Australian Council on Children and the Media

Far from the Madding Crowd

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Not recommended under 13; parental guidance 13-15 (themes and disturbing scenes of death and animal distress).

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Far from the Madding Crowd
  • a review of Far from the Madding Crowd completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 15 June 2015.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to themes and disturbing scenes of death and animal distress
Children aged 13 to 15 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and disturbing scenes of death and animal distress

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Far from the Madding Crowd
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes and sex scene
Length 118 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

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

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

Bathsheba is now tempted to marry William Boldwood who promises to clear the debts caused by Troy. However, unexpected events lead to a different outcome.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

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

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Gabriel shoots a dog (not actually shown on screen but you see him fire the gun).
  • A boxing match is shown with men heavily punching each other. They have blood on their faces.
  • Troy yells at Bathsheba and physically moves her into a carriage.
  • Troy loses his temper when Bathsheba refuses to give him some money, yells at her and storms out.
  • Boldwood shoots a man dead.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  •  A sheepdog herds a flock of sheep to the edge of a cliff and they all fall over. Some are seen falling and they are all shown dead on the beach. Gabriel cries and shouts in grief when he sees the dead sheep.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

A fire destroys several barns on the farm. Gabriel, thinking that Bathsheba might be inside the house, douses himself in water, climbs a ladder and tries to break through the roof with an axe but finds no one inside.

  • Sheep are shown lying on the ground sick and dying. Gabriel has to stab one in the stomach with a knife to release gas.
  • Gabriel and Bathsheba have to cover the bales of hay in a thunderstorm. It’s raining and quite scary. Bathsheba almost falls off the ladder when a particularly loud thunderclap and lightning bolt strike.
  • Troy practises his sword fighting aiming it at a cow. He chases a flock of geese in anger.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

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

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

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

Product placement

None

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some partial nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

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

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Drinking at various events.
  • Troy supplies plenty of drink to the farm workers who all get quite drunk.
  • Smoking of cigars, and Troy smokes a cigarette.

Coarse language

None of concern

In a nutshell

Far from the Madding Crowd is a period drama based on the well-known Thomas Hardy novel. It is set in beautiful locations in the south of England, is a good retelling of the original story and is very well acted. It will have quite wide appeal and will interest teenagers who may be studying the book at school. Disturbing themes, and scenes of death and animal distress make it unsuitable for children under 13, with parental guidance recommended for the 13 to 15 age group.

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

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • independence
  • determination
  • Bathsheba’s desire to not be seen as an adornment for a man

Parents may wish to discuss what is shown about the treatment of women, for example:

  • Why wouldn’t the men buy Bathsheba’s grain?
  • Why did men feel that women needed ‘protecting’?
  • How is the situation of women different today?

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