November 28, 2011 Rissi JC 10 Comments

In my house, Thomas Hardy is always associated with tales of drudgery and sorrow. Prior to seeing Under the Greenwood Tree, it didn’t seem possible that he could write something even remotely close to happiness.

Under the Greenwood Tree (2005) BBC Film Review

On a cold Christmas Eve night, the educated daughter of a penniless village man arrives in Mellstock. Growing up as a country girl, but wanting a better life for her, the girl’s father, Geoffrey (Bleak Houses’ Tom Georgeson), sends her to school. Now all grown up, Miss Fancy Day (Keeley Hawes) is only the second person to reside in this village with a proper education. Brought up a simple country boy of the town carrier, Dick Dewy (James Murray) knows nothing but Mellstock, and on this night while out caroling, he sets his eyes on Miss Day and finds himself quite enchanted.

Time passes and the two of them become friends but that all changes after a kiss. Fancy’s only objective then is to avoid Dick. Hoping to follow her father’s plans for her, she is soon courted by the wealthiest man in town, Farmer Shiner (Steve Pemberton) a simple man who is a kind sort underneath. Fancy settles into a routine of caring for her ill father and teaching while becoming part of the town’s new controversy after Parson Maybold (Ben Miles) enlists her to play their new harmonium. As Fancy struggles to become part of the small village, her desire for true love clashes with duty.

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What follows is a delightful little romantic drama that leaves us, well, feeling enchanted. I’ve not seen all of Thomas Hardys’ adaptations. Mayor of Casterbridge is a thoroughly enjoyable story, but is so sad by the end, and The Woodlanders is plain and simple, depressing. Needless to say, Under the Greenwood Tree is an interesting surprise, given its author.

Over the years, BBC has produced many wonderful films from authors like Hardy. Like anything they put out, this little charmer is no less splendid. The costumes are gorgeous; the style isn’t always as flattering as it could be, but I can’t deny that the gowns are lovely nonetheless. The scenery too is lovely, although nothing stands out quite as prominent as the Greenwood Tree, something that seems to only have significance to show time passing. It’s also fair to note that if you’ve seen Far from the Maddning Crowd, which is also by this author, the two stories are very similar. Only difference being ‘Maddening Crowd’ is darker.

The acing her is first-rate. Keeley Hawes is really quite lovely and brilliant in every role she takes on. She has a way of bringing so much life and energy to the screen. Tom Georgeson is fantastic, and it’s nice to see him in a role so unlike his character in Bleak House. I’d never seen James Murray in anything before this, but hope to see him in more costume dramas; he portrays the smitten beau well. All of the supporting cast is notable. Also, I do have to note that one of the cutest scenes shows Fancy thanking Dick for a kindness.

Under the Greenwood Tree is just a sweet period piece with something of a fairy tale vibe. It also easily works its way into my heart as an all-time favorite. Its hour and a half runtime is shorter than most of its genre, but is a good choice if you are in the mood for a taste from this genre without commitment to a four or six hour long mini series.

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You can see Under the Greenwood Tree digitally with a BritBox subscription.

‘UNDER THE GREENWOOD TREE’ (2005). A review of the charming film with Keeley Hawes. Who else enjoys this Thomas Hardy #perioddrama? #Romance #Adaptation #FWArchives Click To Tweet

Content: the only minor things worth mentioning include a few kisses. The Dewey’s make a “cider” and once the men get drunk before going to church. Fancy and Dick flirt on a few occasions, but nothing ever comes of it nor is anything implied. Everything equates to a PG-rating.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

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  • Jessica November 28, 2011 at 1:25 AM

    looks like something i'd like! cool:)

  • Livia November 28, 2011 at 3:45 AM

    I was embarrassed by the awkwardness of the characters and situations in this movie, and I also had negative reviews corrupting my opinions-I don't know why I keep reading reviews like that even before the movie!

  • Charity November 28, 2011 at 4:04 AM

    I was thinking about this film recently — I should give it a rewatch. I remember finding it entertaining when it aired, but for some reason or another it never made its way into my collection.

  • Ella November 28, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    I've heard a lot about this movie.
    Thanks for the Review!

  • Jemimah C. November 28, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    I've had "bad experiences" with Thomas Hardy ever since I read two of his books, Tess of the D'Urbervilles and The Mayor of Casterbrige. His writing style seemed too gloomy, too sad, too depressing. I wasn't so sure whether I wanted to try out another Thomas Hardy novel (or film) again, but Under the Greenwood Tree sounds quite interesting. I think I'd love to see this film!

  • Rissi November 28, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    Jessica – this is adorable; you should check it out. =)

    Livia – oh that is too bad… I thought this was one of the sweetest tales I've seen. I am sorry is wasn't enjoyable to you.

    Charity – you should! I really want to watch it again too, and since it is Christmastime and the movie takes place – at least partially during that time frame, it'd be perfect. =)

    Enjoy, if you do see it again. =)

    Ella – you are most welcome. =)

    Jemimah – I know exactly what you mean. Hardy is far too gloomy for me most the time – I have to be in the "right mood" to re-watch any of his films. Trust me, though; this movie is the total opposite. It is as if Thomas Hardy didn't even write this one. It's so sweet, it is more like Jane Austen penned it. =)

    I think you'd like this one… enjoy it! =)

  • Ruth November 30, 2011 at 7:25 PM

    I ADORE THIS FILM. The end. :)

  • Rissi November 30, 2011 at 11:40 PM

    Couldn't have said it better myself, Ruth. =D

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