Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Far From The Madding Crowd (John Schlesinger, 1967)

...out like a lamb!

What a difference a month makes! March certainly did come in like a lion -- and so did a handful of bloggers dedicated to the challenge of impromptu animal dummy-death analysis/critique for our DESTRUCTIBLE BLOG-A-THON.1!

And so, to prove we are no April Fools, The Flying Maciste Brothers welcome Springtime and bid 'adieu' to Winter with this humble offering -- multitudes of prostheticized lambs to the slaughter with this sequence from the Nicholas Roeg-lensed adaptation of Thomas Hardy's FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD.

Alan Bates plays Gabriel Oak, a farmer whose Border Collie (in this sequence) is a little something more than mischievous. Director Schlesinger --

-- known best for the once-upon-a-time X-rated MIDNIGHT COWBOY -- ingeniously employs clever day-for-night photography, shrewd staging of camera and beast, and impeccably designed sheep dummies substituted for the real veal (meat-centric poetic license) right at the crucial moments to concoct a wonderfully satisfying substitutional stew.


Later in the story, farm owner Bathsheba Everdene -- played by the eternally gorgeous Julie Christie -- encounters sheep problems of her own. To prevent all of her flock from dying of bloat, she asks the services of Oak who knows instantly what to do. Schlesinger knows what to do as well -- namely, to put that surplus of facsimilia of our lanolin-drenched friends back into use!


Waste not want not!

post © Howard S. Berger & Kevin Marr


Darrell Bratz said...

For whatever reason, when watching this several years ago, it never occurred to me that these were dummy sheep. On retrospect - well, duh. This is what makes Destructible Man such a valuable public service. Someone, like maybe Lou Reed, should cut a PSA on your behalf.

Arbogast said...

God, what a job, deflating bloated sheep. If that were a weekly series, I'd sure as shit watch it.

Pierre Fournier said...

You can't say this often, but I learned something from this film. Years ago, I visited a sheep farm and I remember thinking, hey, if the sheep blow up... I know what to do!

Arbogast said...

"Who's got a Bic pen?!