Friday, December 17, 2010

Still Under the Greenwood Tree

What were the circumstances that led me to my current read? Every year the Washington Revels stage an incredible winter production--and this year, the performance is based on Under the Greenwood Tree (discussed on Wednesday).  One of our favorite annual tradition is attending the Revels with our friends and seeing community members (including several of our young friends) sing and dance on the stage.

The Mellstock Band
The Revels performance is not a direct adaptation of the entire novel.  Instead it is a celebration of the Winter Solstice, complete with singing and dancing (including Morris dancing!), which is set in Hardy's world and which has many references to and echoes of Hardy's novel.  For a sample of a Revels performance, check out this short video of the Cambridge Revels performing their version of the same show:

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My family also enjoyed the 2005 BBC adaptation of Under the Greenwood Tree, (currently on Netflix instant-watch).  The plotline in the film adaptation revolves less around the experiences of the musicians and more around the love story between the Fancy Day and her suitors.  Fancy is much more likable in the adaptation than she is in the novel.

The BBC production was filmed on location in the stunningly beautiful Channel Islands. As the story progresses, we see the seasons pass and the landscape change. The scenery alone could make this a show to watch.

I was also quite taken with the filmmakers' ability to show enormous sexual tension between characters through the very subtle displays that would have been the norm at the time of the story. Suffice it to say that this movie contains the sexiest handwashing scene I have ever viewed. And for those who love Colin Firth's lake scene in Pride and Prejudice, just wait until you see the ending of this film!


  1. Both of the 'water' scenes (hand washing & river one) were definitely sexy! Interesting that the book has more to it than the adaptation; perhaps I'll go for the book as well then.

  2. There is definitely more emphasis on the choir in the book than the movie--and less on the love story. I think going from the movie to the book makes that seem almost disappointing--but it really isn't once you get into it. The story of the change in the status of the community musicians is melancholy even as the love story lightens things up.

  3. Morris dancing! That sounds absolutely wonderful.

    You've got me curious about both the book and the BBC adaptation.

  4. The Revels shows are great fun. And Morris dancing, surprisingly, is a huge tradition in the town where I live. (My son even dressed as a Morris dancer for Halloween a few years ago.)

    I do hope you check out the book. It is atypical for Hardy, but a nice read.

  5. It's fun to know why you read what you read! I'm not sure my reading ever has such a solid inspiration. I'll have to check out one of the two...either the book or the adaptation.

  6. My reading often has traceable reasons, but not always. Hope you enjoy the Hardy. It really is a pleasant read.

  7. I'm a huge Hardyphile, and actually just finished reading the last of his minor novels in August. I love reading Under the Greenwood Tree during the Christmas season. Somehow it just seems so perfect. I also highly recommend Hardy's poetry, it is truly amazing stuff! Cheers! Chris


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