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Review: Under the Greenwood Tree (2005)

Directed by: Nick Laughland | 95 minutes | , romance | Actors: , , , , Robert Penny, , , , , Ellie Thackeray, , , , Tom Georgeson,

Under The Greenwood Tree is the third adaptation of ’s novel of the same name. The earlier screen adaptations date from 1918 and 1929. Hardy, like the well-known Jane Austen, is considered one of the greatest writers of English literature.

The 2005 adaptation of ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ starts slightly poetically; you first see bare tree branches supported with a classic theme . The bare branches belong to a large imposing tree that clearly indicates winter time. The atmosphere of ‘Under The Greenwood Tree’ quickly becomes more cheerful and festive in tone when after these images you end up in the cheerful household of the Dewey . On Christmas , the Dewey family and the church choir enjoy the home-brewed apple cider. After a few drinks, the men of the group decide to go into the village and play Christmas carols. The snow and cold do not discourage them in the least. They first visit the wealthy landowner Shiner and sing under his bedroom window. Shiner does not appreciate the nightly singing and throws a bucket of water over them. The second stop of the church choir is more successful. The gentlemen sing in front of Reverend Maybold’s and Miss Fancy Day’s homes; the new resident of Mellstock. She has moved to take care of her sick father. Fancy opens her window and thanks the men. At the sight of Fancy, Dick Dewey falls madly in love. He remains as if petrified, while the rest of the choir continues further into the village. Fancy is also attracted to Dick, but she also has admirers in Shiner and Maybold. Fancy’s father hopes she will marry a rich man so that he can have a good old age. Fancy feels torn. Should she listen to her heart or should she trust her common sense? She has moved to take care of her sick father. Fancy opens her window and thanks the men. At the sight of Fancy, Dick Dewey falls madly in love. He remains as if petrified, while the rest of the choir continues further into the village. Fancy is also attracted to Dick, but she also has admirers in Shiner and Maybold. Fancy’s father hopes she will marry a rich man so that he can have a good old age. Fancy feels torn. Should she listen to her heart or should she trust her common sense? She has moved to take care of her sick father. Fancy opens her window and thanks the men. At the sight of Fancy, Dick Dewey falls madly in love. He remains as if petrified, while the rest of the choir continues further into the village. Fancy is also attracted to Dick, but she also has admirers in Shiner and Maybold. Fancy’s father hopes she will marry a rich man so that he can have a good old age. Fancy feels torn. Should she listen to her heart or should she trust her common sense? but she also has admirers in Shiner and Maybold. Fancy’s father hopes she will marry a rich man so that he can have a good old age. Fancy feels torn. Should she listen to her heart or should she trust her common sense? but she also has admirers in Shiner and Maybold. Fancy’s father hopes she will marry a rich man so that he can have a good old age. Fancy feels torn. Should she listen to her heart or should she trust her common sense?

The cast of ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ does not disappoint. The chemistry between Dick and Fancy is serenely portrayed by James Murray (TV series ‘Cutting It’) and Keeley Hawes (TV series ‘Spooks’). Murray puts the passionate Dick nice and bright. However, Hawes plays timidly, which is part of Fancy. Only when Hawes’ character really gets into trouble and has to make a final choice, does the actress gain momentum. Ben Miles (TV series ‘Coupling’) gives shape to Reverend Maybold and knows how to put the reverend on the path of love unforced. The character Shiner is played by Steve Pemberton (‘The League of Gentlemen’), who portrays the landowner in a delightfully mocking way.

Under the Greenwood Tree does not look out of place among the other successful adaptations of the BBC. But you should not expect a strong variant of, for example, BBC’s adaptation of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ from 1995, because then you will be disappointed. The film adaptation of Hardy’s novel is rather tame in terms of game and story. Yet the true romantics will certainly get their money’s worth at ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’. The beautiful images ensure that. One example of this is when the lovelorn Dick stops, staring at Fancy’s window and the snowflakes whirl around him.

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