Archetypes: Film: Review: ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ (2015)

Fox Searchlight

Fox Searchlight

Although set in Dorset, England, in 1870, period movie Far from the Madding Crowd is a modern take on relational independence and interdependence, the age-old push-pull between affectionate Venus and emotionally free-from-all-ties Uranus.

Written and directed by Thomas Vinterberg and based on the classic Thomas Hardy novel, the movie opens with heroine Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) working in the fields of a female relative’s farm. Although educated, she was “far too wild” to make it as a governess.

We soon see her strong proclivities toward maintaining her freedom, when she turns down a marriage proposal from earnest, rock-solid and ruggedly handsome sheep farmer Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts). “I don’t want to be married; I can’t imagine being some man’s property,” she tells him. “I’m too independent for you. You’d grow to despise me.”

After she inherits an uncle’s farm, we see that independent streak full force. She winds up hiring Gabriel – through forces beyond his control, he has lost his own farm – who sees his new employment as a way to continue his commitment to Bathsheba’s welfare. The question: How long will it take Bathsheba to figure out that this modest shepherd will both uphold her need for self-sufficiency and be an egalitarian mate? The answer does not come easily.

Into the mix enters a couple of other distractions: Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), a disgraced soldier with drinking and gambling problems, and William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), a middle-aged man of means who, like Gabriel, wishes to ensure Bathsheba’s quality of life.

However, FFTMC is much more than watching Bathsheba realize where her heart lies.

The film provides an exemplary take on the animus – the Jungian term for a woman’s archetypal inner male – which females often project onto real men when failing to integrate this so-called internal partner within themselves. Frank clearly represents Bathsheba’s “bad boy” side – a tempting diversion from her non-stop farming labors. William is the “good provider” that she aspires to be for herself. And Gabriel is the guy who’ll leave a party to cover and protect the crops in the face of an oncoming storm, just as Bathsheba would. In other words, they’re equals.

FFTMC is about harvesting fields, the ones under the sky, the others deep within ourselves. Both yield bounty.

Archetype: Independent Woman. Progressive Woman. Free-spirited Woman.

Astrology Archetype: ♅ (Uranus)

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