Sunday, November 30, 2008

Under the Greenwood Tree

I paid a quick visit to my library today and while browsing through the DVD rack came across a BBC title I had never heard of before. Since it was a historical piece and was actually close-captioned (not all BBC productions are) I decided to give it a try. I'm quite glad I did because I spent a good deal of the 90 minute film chuckling over the humorous incidents that pervade the film.

Under the Greenwood Tree is the story of Miss Fancy Day, a school teacher who comes to a small town and finds herself wooed by a wealthy farmer, the parson, and a humble carrier boy. She is forced to choose between what is proper- and what she knows will bring her happiness.

But lest this sound cliche- there are some other elements that make this film more than your usual "follow your heart" film. For one, all three suitors are given depth and character. The wealthy farmer, though physically the least attractive, is a kind and gentle man despite his gruff exterior.

Also the film has a genuine sense of "community"- the whole town is allowed to participate in the story, giving it a background and texture that many such stories lack. There is an amusing musical subplot to add further humor to the mix.

Though filmed on a low budget the film is decently crafted, with attention paid to the beauty of the place and not merely the story. It is tied neatly together though my guess is that the book holds more in it's pages than there was time to portray on screen. Or perhaps not- since BBC is known for its accurate adaptations.

Whatever the matter, it is a clean, fun story that fans of Jane Austen and the like will enjoy. With a bit more grit, grim and music than the typical Austen tale!

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