Seeing as his work was published back in the 1800’s, Thomas Hardy probably isn’t much of a household name these days. But people who were English majors in college still know him, due to the class or two where they were likely assigned works like “The Return of the Native” or “Jude the Obscure.” He’s like Wordsworth, just a little less famous.
Thomas Vinterberg, similarly, isn’t much of a household name. But he’s a name that film students probably recognize, due to his being one of the co-founders of the Dogma 95 movement of minimalist filmmaking. Also, several of his works, like The Celebration or, more recently, The Hunt, have made decent waves in the insular worlds of film festivals and awards shows. Basically he’s like Lars Von Trier, just a little less famous.
We’re discussing these two Thomases because their work is about to collide in an interesting way. According to a report from The Wrap, the Danish director is currently in talks to adapt one of Hardy’s classic novels, “Far From the Madding Crowd,” for the big screen. If a deal is struck, the script Vinterberg would be working with comes from a fellow named David Nicholls, who’s been something of an adaptation machine lately, as he’s already adapted another of Hardy’s works, “Tess of the D’Urbervilles,” into a BBC miniseries, he wrote the new Mike Newell-directed adaptation of “Great Expectations” that just debuted at TIFF, and he’s also got a version of “Tender is the Night” currently in the works. Guy must be a pretty avid reader.
For those of us who aren’t though, we turn to Amazon to figure out what Far From the Madding Crowd is going to be all about. Their description of Hardy’s novel reads like so:
“Gabriel Oak is only one of three suitors for the hand of the beautiful and spirited Bathsheba Everdene. He must compete with the dashing young soldier Sergeant Troy and the respectable, middle-aged Farmer Boldwood. And while their fates depend upon the choice Bathsheba makes, she discovers the terrible consequences of an inconstant heart.
‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ was the first of Hardy’s novels to give the name Wessex to the landscape of south-west England, and the first to gain him widespread popularity as a novelist. Set against the backdrop of the unchanging natural cycle of the year, the story both upholds and questions rural values with a startlingly modern sensibility.”
The Wrap also heard that the studio’s early choice for the Bathsheba character is Carey Mulligan, but, at this point, that bit of news probably has to be taken with a bigger grain of salt than the Vinterberg news. Let’s get him settled into the director’s chair first, and then start fantasizing about who it would be fun to see him collaborate with.