“Come all ye fair and tender girls that flourish in your prime. Beware, beware, keep your garden fair. Let no man steal your thyme.”
A few weeks ago, I saw “Far From the Madding Crowd.” This was my first encounter with anything Thomas Hardy related. I hadn’t read the book before seeing the movie, which I know is a sin in some book lover circles, but I didn’t care this time. Now, I am a complete sucker for period dramas. I have probably seen every BBC drama series. I’ve watched “Little Women” more than any other movie, seen every adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” many times, and seen anything from Cranford to Angel. I weep, laugh, and enjoy every second. And yes, I watch these movies alone so that no one distracts me from my solace. This may sound really lonely, but I see something more in this ritual of mine. I love seeing the beauty in life on screen. It’s not so much the romance of the stories as it is the beauty and simplicity of life. The shots of sunrises, beautiful violin music, and eloquent speeches from educated individuals relax me and cause me great joy. So, when I saw “Far From the Madding Crowd”, I encountered literally every single thing that I love about movies. The soundtrack was flawless; it puts you in a trance of relaxation. I listen to soundtracks on a regular basis, so this one has already been played many times. There were numerous shots of nature and country life that were just so lovely and meticulously filmed. Carrie Mulligan has already been a favorite ever since I saw her in “Pride in Prejudice”, which most people don’t realize. Yes, she was in it, and she played Kitty. Pay attention, world. Now, I find her strength and dedication to her characters to be so inspiring. Bathsheba is an interesting character, and can be taken in many ways, but she advocated so strongly for every single emotion. My feminist heart fluttered multiple times in this film. I mean, she ran a farm and household by herself. She rose in a society run by men, and worked tirelessly, announcing:
”Don’t anyone suppose that because I’m a woman, I don’t understand the difference between bad goings-on and good. I shall be up before you’re awake, I shall be afield before you’re up, and I shall have breakfasted before you’re afield. In short, I shall astonish you all.”
I mean, I feel the same. She tells Oak that he could never tame her, which was a pretty bold move in those days. Also, she points out that it is really hard for a woman to express her feelings in a language that is made mostly by men. Yes, women can use language to say some amazing things, but she still has a good point. Now, to the quote from the beginning of this post. There is a song in the movie that Bathsheba sings, and it is really one of my favorites now. “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme” is actually a really old song, but I love the reminder that women have a garden to tend to, and we must protect it so that no man steals our thyme “time.” Ha! play on words. This may sound like a random collection of thoughts, but it’s really just me obsessing over what I love. I don’t usually find female characters very relatable, but this time I was both presently and painfully surprised. Bathsheba Everdeen is definitely not perfect, and she is pretty foolish when it comes to men. She is prideful and leads one very important man on by accident. I’ve never had any of her exact situations happen to me, thank goodness, but her pride, and that fact that she is easily wooed is literally me all the time. She is the quintessential “I don’t need a man” character. Yet, in her weaknesses, she is so strong and loyal to those around her. It was like I was watching myself in another time period with all my ups and downs heightened. Her relationship with Oak is everything I want in life. His quiet and steady love is exactly what her sporadic, spunky personality needs. He is honestly now my favorite literary love interest. What I am really trying to say is that there is an undeniable beauty to this movie, and many others like it. I watch “Ever After” and “Emma” over and over again because I need to remind myself that that kind of beauty and classic romance is actually possible. Call me unrealistic, but the happy ending, in all its drama and surprising simplicity is what I, and countless other humans want. Not the damsel in distress surrounded by drama, but a desire for home, peace, and love. This has been a brief tour of Rebecca’s fantasies. I hope you have enjoyed the ride. Now, go watch the movie.