With her dimples and doe eyes, Carey Mulligan looks like a honest-to-god angel, which may be why she’s such an interesting choice to play the strong-willed and independent Bathsheba Everdene, the feminist heroine of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd.
Tough, entrepreneurial, and self-reliant enough to inspire Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins (who named her protagonist Katniss Everdeen partly after her), Bathsheba, the owner of her own sheep farm, hesitates to marry, fearing the loss of her freedom.
Not that you’d learn any of those fundamental facts about her from the teaser trailer for the new adaptation of Hardy’s novel. Mulligan sings throughout about “let[ing] no man steal your time,” but only men — her three suitors and a minister — get to speak. They tell Mulligan’s Bathsheba that they want to protect her and love her and marry her, and it appears she is convinced by (at least) one of them. But it’s hard to care who she chooses if the only thing I can glean about her from the trailer is that she’s very pretty. And it’s not like Hardy’s novel is a familiar-enough text to most American moviegoers that Bathsheba’s headstrongness would be a given.
Whoever cut this trailer seems to be in denial about who’s going to be the primary audience for this movie (women) and who they’re going to primarily focus on and identify with (the woman). By reducing Bathsheba to a silent object to be admired by menfolk, this teaser is a prime example of how not to market a movie. And if this 90-second spot actually turns out to be an accurate reflection of the adaptation — i.e., the men take over the plot and Bathsheba is reduced to a thing to be fought over — well, then you’ve lost me completely as an audience member.
Hopefully the studio can cut a better ad for the film before its US release on May 1, 2015.