Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Movie Review: Under the Greenwood Tree

Under the Greenwood Tree is based on a book by Thomas Hardy. I haven't read it, yet, but I have thoroughly enjoyed two of his novels (Far from the Madding Crowd and The Return of the Native).[1] The title comes from Shakespeare's As You Like It, Act II, scene v. It is a snippet of a song sung by the character Amiens. As nearly as I could tell, the title has absolutely nothing to do with the plot of the novel. In reference to the title, the film features several extended shots of a tree with its limbs blowing in the wind. But nothing ever happens under it. It was just filler material. So I was very careful in choosing the picture I would display with this post. I wanted it to capture the relative importance of that oft-overlooked character, the greenwood tree.

My verdict: It felt rushed. As a result the characters weren't very well developed. Interpersonal relationships shifted every five minutes or so, making it hard to take any of them at face value. I think it would've fared better as a miniseries, such as the BBC production of Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit.[2] At the end, the schoolmistress chooses between her several suitors. But really I didn't feel like any of them were worth their salt. Hopefully the book is better-written and has characters that are fleshed out better.


[1] I have mixed feelings about the other book of his that I've read (Tess of the d'Urbervilles).

[2] In fact, we spent the entire movie under the false impression that the main actress was Claire Foy (the actress who played Little Dorrit), just a few years older. It turned out that she was Keeley Hawes, instead.

Image attributions:

Bonsai (greenwood) Tree is by CK, Carl, Carlo, Carlito and is available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/09traveler/1324756576/.

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