NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Rebecca.

Dorset, England, 1870

The movie opens on a narration about a young woman, Bathsheba Everdeen (Carey Mulligan). It is Bathsheba herself, who says, with her parents dying when she was young, has grown accustomed to being independent.

She rides her horse around while we are introduced to a farmer, Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts). He calls her over, since he has found her scarf. We find out Bathsheba is working on her aunt's farm. Although she is technically trespassing on Gabriel's farm, he say she is welcome. She is slightly cold, but eventually seems to take a liking to him while watching him with his dogs and sheep.

Gabriel comes over to Bathsheba's aunts farm with a newborn lamb, which he gives to her. It turns out he has really come to ask if she would marry him. She rebukes him and he leaves but she runs out and says she didn't say no, and just hasn't thought about it. He talks about his farm and paying it off, having a piano, a baby, etc, and says that he will always be there for her. She doesn't want a husband though, and tells him he can do better. She eventually admits her real reason is that she is too independent and he wouldn't be able to tame her, and would grow to despise her. He denies this but still goes on his way.

Gabriel wakes up in the middle of the night to his dog whining. His sheep are chased away by his other dog and break through their pen. Gabriel comes out just in time to see his sheep fall over a cliff, to their deaths. He is in despair over the loss of his livelihood and shoots the dog responsible.

Gabriel then gives up his farm, and his other dog, and leaves. 

Bathsheba is told that her uncle has died and left everything of his to Bathsheba. She leaves with her things, including her lamb.

In the town, we see soldiers recruiting. One soldier is blown a kiss by his sweetheart. She is standing next to Gabriel, who is recruited, and encouraged by this young woman, but goes to leave to find work. She tells him to try a farm at Weatherbury, and says that she will marry her soldier soon.

Gabriel at night arrives the farm, to much yelling, as the farm is on fire. He takes charge of saving the barn, and even climbs to the roof to put out the fire. 

The next morning Gabriel is cleaning himself and meets the farmer, who turns out to be... Bathsheba! She recognizes him and gives him a job as a shepherd, feeling she owes him an immense debt. She explains the property is her inheritance and home, and where she used to live. She intends to once again make it the finest farm in the area. He assures her that their reversal in fortune does not cause him embarrassment.

Bathsheba is seen interviewing and paying her workers. One girl, the girl from earlier, Fanny Robin, is missing, having run away with a Sargent. Bathsheba dismisses her bailiff, as he was nowhere to be found during the fire. He leaves, telling the others to get out while they can. Gabriel is there too. Bathsheba asserts herself as the mistress, despite not knowing what her talents are, and that she intends to astonish them all.

Bathsheba and her companion, Liddy, go into town to sell their grains. We also are introduced to a man, who turns out to be William Boldwood. Bathsheba recognizes a friend of her uncle's who is interested in her product but tries to pay her less. They eventually agree on a price. 

Later, at church, Bathsheba keeps looking at Boldwood, who is talked up by Liddy. Bathsheba says that people always say that women jilt men, but that men jilt women. Bathsheba tells Liddy about Gabriel, who is also at church. She says she liked him, but it is impossible now.

Bathsheba is visited by Boldwood while shooting birds. They have an awkward conversation.

Liddy reads Bathsheba a Valentine's Day card she is sending as they argue who to send it to. They toss a book to decide and send it to Boldwood, as a sort of joke. 

We see the soldier, the Sargent Troy from earlier, at a church, preparing to marry Fanny. We then see Fanny, making her way all lovely and excited, as people at the church wonder where she is. Fanny goes to the wrong church, where a wedding is just beginning. Troy is told that the priest cannot wait any longer, and he cries tears of embarrassment as his best man tells him she isn't coming and the other women at the church gossip, wondering what has happened. Troy leaves in a huff.

Gabriel and the others are tending to and washing the sheep while Bathsheba watches. Gabriel says she wouldn't lend a hand, but, to applause, Bathsheba joins in.

Boldwood walks by to see Bathsheba, and sees them all with the sheep. He looks on, and smiles at Bathsheba before he is greeted by Liddy who alerts Bathsheba. 

At his place, the two talk about Boldwood's property and assets. She finds his house very beautiful. He asks her to marry him and she is stunned. She respects him but does not feel justified to accept. He says he has known disappointment before, but he would not have asked had he not been led to believe. He takes out the Valentine and she admits she should not have sent it. He tries still, but she says she has no need for a husband, no matter how honored by offer she is. She says she would like to return home. She admits she was wicked, and when he asks her to reconsider, she asks for time, which he grants.

Bathsheba walks by to see Gabriel working late sharpening tools. She has him teach her. She asks what people said about Boldwood, and they have gossiped about her being married. She asks him to contradict that, but he says he will not tell stories just to please her. She affirms she just wants him to correct the gossip and does not want his opinion, then does ask for it. He tells her she is to blame for actions unworthy of her. Leading on a man she does not love is beneath her. As a result, she asks him to leave before the end of the week but he decides to leave at once.

Bathsheba rushes over to find her sheep dying from swollen stomachs. She is told their stomachs must be pierced, but it cannot be done, as it may be done improperly. She gathers from the awkward silence that Gabriel is the only one who can save them. He is chased down and called back by one of the men, but refuses, since he would rather have her ask him. Bathsheba then herself rides to catch up with him and asks him not to desert her, but to help her. He silently agrees to do so, and she urges for him to make room on the horse, so that they may ride back together.

Gabriel tends to the sheep while Bathsheba, Liddy and others look on. The moment after he saves one sheep, it gets around and runs about, seemingly fine.

It is now beginning to b nightfall by the time all the sheep are tended to, and Bathsheba and Gabriel sit together in peaceful silence.

Bathsheba and her workers are gathered for a meal with much singing and happiness. She and Gabriel are looking at each other, but Boldwood then arrives. Bathsheba is then called upon to sing. She plays and sings the song from the trailer, Let No Man Steal Your Thyme. Boldwood is enthralled. as is Gabriel. Boldwood eventually joins in with the singing.

The two walk together. Bathsheba says she wants to thank Boldwood for not approaching her about marriage, which  he admits has not been easy. She does not wish for him to walk around the farm with her, though.

Bathsheba then trips over Sargent Troy in the dark, and they are stuck together. She asks him not to stare, but he says he has not seen a face as beautiful as hers. She says he should not be there and asks for her lamp back.

Troy is working in the fields, as pointed out to Bathsheba by Liddy, who has plenty of talk about him as well, including his full name, Francis Troy. Bathsheba goes to tell him to leave but he coyly says he cannot and she has him follow her, while Gabriel looks in. Troy brushes something off of Bathsheba and tries to talk to her about beautiful she is and kissing. She says she cannot forgive him for the things he says. She wonders if he fights as well as he speaks, and he tells her to meet him tomorrow, which she says she cannot do, even if she wants to. He tells her nobody would know, and she reiterates telling him to go. He leaves, but not before giving her a time and place to meet.

Bathsheba is anxiously sitting and checking the time. She does end up meeting Troy after all, in the woods, where he is dressed in his uniform. He asks if she trusts him, and she says she does. With his sword, which he assures her is blunt, he slashes the air about Bathsheba, and cuts off a lock of her hair. It turns out that the sword was not blunt, but he mentions he did assure her he was safe. He then kisses her and leaves her stunned after her first kiss. 

Back in her room, Bathsheba is smiling to herself. Outside, Gabriel asks to walk with her and says she should have nothing to do with Troy, as he is not a good man. Bathsheba tries to defend Troy asks what it is to him, and Gabriel says he will leave her one day, but does not want to see her go to ruin because of Troy.

Bathsheba writes to Boldwood, thanking him for being a good friend, assuring him she is honored and has given the proposal much thought, but cannot accept.

She then goes to meet with Troy, who she wasn't sure would meet her. He asks if she's ready and calls her Mrs. Bathsheba Troy. They are then seen making love in bed. When Bathsheba wakes up, we see a ring on her finger. Troy is sitting up, smoking.

Gabriel from the field sees Bathsheba and Troy riding up to the farm together and seems disappointed. At twilight, where it looks like there will be a storm, he stoops down to look at a toad, but then sees lighting.

Bathsheba and Troy are dancing inside, having a lively time. Gabriel enters. Troy tells the crowd about their meeting and marriage, and being their master now, calling a toast to Bathsheba. Gabriel interrupts to tell Bathsheba there is a storm, but Troy tells Gabriel to talk to him. He refuses any interruption of their wedding ceremony to make preparations. Bathsheba seems disappointed while Troy offers up more drinks. 

Gabriel is back outside. Inside is a much more lively and drunk crowd. Bathsheba has had enough and leaves with the other women. Gabriel is trying to make preparations to protect the rigs all by himself then, despite there being much wind and thunder, but no rain yet. Bathsheba looks out to see Gabriel, and comes out to join and help him, despite him telling her it is too dangerous. Bathsheba almost falls off the rig, but Gabriel helps and holds her and the two even have a laugh about it. It then begins to rain, but seems to have calmed otherwise.

Bathsheba then admits to Gabriel she has been a fool, having done what she swore she would never do when it comes to fawning over soldiers. He had told her about another woman though, presumably Fanny, and she says she married Troy out of jealousy then. She forbids any opinion on it though. Gabriel tells her to go to bed, since he will finish the preparations. She thanks him.

Boldwood comes by the next morning, claiming he wanted to see that Bathsheba's crops were safe. He goes to leave, saying she is lucky to have Gabriel. Gabriel points out he looks unwell and says he should go. Boldwood says he will, but then stops and mentions things have gone unwell for him. He had prepared to settle, but it was not meant to be, and is now a joke among the parish. He wishes to make clear though that there was no jilting or promising or engagement from Bathsheba. He stills feels grief though.

Bathsheba seems uneasy at night as Troy gets ready for bed. The next morning she looks out to find him play fighting a cow, and chasing birds.

There is a sort of carnival in town, where Fanny is seen cloaked and  begging. Troy loses a bet for a fight, and then sees and calls to Fanny, who he remarks is pale and shaking. She admits to him then she went to the wrong church and does not blame him, but has had a hard time. He then tells her he is married, and she tearfully admits she is beautiful, but Troy says no more than her. Fanny admits she is pregnant with Troy's child. He admits he has made a mistake but well make amends. Fanny says she swore before, but he says he means it this time. He tells her to go to the work house, just for the night, and tells her to meet him the next day on a bridge, where he will give her money, and once more assures her he will make amends.

Troy finds Bathsheba, and orders her and grabs her to get back into the carriage. He admits he does know who Fanny is, but says she is no one.

Fanny wakes up, having slept outside. She is very tired and weary walking around in the wind. In the middle of the night she makes it to her destination, but falls to the ground outside.

Troy asks Bathsheba for money, but isn't very clear about why it's needed, saying he works for it. Bathsheba tells him if he gambles more they will lose the farm and tells him the money is required for farm expenses. He angrily gets up from the breakfast table to go meet Fanny at the agreed upon bridge, but she is not there.

At the same time, two men though bring the coffin of Fanny Robbin to the farm, as she was her uncle's servant, and that was her last dwelling place. Bathsheba wants her brought inside and to be treated with respect. Gabriel rubs out the part on the coffin about her child. Bathsheba and Liddy talk about Fanny, and Bathsheba admits she has been crying a lot lately, despite having not cried before really. Liddy tries to get Bathsheba to go to bed with her, but Bathsheba refuses and says goodnight to Liddy.

Bathsheba looks at the coffin and sees the part about the child rubbed out. She looks inside the coffin and is distraught to see a baby in the coffin. Troy walks in and sees Fanny and the baby as well. He goes to kiss them, but Bathsheba tells him not to, since she is still his wife. Troy tells her Fanny, despite being dead, is and forever will be more to him, and that Bathsheba is nothing to him. She storms out.

Troy goes, in uniform, to the beach. He then takes off his uniform to go for a swim.

At a sales event, Bathsheba is told her husband has drowned. She goes home to her room to find a package, which contains Troy's uniform.

Gabriel is approached by Boldwood to also tend to his farm, and has even brought him his old dog. Gabriel assures him he will have his decision soon, but seems set to stay and help Bathsheba.

Bathsheba says Gabriel is getting on in the world and tells him he ought to accept and rise in status. She tells him if her farm is lost, there will be no work for him. Despite his loyalties, she tells him she will not hold him down and sends him.

Boldwood and Bathsheba are discussing Troy's debts, but Bathsheba does not wish to accept money. He tells her he will take care of her to run her farm and pay off the debts. When she is ready, they can be married. He tells her she must at least admire his persistence. He asks if she likes or respects him, but she says it is difficult to explain her feelings. He tells her if she is worried about marrying him out of guilt, pity and compromise, he does not mind.

Bathsheba and Gabriel are talking about how she must give his response by Christmas. She admits she holds Boldwood's future and sanity in her hands. She seems tired of love when he asks if she cares for Boldwood. She says she is asking Gabriel since he is indifferent, but he tells her she is asking the wrong man then.

It is winter, and around Christmastime. Bathsheba is thinking over the matter in church. Boldwood, who is sitting next to Gabriel, makes eye contact with her.

At Boldwood's place, Gabriel is there to help set up for a Christmas party. Boldwood wants to know if people will come, especially Bathsheba. Gabriel thinks she will. Boldwood is so nervous he is shaking. When Boldwood asks about fashionable knots and promises, Gabriel tries to say he is the wrong man, but Boldwood asks if Bathsheba will do what is right, and he and Gabriel discuss if Bathsheba will marry him. Boldwood shows Gabriel a ring for Bathsheba, explaining he is telling him in advance since he knows Gabriel likes her and Bathsheba has affection for him. Boldwood is grateful to him for being a kind rival. 

Troy, it turns out, is alive! He shows up to Bathsheba's room under cover of darkness to see his uniform there hanging up .

Bathsheba indeed comes to the party. There is much dancing, but she sits off to the side, and looks at Gabriel talking to others. He excuses himself to go talk to her, and say goodnight, but she tells him to go finish talking to those women. They agree how this is not the kind of party they like, and she too wishes she could leave. Boldwood comes over to insist they dance with each other before Gabriel leaves. Boldwood and Liddy look on.

While dancing, Bathsheba asks Gabriel what she should do, and he tells her to do what is right. She excuses herself then to go outside, and finds Troy arriving, with his uniform on. He tells her black suits her, though it is premature. He says he is was pulled from the sea, by fishermen who found him. He found out he was thought to be dead, and admits he prefers it that way. He says he comes back since he missed her, but that she doesn't look very happy to see him. She reminds him he called her nothing, and he admits he needs money, and it is harsh that he gave up his profession for her, and insists she sells the farm. He tries to get her to go home with her, and becomes angry and violent. Boldwood comes out and shoots Troy dead.

Boldwood is sent to prison. 

Gabriel is at Boldwood's home, now that the excitement is over and all is quiet. He sees gifts and clothes for Bathsheba, with the name Bathsheba Boldwood on them, as well as jewelry and effects, which she asks to see. Gabriel tells her Boldwood's life will be spared, as a crime of passion.

We next see scenes of spring, with many working in the fields of what is surely a successful farm. Bathsheba is told it is the finest harvest in years.

Gabriel is walking about the cemetery when he sees Bathsheba tidying up and tending to graves. He tells her he is going to rehearsal, since he sings bass in the choir. He says he wishes to talk to her, since he has not spoken to her as much as he liked. He tells her he is leaving England for America, in 4 days. He says he should give her notice now that the farm is secure, but she tells him to go when he wishes. He thinks it best to leave first thing tomorrow, with no fuss. 

Bathsheba is in bed but dresses once she hears Gabriel leaving. His dog is whining and Liddy seems anxious. Bathsheba suddenly runs out and mounts her horse to chase after Gabriel! She finally catches up to him and calls for him to wait. She knows it might seem strange but worries she has offended him or that he has not enough money or wants a partnership. He tells her it is none of this, and reminds her he said he would leave her one day. She begs and forbids him not to leave, but he tells her it is time for her to fight and win her own battles, and she realizes it is time for them to say goodbye. She tells him to wait though and thanks him for believing in, fighting for and standing by her when no one else would. She reminds him they've been through so much together and were each other's first sweethearts and now have to go on without each other. She tells him he never knows because he never asks. She laughs she would probably say no again, but tells him to ask we again.

At Bathsheba urging him to ask her again, Gabriel kisses her quite passionately. They walk hand and hand together, leading the horse back to Bathsheba's farm.

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