Our countryside, in this adaptation of Bruce Chatwin's novel which crams 80 years into less than two hours, hasn't looked so ravishingly lovely since Far From the Madding Crowd. Hardy, without his overview, crops up a bit in Chatwin's characters too, with Amos Jones (Peck), a stubbly and splenetic son of the soil, belonging to the same bloodline as the Mayor of Casterbridge ('wrong-headed as a buffalo'), and further enraged by being a Welsh tenant on marcher land. His tender courtship of English middle class Mary (Jones) leads to a miserable marriage. They rent a farm, he's out in all weathers, and only fiddle-playing granddad (Walters) provides much companionship for gifted Mary. Twins are born (Mike and Robert Gwilym) who prove constitutionally inseparable, World War I conscription and the possibilities of romance notwithstanding. Amos feuds irreconcilably with his neighbour, and dies regretting his expulsion of a pregnant daughter. The bachelor twins celebrate their 80th birthday with a flight over the terrain they have toiled so long upon. Grieve's film may portray baffled lives in which chances of joy are stifled by a mixture of stiff-necked pride and chapel religion, but it is the look of it all you remember.
On the Black Hill
Cast and crew