A Hallmark Hall of Fame production of Thomas Hardy's classic novel, handsomely staged and faithfully adapted, THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE concerns the tragic fate of a woman whose dreams outreach her destiny.
Eustacia Vye (Catherine Zeta Jones) lives with her grandfather in rustic Egdon Heath. She dreams of escaping the desolate moor and the townspeople who spurn her. Her dalliance with the roguish Damon Wildeve (Clive Owen) leads to scandal when Wildeve leaves his intended bride Thomasin (Claire
Skinner) at the altar. Wildeve wants to run off with Eustacia, but returning native Clym Yeobright (Ray Stevenson) captures her fancy. Clym has been living in Paris and working in the diamond business. Eustacia sets out to win Clym's heart and succeeds easily. Clym plans to remain in Egdon Heath
and open a school for underprivileged children. Eustacia is convinced Clym will tire of Egdon Heath and take her back with him to Paris. Clym and Eustacia marry, despite the vehement objections of Mrs. Yeobright (Joan Plowright). Eustacia's dreams are dashed when Clym partially loses his sight.
Unable to continue his studies, Clym toils in the fields. Living in a small cottage, the wife of a furze cutter, is not the life Eustacia had envisioned for herself. She is once again tempted by Wildeve's attentions. The death of Mrs. Yeobright brings further conflict between Clym and Eustacia.
They part, Eustacia returning to live with her grandfather. Months later, Clym writes a letter to Eustacia begging her to come back, but it arrives too late. Eustacia has decided to run off with Wildeve. Waiting for Wildeve in a storm, the distraught Eustacia jumps into the river and drowns. Both
Wildeve and Clym try to save her, and Wildeve loses his life in the attempt. After the tragedy, Clym remains in Egdon Heath, teaching and preaching about love, life, beauty, and truth, forever haunted by visions of his wife.
First published in 1878, The Return of the Native had never been filmed until this 1994 made-for-TV production. The all-British cast is uniformly fine. Jones is beautiful and beguiling as Hardy's doomed heroine. The story hinges upon the lure of the men she loves, and both Stevenson and Owen
measure up to the intensity and magnetism of their literary counterparts. To US audiences, the only familiar cast member is Plowright, who is splendid as Clym's mother. Filmed on location in the windswept countryside of Exmoor, England, the production boasts exquisite photography and production
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: PG
- Review: A Hallmark Hall of Fame production of Thomas Hardy's classic novel, handsomely staged and faithfully adapted, THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE concerns the tragic fate of a woman whose dreams outreach her destiny. Eustacia Vye (Catherine Zeta Jones) lives with he… (more)