1967 saw Julie Christie and Terence Stamp immortalised by The Kinks in Waterloo Sunset and cast as lovers in Thomas Hardy’s epic love story. Headstrong and independent, farmer Bathsheba Everdene is among the most modern of 19th-century heroines and Christie’s performance beautifully underlines her as a woman at odds with the conventions of the time.
Bathsheba unexpectedly inherits a large farm in rural Dorset. Struggling to manage it herself, she captivates the hearts and minds of three very different men: an honest and hardworking sheep farmer, a wealthy but tortured landowner, and a reckless and violent swordsman. But as emotions become entangled, free spirited and innocent folly soon leads to devastating tragedy.
The film contains a number of stand-out set-pieces, such as Stamp’s seductive, almost Freudian display of swordsmanship. But what resonates so deeply is the way in which Schlesinger and cinematographer Nicolas Roeg frame the passions and tragedy at the film’s heart against the patterns of rural life and the harsh, sodden beauty of the Dorset landscape.
Almost 50 years on, this restoration reveals the film as an immersive piece of cinema with Hardy’s cruel ironies and bleak lyricism fully intact.