Plot: In 1870 Victorian England, Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) is working on her aunt's farm in Dorset. Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a new neighbor, sees Bathsheba riding her horse and falls in love with her. He proposes, but the headstrong Bathsheba declines, saying she is too independent. One night a new sheepdog chases Gabriel's entire flock off a cliff. He settles his debts and is left penniless. He leaves in search of work. In contrast, Bathsheba inherits a farm from her uncle and leaves to take charge of it. While Gabriel is at a fair trying to find employment, local soldiers attempt to recruit him and other townsmen. A young girl, Fanny Robin, notices him and points out one of the soldiers, Sergeant Frank Troy, her sweetheart. She suggests Gabriel seek employment at a farm in Weatherbury. Gabriel arrives to find several buildings on fire and saves the barn from destruction. At dawn the next day he is introduced to the farm's new mistress: Bathsheba. She hires him as a shepherd. In the meantime, Fanny goes to the wrong church for her wedding and Troy, apparently jilted, is devastated..
Alternative Plot: A headstrong Victorian beauty (Carey Mulligan) has her choice of three different suitors: a sheep farmer (Matthias Schoenaerts), a dashing soldier (Tom Sturridge) and a prosperous, older bachelor (Michael Sheen).