It’s like there’s gentle conversion to a new faith based on sacred texts & rituals, and then, there’s impassioned conversion like Paul’s Damascus moment. A sense of being born again.

    …instead of wasting away in Bathsheba’s friend zone, Gabriel decides to move to America. Only then does Bathsheba truly appreciate him. For she can only really love a man who is independent of her. She rushes to stop him. Gabriel says he will stay under one condition. Then, in a gesture that will pierce even the most cynical hearts, he repeats word for word his vision of married life that she had rejected at the beginning of the film. But this time she says yes. It was the right choice…
    The movie ends with Gabriel and Bathsheba settling into married bliss. But then the eye of the camera strays over to Troy’s clock, focusing on the soldier in the tower, like a memento mori to remind us that the Troys of the world and the irrational romanticism they evoke will always threaten marriage and family life.

    Did Oak really plan on moving to America or was it a ploy to bind Bathsheba closer to him? And does she suddenly feel love for Oak because of his plan to emigrate, a sign of independence from her? I think not. After all, upon being rebuffed at the beginning of the film, Oak demonstrated his independence by accepting her decision and carrying on. At one time, she banished him from the farm, and he just took up and left. Oak demonstrated, at least outwardly, time and time again that he can go on without her. But all that time, Bathsheba didn’t feel any love for him.

    In a way, Oak is just as irrational as Boldwood and Troy. If he really wanted a family, he should have found some nice farm girl and started a family. But he remained single because he only cared for one woman. Even when she married Troy and then was about to marry Boldwood, he hung around, unmarried. It was as if he was so smitten with her that he was waiting for second servings and leftovers in case some tragedy struck, and by some luck(or tragedy, but then, one man’s misfortune is another man’s fortune), chance killed two birds with one stone. Boldwood took out Troy, and the Law took him out. Oak was running third but the first-runner and second-runner tripped over one another, and Oak ended up ‘finishing first’.
    But then, the fact is Troy had her first, and Boldwood almost had her second. Oak got her by luck, and one wonders what he would have done if she’d married Boldwood and if Troy hadn’t returned. Would he have waited around, growing older, in the hope that Boldwood will die and then finally Bathsheba will marry him? There is a slow-burning romanticism in that. The fact is Oak is himself a romantic though he hasn’t the style and means to show it. So, he broods silently and takes out his frustrations through hard work. And in the end, he reaps his rewards, but the moral tale isn’t just about the primacy of marriage and family. If it were, Oak would have settled down with some nice dependable farm girl than hang around for leftovers because he can’t get Bathsheba out of his mind.

    Also, in an odd way, Troy was the matchmaker of Bathsheba and Oak because she had to get it out of her system(via her mad burning love with Troy) to finally arrive at a more balanced and stable outlook on life. Her appreciation of Oak couldn’t have been possible if not for her tumultuous life journey with Troy, the peaks and pits of her life. It’s like it took Dorothy’s adventure in the land of Oz for her to finally appreciate that there’s no place like home.

    The Anglo-Saxon character has been defined by love of risk & adventure and appreciation of security & order. Some on the Alt Right say Spencerism represents the ‘imperialist’ Anglo will to wander, conquer, and discover whereas ‘nationalist’ Johnsonism represents the Anglo wish to preserve, defend, and maintain. Both were crucial in the rise of Anglosphere, a spirit of adventure tempered by discipline and sobriety.
    After all, the overly cautious are hardly conquerors. East Asian high civilization, conservative and cautious, remained locked within East Asia. In contrast, Europeans were willing to throw caution to the winds and go sailing across oceans just to see what’s on the other side. There was an element of madness in all this, but without it, there would have been no triumph of the West. Granted, European adventure was premised on European order, much like church towers are buttressed by support systems, something too many people have forgotten about the West, especially British Civilization.

    The tragedy of Troy is he didn’t have enough battles to fight. Just like Oak is at his best immersed in work, Troy feels most alive and useful in the battlefield with a saber. Even on the farm, he prefers cockfights to the drudgery of labor, but then that is why Bathsheba married him. She wanted a god with a saber atop a horse, not another farm hand with a pitchfork.

  143. TIME BANDITS was not bad.

    Schlesinger seemed to specialize in homoerotic stuff like Penn and Hutton or Voight and Hoffman but outside that bromance gone bad stuff he never could do much.

    SCORSESE was a pretty good technician but Italian mean streets and mobsters were all he really knows and remade the same movie about 10 x.

    POLANSKI has been hit or miss. Sometimes his paranoia hits the mark and sometimes it does not. His deeply personal films about alienation in cramped apartments or relationships gone bad are his forte and that is about it. Again, he remade REPULSION twice.

  144. Skeptikal says:
    @TheOldOne

    I did not think Kinsky was a believable Tess—who must be played by a quintessential English beauty, which Kinski is not—and it was not filmed in southwest England (hardy’s Wessex) but rather in France, so the countryside didn’t look right.

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