Wednesday, March 6, 2013

North and South Review

"Reckon I'll leave my brains at home, then."
~Nicholas Higgins, episode four

Where do I begin?

I'm hesitant to write this review because I know so many of you adore North and South.  In period drama-loving-circles, it seems to be one of the best-loved stories in the history of the BBC.  I mean, the movie has everything.  Romantic tension.  Political tension.  Familial tension.  Tension between friends.   (Hmmm, do I spot a theme?  Should we maybe rename the movie Lots of Stress and Practically Everyone Dies?)  It's a sweeping story.  It's tearjerking.  It's giggle-worthy (though not as much as some other period dramas I could name... Emma, anyone?).  It's passionate.  It's fascinating.  And I really do like it.

Just not as much as I feel I ought to.

It's not my favorite period drama.  It's not even on my top five list.  Maybe top ten, but maybe not.  ( don't particularly like making lists.)  And so I'm afraid I may offend some of you with this review, because I know some of you love this movie much more than I do.  So please, take my silly ramblings with a grain of salt.  Let me give my take on N&S, and if you so desire, feel free to leave yours in the comment box.  But hey, it's a free country, and you may laugh as much as you chuse, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion.

Anyways.  We shall proceed.

Oh, and as usual, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.  Proceed with caution.

I'm reviewing my second viewing of North and South, you must understand, and I must say I'm glad it's my second time around.  Because if I'd written this after my first viewing, I wouldn't have looked on Margaret so favorably as I do now.  But now I've read the book twice and seen the movie twice, and Margaret has jumped far higher in my estimation since my first encounter with her.   Daniela Denby-Ashe might not look like the Margaret described in the book, but I think she fits the part perfectly.  Unfortunately there are some parts in the movie (most notably Mr. Thornton's first proposal and that early scene where she wouldn't shake his hand) where she seems like a real snob, but I think that can really only be blamed on the page-to-screen transition.  Margaret's emotions are vividly expressed in the book, while the movie can only show so much of what she's thinking and feeling.  And the book does say that Margaret has a haughty appearance, so we can forgive Daniela Denby-Ashe for looking a bit snobby at certain times.  

I love how she's not as drop-dead gorgeous as some other period drama heroines I could name.  She's certainly beautiful, but not in a particularly stunning way.  Margaret strikes me as being a very normal heroine, and I like that.  She doesn't do anything particularly stupendous in the course of the story (other than pulling an Eponine during the riot scene...) and she stays at home and takes care of her family.  On the surface, she might actually seem a bit boring.  Yet, polite and genteel as she may be, she also knows her own mind and isn't afraid to speak up about something that bothers her.  She's the kind of heroine who matures and changes as the story unfolds, and that's my favorite kind of protagonist.

Richard Armitage is Mr. Thornton.   The End.  No one else could ever play the part to perfection the way he does.  North country accent, check.  Tall, dark and handsome, check.  Middle-distance smolder, check.  Manages to make the character tremendously likable despite his many flaws, check.  

Yes, I just said "many flaws."  I know Mr. Thornton has a huge fan following, but let's be honest: he's not perfect.  The man has a decent amount of pride and a pretty hot temper: he's actually rather brutal in that first scene in the factory.  (And yes, I realize that Stephens could have burnt the whole factory down and Mr. Thornton had a right to be furious, but throwing him to the ground and kicking him?  That's going a bit too far.)  Sure, we get to know him better as the story moves along, and I firmly believe that he actually changes a bit after he meets Margaret, but he's no Mr. Knightley.  *ducks and covers head*  I know I'm going to get some flak for this, but... well, I've never been afraid of opinionated comments.  *rubs hands gleefully*  Bring it on, ladies.  I have a caps lock too, you know.  

Humor aside, I really do like Mr. Thornton.  No, I mean that.  I do.  He's a great guy and his character and integrity are hard to match.  I feel awful for him during the failed proposal scene.  I admire him for refusing to speculate and risk hurting hundreds of employees.  He's a wonderful character... but I'm just not as impressed as I probably ought to be.  Maybe it's the fact that he's a little heavy on the melodrama.   I do my share of melting at the "Nobody cares for me except you, Mother" line, but when you think about it, he does come across as a bit... angsty.  And all the staring into the middle distance and here-comes-the-smoldering is well and good, but it gets old.  

And this picture cracks me up.  Just saying.

Nicholas and Bessy Higgins are two of my favorite characters in the movie-- they're much more likable than they are in the book.  In the book, Nicholas comes across as a bit of a loutish oaf--at least at first--who has no interests beyond going to the pub and stirring up trouble between the workers and the mill owners.  In the movie, he's a caring and compassionate father who truly wants to do what's best for his own family and for his coworkers, with as little trouble as possible.  Some people say Nicholas is the real hero of N&S.  I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say he replaces Mr. Thornton (for all my fun-poking, I really do think he's a great hero), but Nicholas certainly has an awful lot of heroic qualities.  He's a bit rough around the edges, but his heart is, as they say, in the right place.  (I've heard that expression a hundred times, but never yet heard it said of a mean person that his heart was in the wrong place... just saying.)  He takes in Boucher's children after Boucher's death (um, you didn't think there wouldn't be spoilers, right?) and doesn't brag about it to anyone.  Even after it's a certain thing that Mr. Thornton's going to lose his mill, Nicholas stays after hours and does extra work because it needs to be done.

Bessy Higgins is much more pleasant in the movie as well.  Maybe it's just because I grew up on Elsie Dinsmore and have had it up to here with brain-fevered, patiently-suffering heroines, but Bessy's character in the book drove me nuts.  Yes, yes, it's wonderful that you're dying of TB and thinking of nothing but heaven, but if you could stop gushing about it every other minute in a dialect nobody can understand without a glossary at the back, we'd appreciate it, thankyouverymuch and have a nice day.  Bessy in the movie has a bit more backbone and a sense of humor.  She's still sickly, but that's not her fault (and to be fair, it's not the book-Bessy's fault either).   Bessy's death is probably the most heartbreaking part of the whole movie.  My sisters and I joke that Elizabeth Gaskell stories could all be renamed Funeral Parade, and N&S is no exception.  Is it really necessary to have someone die in every episode?  (actually I don't think anyone dies in the first episode... but Margaret, that is NOT the POINT.)

Mrs. Thornton... is amazing.  I liked her from the start, which was a change from the book because I don't like her very much in the book at all.  She's so courageous in the movie, such a strong person, and even though she's not exactly kind to everyone at first meeting, you get the feeling right away that you're looking at a heroine of sorts.  Without her, Mr. Thornton wouldn't be the man he is.  Without her, Fanny might be a billion times worse (perish the thought).  One of my favorite lines of hers is when she says that if Margaret had accepted Mr. Thornton's first proposal, she would have tried to love her for his sake.  Talk about a sacrifice--she hates Margaret! But, after all, "a mother's love holds fast and forever. A girl's love is like a puff of smoke - it changes with every wind."

Speaking of Fanny Thornton-- this girl is hilarious.  She provides some much-needed comic relief (N&S is probably the most somber of all Elizabeth Gaskell's works) and she has some of the most quotable lines in the movie.  "London and the Alhambra.  They are the two places I long to see."  "Believe me, I almost fainted! I thought they were going to knock down the door and murder us all!"  And I love how Mr. Thornton shuts her up every time.  "You were in no danger."  Anne-girl and I agree that the best part in the whole movie is when she's playing the piano upstairs and Mr. Thornton comes in, gets his coat, and looks skyward for just an instant as Fanny caterwauls.  How he (and his mother) ever put up with her for twenty-something years is a mystery beyond human comprehension.

Oh, and while we're talking about fun characters we mustn't forget dear Ann Latimer.  Do not underestimate Ann Latimer.    It takes a great deal of wit and fortitude to communicate only by blinking, you know.  And the occasional nod.

Also Henry Lennox.  Poor Henry Lennox.  Doomed to be the character nobody likes simply by dint of being the guy nobody wants to marry.  He and Ann Latimer should get together.  He can teach her how to talk and she can teach him how to smile.

Rambling on, rambling on... let's see, what next?  Favorite scenes, perhaps?  I love the part where Margaret bumps into the Thorntons at the exhibition.  Tension, snobbery, Mr. Thornton getting the better of everyone, Henry being annoying and of course Fanny being hilarious. As usual.  "Ugh.  John is such a stick in the mud."

I usually get a bit annoyed when characters misunderstand each other in books and movies, but oddly enough I don't get irritated in N&S, even when John and Margaret are behaving so coldly toward each other after Frederick's mysterious visit.  Perhaps this is because I'm comparing the movie to the book (it's obsessive-compulsive, I can't help it!), and if it is, there's a good reason.  The misunderstandings and the tension and the Orczy-worthy mental anguish sloshing around in the book are wondrous to behold, and by the time Mr. Thornton finally finds out the truth about Margaret's brother, the poor reader is too exhausted to appreciate the fact.  It seems that everything that could happen to prevent Mr. Thornton from finding out Margaret's innocence of wrongdoing DOES happen in the book, and it's a nice change of pace when Nicholas just randomly springs the news about Frederick on him in the movie.  (Did that paragraph make any sense?)

And... here we are.  The ending scene.  Also known as the Northbound Train scene.   The scene that well may be the most famous period drama ending ever.  It's beautiful, it's romantic, it's a perfect finale to a splendid miniseries, and IT DRIVES ME INSANE THAT MR. THORNTON'S SHIRT IS UNBUTTONED.  The fact that they're kissing in public makes me want to pull my hair out too.  But the shirt collar is worse.  No, no, no, no and no.  A gentleman of Mr. Thornton's status and prestige wouldn't have been caught dead outside without his cravat, whether or not the love of his life was passing in another train.  It just wouldn't have happened, okay?  Ugh.

There, now I've had a good rant and temporarily quelled my desire to put a Post-it note on the TV screen over the offending collar the next time I see the movie.

Griping aside, it really is a lovely scene, and does justice to the scene in the book-- dare I say I even like it better?  But the whole thing would be so much nicer without Henry messing it all up.  If he didn't have to be there at the end, it would all be so much more romantical.  Oh, well, at least Margaret didn't follow through with her threat of needing Henry to help explain her business proposition.  If Henry had helped to explain, I think the story might have ended rather differently.

Don't you?

I give N&S four out of five stars.  It's not my favoritest of favorite period dramas, but I do truly like it. And after all, I can't help the fact that I don't appreciate it as much as some people do.  I suppose it is because I am not musical and have never read The Alhambra.

P.S. North and South is available for purchase on Amazon, in case that is news to anyone, and if you click on that there link just below to purchase it, Amazon sends me money in exchange for pointing you in their general direction. Just sayin'.


Livia Rachelle said...

I made myself read the book before watching the movie, so I am stuck on the book. I love to think about both because this is soooo much deeper than Jane Austen (I love her books, but I am starting to gets sick of hearing about them, and I am reaching the conclusion that I hate Emma). I am serious; I think this book is somewhat of a realist novel, and it presents the same sort of transition from hand labour to the new mills evidenced in Shirley. The North and South, modern and traditional, money versus birth and education. Seriously, every time I even get a glimpse of bits of the movie I want to go on and on with my thoughts on the thinking in this book. Sooooo much gets lost in translation from movie to page. The manners (although I think Margaret was supposed to be a wee bit snobby), the class and social differences (Nicholas and Bessie are presented much more cultured and much too much in the movie), the thoughts and attitudes (the movie made Margaret seem as if she like Mr. Thorton all along-her pouty lip look did not present the dignified Margaret of the boo)etc. I felt that Mr. Thornton would never have lost his temper in such a way and I think someone said if he had Margaret would never have spoken to him. He was moody and agnsty in the book, but he wasn't a brute. I love Richard Armitage so that is part of way I sort of like Thorton (actually seeing that he played him was the whole reason I read the book to watch the movie). I love his accent (he really adds to the northernishness); I love his mothers accent-although I hate her guts. I like Margaret's clothes although they were nothing fancy. Speaking of clothes and your comment on Mr. Elton. I have been to several JA festivals which involves regency fashions some few decades earlier; men without their COATS were considered naked (in what light does this now place poor Mr. Darcy-no wonder he asked Lizzy-I now know how to spell it-about her family twice!). I assume this idea had some meaning still in this period to at least some level of undress. And in JA times no one kissed in public and I am sure this applied, but I usually don't mind except that the movie made Henry a creep and he watched it! I felt that Henry was not portrayed fairly and I don't think he was treated fairly or fully in the book either. I hated that they perverted her godfather in the movie to propose to her-how awkward and disgusting! I also felt that they did not properly portray the move, the reasons, and Mrs. Hale's reaction. Sorry for the rambling comment. I am sure I could go and might even come back. I am just drawn to this story; it is sooo very complex. It was written seriously unlike JA books.

Livia Rachelle said...

See I knew I would be back, but not so soon. Mr. Thornton was NOT a gentleman-he was a tradesmen, hence Margaret's and his misunderstanding of each other...oh, my I could go on and on about all these complexities. I have hand written something like at least two words; I should do a blog series.

Melody said...

Ohh, ooh, mee MEEE! (that was in answer to your "Emma, anyone?" :P)

Heehee... it's funny how you don't particularly like making lists, with how often you do bring it up. ;D

Yay, you've picked up on the laugh as much as you choose quote! I do so love that quote. And that it shows how Jane can be amusing. ;)

Actually in some ways, I think Daniela DOES fit the description in the book.

Pulling an Eponine, indeed. She did it because it was her fault he was in danger and NOT because she loved him, remember?

Noooo. Richard Armitage does NOT get Mr. Thornton to perfection. *glares* He is more stern and cold-ish, and not as... nice. Like, I like how in the book he actually does give Margaret a chance to explain herself, instead of interrupting her, and later not letting Mr. Bell tell him about it. Grrr. That annoyed me so much.

Never been afraid of opinionated comments... wow. You know, there are lots of was in which you are not like me. Hahahaha.

But Mr. Thornton is not a favorite hero of mine, though I do like him. I agree with you on all that. ;)

I'll have to remember to say somebody's heart is in the wrong place sometime... heehee...

Hahahaha, I agree with you about Bessy. ;) Well, except perhaps a little less extreme in all directions, but that's kind of how we tend to be, isn't it? (Unless it's a topic I'm particularly animated about. Which happens. *cough*)

Erm... I don't like Mrs. Thornton. She annoys me a lot. Sure, she's done good things and has her good points... but she's so RUDE. And it was prejudiced of her to hate Margaret. If she'd not been against her to start with, it wouldn't be so much of a sacrifice to try to like her for his sake. (It was like, not love, BTW. :P)

Ha, I remember the first time I saw the exhibition scene I wanted Mr. Thornton to make some sort of Look (startled or something, you know) when he saw Margaret, but instead he pretty much pretended not to see her and then randomly addressed her. :P

The poor reader is too exhausted to appreciate the fact AND Mrs. Gaskell does not do her DUTY and make a big deal out of it. Harrumph.

HAHAHA, I've never heard you talk before about the unbuttoned shirt, but (shock of shocks) I totally agree. ;)

Eh, it might have been kind of funny if Henry had been there. Then Mr. Thornton could turn to him randomly in the middle of a speech and say "go away." I can picture him doing that. ;D

You know, I used to like N&S better than W&D hands-down (are you shocked?) but now, the more I watch of both the more it is evening and eventually W&D might pass it up. :P

Hayden said...

Brace yourself: long comment approaching

Okay, I too read the book…and I still don’t like Margaret. Everybody was telling me how I only needed to read the book and then I’d like her…but, uh, no. Nada. Yes, I did like her a *little* better, but not much. I’m not even sure why, but she rubs me the wrong way. I think it’s because I don’t think she has much of a sense of humor…I know that sounds weird, but it’s true.

However, I admit that we dragged my dad into watching this movie actually not that long ago, and I did like her better that time around (my third viewing of N&S)….so maybe in another four or five viewings, I’ll begin to actually like her; I don’t know ;)

Mr. Thornton! *swoon* All right, all right. Maybe not “swoon”. I do really, really like him (even better than Nicolas, yes) but he’s not my favorite hero of all time. Still, I joke that of all the literary heroes, I’d choose him to marry just because I wouldn’t care if I broke up him and Margaret. Yes, I adore Mr. Knightley, but I couldn’t take him away from Emma, now could I? But honestly, I don’t think Thornton and Margaret suit because they’re both so serious- Margaret needed to marry someone with a sense of humor to lighten her up, okay? And the same can be said for Mr. Thornton (although his seriousness doesn’t bother me so much)

But I do like the ending at the train station…and I don’t care that Mr. Thornton’s shirt is unbuttoned *ducks head* Well, it’s true! I didn’t even notice until you said something. I was too busy processing the fact that he was smiling, actually ;)

I love the Higginses (and yes, I like them better in the movie than in the book). I love that little part near the end when Mr. Higgins mentions Frederick! Yes, much better than in the book when I was ridiculously tired and stressed by that point. And Bessie….*sniffle* I always really liked her and was sad that she died.

I love, love, love it when Higgins and Mr. Thornton begin working together. It’s probably my favorite part of the whole movie.

I also love Mrs. Thornton. Don’t ask me why. I just do. She does annoy me when she scolds Margaret for meeting a man after dark somewhere, but I’m also annoyed with Margaret at that scene because I personally would have told Mrs. Thornton about Fred. I mean, I think the woman, with her intense love for her own son, would have understood Margaret trying to protect her brother. On the other hand, Margaret didn’t like Mrs. Thornton that much or knew her as well as the viewer, so in my head in know Margaret was doing what she felt to be right…but that doesn’t help my emotions, which remain annoyed.

But I have to admit one of the reasons I probably like Mrs. Thornton so much is because I don’t like Margaret very much either…

And Fanny! *insert screech of laughter* She cracks me up SO MUCH. I mean…a lot. In such a serious movie, she was needed. Dearly.

Henry and Ann Latimer??? Brillant! :)

So…. This is not one of my favorite period dramas, not because I *don’t* like it, but because there are many that I like better. But it still is probably among my favorite movies, for the most part, although I don’t really get into it until the last two episodes.

Sorry for the long, ramble-y comment….but I couldn’t help myself :)

Hayden said...

Oh, really random: We were watching The Bible miniseries the other night (not very accurate, BTW) but Moses was played by the guy who plays Boucher. We all were seriously shrieking, "BOUCHER! It's Boucher!"

Alexandra said...



Waaaal, dunno what I'm gonna say to's one of my top ten faves. Hehe. And this movie is what prompted me to cpmpletely fall in love with Richard Armitage. And I loves me angsty heroes, as you know, so I was just revelling in every angsty moment. "I don't want you for a possession, I wish to marry you because I love you!" SWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON.


I love caps lock. :-P And I hate Henry. And I totally agree about Bessy...LOLOLOLLLLLLLL.

The end. For now. And I love you anyway. ;)

Mal said...

I've been waiting for this post for so long! My only complaint is how long it took you to mention Richard Armitage - he's the half the reason why you watch the movie! Just kidding okmaybenot. Anyway.... ;)
I've never loved Margaret.... I think there's just something about her as a heroine I that just keeps from liking her.
Ok now that we've covered her.... MR. THORNTON. You're completely right - Richard IS Mr. Thornton. Nobody else could play him as perfectly as he does. His voice - I die. "I don't wish to possess you, I wish to marry you because I love you!" And we all swoon and die.
But it can get a little slow at times and the mill business can bog it down some too.
I've realized that I'm not a huge fan of many of the characters in N&S. Both of her parents rub me the wrong way, Fanny is Fanny, Henry is awkward, and I don't love Margaret and I feel like I should since she's the heroine. But I do love Mr. Thornton and Margaret's brother (haha I'm blanking on his name - all I can think of is Frank Churchill - I'll be laying in bed tonight and it will come to me ;)
But overall, I love N&S so much :)

Thanks for posting this!
-mal :)

Caroline L. said...


I have composed myself and am ready to comment with moderate calmness. This is one of my very favorite films (yes, I know it's a mini-series. Anyway.) ever. It's very the near the top of my list of favorites. And, I really enjoyed reading the book, so much so, I barely put it down for the day and a half in which I read it. I think the mini-series brought the book beautifully to life, and in general, the changes made were good ones in my opinion. My dear Miss Dashwood, if you have ONLY seen this show twice...! well, I pity you.

Yes, Daniela is a magnificent Margaret. I even think her looks match up fairly well with the book's description.

Margaret has slowly risen to one of my top heroines. You are right, she is a more "normal" heroine, and because of that, I did not start off adoring her...her good points and virtues didn't stand out as starkly as many other heroines' do, and she is very layered. Every time I re-experience the story, via show or book, I get to know and love her better...and find more similarities between her and myself.

Soooo, on to the best part: RICHARD. This show introduced me to Richard Armitage (and I haven't looked back since...). He truly IS Mr. Thornton in this. Absolutely. He plays the flaws, the determination, the roughness, the tenderness, the responsibility, and, yes, the angst exactly right. (I for one found book Thornton to be veeeery brooding and angsty. I thought that the film toned that down quite a bit! And for me, Richard glares and smolders NEVER get old.) I like very flawed protagonists. They seem so alive and (if the story is worth anything) learn and change and grow along the way. As such, Mr. Thornton is one of my favorite fiction gents, and the fact that RA plays him - well... that makes him 1000x better! ;]

Awww, Nicholas and Bessy! Very welcome changes to their characters. These two are so sweet together, and I love how their friendship with Margaret affects their lives - the part where Nicholas and Mary say goodbye to Margaret is so touching. Nicholas is such a changed man, so much gentler and kinder and wiser and more humble, and I just! Awwww! want to give him big hugs. Brendan Coyle did a stellar job, and his "you'd have been a bit more civil?" line always makes me chuckle.

We do quote Nicholas a lot here.... Thank goodness they made his dialogue more understandable than in the book! I could barely get the gist of his long paragraphs of dialect and slang (knobstick and "hoo" ring a bell?)

Bessy is lovely - and fun ("what would we want with a basket?"). Your description of book Bessy cracked me up. There were times when I just wanted to shut her up when she would go on and on and on about heaven and Revelation!

Mrs. Thornton is something, isn't she? I don't quite love her - she irks me and angers me at parts, but I thoroughly admire her steadfastness and her fierce love of her son. To me, she was the closest character transition from book to screen. Absolutely, jaw-droppingly, spot-on.

Fanny! "Oooh, Miss Hale! ... How delightful." Every time we see her, she is entertaining. "Our staircases are wider than the whole width of this room!" and "Did all the servants see?" and getting rice down her wedding dress... she never disappoints.

Caroline L. said...

You are right! Miss Latimer and Henry Lennox are made for each other! Hehe. She would be a proper "London girl" and never act boldly or share unwanted strong opinions... yes I think they would be very happy.

I feel the need to mention two other characters - Dixon and Mr. Bell. The story wouldn't be the same without Dixon's huffing and concerned faces and Mr. Bell's charisma and plaid trousers!

Hee hee. Fanny in the exhibition scene. *snicker*

My favorite scenes: The mill owners' dinner (where they all got together and were talking about their factories and that wheel - in fact, the line I most quote from N+S is Watson's "Yesh.") This scene is so entertaining with all the other guys talking and acting rather childish while Mr. Thornton is quietly sitting their and smirking... I don't know, I've just always liked that part. I also love the whole riot day, the dinner party (also has good quotes: "Who's that fine lookin' woman?" said in Hamper's(?) voice); interior scenes of the mill, the bit with Dixon making Higgins remove his shoes; when Higgins FINALLY tells Thornton about Frederick being Margaret's brother; Margaret's departure; and, of course, the glorious ending. For reasons. ;]

My mom and sister dislike the ending greatly because of the big breach in historical accuracy, but I adore it. Yes, it would have been improper and all that, but *siiiiiiiiiiigh* I just don't mind, for once. And I don't mind his open collar, either. Kinda *cough* actually sorta like it *cough*. If we're gonna nit-pick his outfit, Margaret was bare-headed in public!

But this scene is sublime and gorgeous. Henry, while I do enjoy that he is uncomfortable (hehehehe), does mess up the mood of the scene. But, my dear Miss Dashwood, some good soul on Youtube has edited out his parts from ending scene, so you can go and watch it without his sour face displeasing you!

I truly enjoyed your comment that if Henry had helped to explain, things would have ended up differently. Most likely! =D Never thought of that before....

Altogether, this is one of my very favorite period dramas. It is pretty different than most of the other historical British romance-y movies I have seen. While I do love the rural prettiness and balls and matchmaking of other films (Jane Austen, for example), this deals with political strife and poverty and class and industrialism and humanity in a much closer, real way. It's absolutely BRILLIANT, and I want to go watch it RIGHT NOW, instead of translating Latin homework! *sigh* Well, maybe when I'm done, I'll just watch the edited ending to tide me over...

Forgive the lengthiness of this. At least I spared you utter, uncontrollable excitement! *checks other comments that have popped up while I have been writing mine* I tried very hard to be sedate, and not let my feelings run away with me - otherwise my comment would be very much like Alexandra's only LONGER. Consider yourself fortunate to be so spared.

Jessica Greyson said...

Dearest Darling Miss Dashwood.

I must admit I squealed upon reading this post. *coughcough* I live in a society of WEloveNorth&SouthandRichardArmitage world,e which does not understand this pov. It is one of my little sisters FAVORITE EVER!!!!!!
Though I have sadly not read the book (I want to I just haven't had the chance). I have watched the movie at least twice, and the first time I watched it, I must admit it was a great disappointment....that was it? Really? 6 hours of my life for that?

But after some cajoling I have come to view the story in a better light and pretty much agree with EVERYTHING you said here. THANK YOU FOR SAYING IT...and giving me hope that I AM NOT ALONE IN THE WORLD!!!!! *cough* I think I was a little desperate there.

I love your closing thoughts...postitnotes... defiantly using those next times and that kiss in public should have been saved for a private moment in my personal humble opinion.

AND YES YES YES YES!!!!! GASKELL Funeral parade... *nods* you ladies are soooooo right.

Thank you muchly!


Anonymous said...

Oooh, payback, eh? ;) Before I even hovered my cursor over the "Some people" link, I knew EXACTLY what it was going to be. You sneaky little, Chauvie you.

Alright. First off, I have to say that I'm one of those people who is HEAD OVER HEELS IN LOVE with N&S. And not just because of Richard Armitage, either. Actually, I can't even say he's the reason I watch it. Sure, I like the guy and good gravy that voice of his... but I'm not *quite* such a fangirl as others. But anyway, that was an awful rabbit trail... let me get back on track.

I'M HEAD OVER HEELS IN LOVE WITH NORTH AND SOUTH. It just might be my favoritefavorite period drama. Yes, even topping P&P 1995 AND 2005. Deal with it. There is so much raw emotion and depth and all-out passion in this movie. I have all kinds of feels while watching it. Yup. This movie and I. We're tight.

Okay. Margaret. I like her a lot, but it takes me a while to warm up to her. I'm not sure why... maybe it's because she does sometime seem like a snob. But by the end, she has won me over. And yeah, like you said, I like how she's not just drop-dead gorgeous. BBC is really good about doing that with their heroines! Their actresses don't always look perfect and flawless and beautiful. I like that.

Richard Armitage IS Mr. Thornton. Totally agree. And I really do love Mr. Thornton. He's flawed, but he tries. Very nice. And I must say, I LOVE RA's Northern accent.

Okay, but to talk about Thornton, I must talk about my favorite... YES NICHOLAS HIGGINS IS MY FAVORITE CHARACTER GET OVER IT. I wouldn't say he quite *replaces* Mr. Thornton; I just like him the most. I love his friendship with Margaret; it's so sweet! And I love watching how Nicholas changes throughout the movie.

Speaking of which, one of my favorite aspects of the movie is watching Nicholas and Thornton's friendship develop. And the fact that they BOTH got over their prejudices enough to share a meal together in a shack with a bunch of factory employees? WOW.

Now onto my lesser favorite people... Ann Latimer. I hardly noticed her the first time. Who?
Henry Lennox. I'm sorry, I strongly dislike the man. At the end, when he's watching Thornton and Margaret in the train station, I have to admit I laugh at him. "BOO YEAH YOU GOT WHAT WAS COMING, YOU CREEPY-SMILING STALKER."

And now for the BEST part of this movie... the ending. I say without apology that this, THIS, is the most romantic thing I've ever laid eyes on. I adore it in every way. Into itty bitty pieces. You name it.

And I know it drives you crazy, but I think the whole kissing in public thing was meant to symbolize how they had both gotten over their old prides and prejudices (say...) and just. didn't. care. anymore.

And am I the only one who thinks it is the most adorable thing when you can tell Margaret is just melting??? She can't even speak. And Thornton's not even saying anything. Hahahahaha, I love it.

Alright. I better go now. I'm writing a book. Suffice to say... I love this movie. I love Thornton, but I love Nicholas more. And the ending is the best. The end.

(OH, and @ Hayden: we were watching The Bible, too, [THE MOST AWFULEST THING I'VE EVER WATCHED, BTW] and I recognized Boucher right away! And of course, I couldn't take Moses very seriously...)

Kirsten Fichter said...

Fanny's caterwauling... that's definitely the best part! :D

But an excellent review, Amy. I very much enjoyed reading it. I will admit that N&S is one of my favorite period dramas, I don't know if it gets as high as top five. I've never made myself a list, you see, so I never really could tell. I s'pose we share a dislike for those horrid, defining lists.

And thank you for saying something about the last scene!! Personally, I'm not a fan of kissy-mushy-romantic scenes in movies, especially when it's the very last image the screen can present to you. But yes, Mr. Thorton shouldn't have had his collar undone, nor should he have kissed a girl he was not engaged to in public. I guess that scene was a jab towards the romantic viewers and their tender hearts, much like the ending of P&P 05, another scene I do not condone. Ah, but anywho... I won't bore you with more rambling on the subject.

I've seen N&S probably 4 or 5 times now, and I'll say that my opinion of Margaret and Mr. Thorton both improved each time I watched it. I like that they're not typical of romanctic relationships in a movie. They can't stand each other, then Mr. Thorton grows to love her, then he tries to forget that love while Margaret grows to love him. In a sense, I'm glad Margaret didn't marry him after his first proposal. She still had too much growing to do.

Bother... I meant to only leave a small comment on the hilarity of Fanny's caterwauling, and.... well, you see what happened.

God bless!
Kiri Liz

Alexandra said...

Petie - N&S and Kiss At The End lovers unite! Hehe. ;) I'm all about the mush, as you know. So that whole scene...and he takes her hand and she just....can't...speak...any...more...and I'm just like, that would totally be me. LOL. And great point about the whole pride thing. I approve. ;)

I *love* Nicholas and Thornton's relationship, too. Sniff. :)

Analiese said...

Thank you, thank you for such an extensive post on N&S!! This is one of my three favorite movies. :D It is very gray, and a lot of deaths...but the romance is sweet and I love Margaret from both the book and the movie. Aargh!!! I am also too annoyed with how Mr. Thornton is dressed in the last scene - I feel there's a lot of that kind of dressing in the 2005 P&P - one of the many reasons I don't like it. :D Anyway, thanks for the fun post!

BatZion said...

Wow... there are enough people who have posted blog post worthy comments... so I'll just leave a short note... :)

I love your review, granted I also love North and South... it is one of my top 5 (top3?) favourite period dramas, so your criticism was a little hard to swallow. But I love the way that you balanced your constructive criticism with humour. And you were very brave to put your honest opinion out in the period-drama-blogging world :)

@ Petie & Alexandra
Gotta agree with you girls on the ending. Every time I watch it I cry enough for a whole tissue box. Okay... slight exaggeration, but you get my point. :)

Sarah said...

Oh, goodness! Your review was great! Thanks for posting! I loved your statement: "I have a caps lock too, you know." ;D

I've been wondering what this book and movie was about, and just recently starting reading it on my Kindle, though I'm not far enough along to say whether I like it or not. I guess the main reason I wanted to check it out was because of Mr. Armitage... heheh... I absolutely love The Hobbit, and found out he was in this miniseries. Also, my pen pal mentioned in one of her emails that she and her sisters have watched N&S and liked it. Usually, if she likes anything, than I know I'll like it. Of course, my goal is to read the book first, then find the film in my library.

Again, thanks for posting! It was really helpful. =]


Jessica said...

I do love this movie, and the book it was based upon. About Mr. Thornton, I'm sure you know that at least that horrible scene with him beating up on the employee was made up for the movie, and not in the book at all. That made me feel so much better when I read the book, because his cruelty really disturbed me in the movie.

Now, I have to say I do not like Mr. Higgins or Mrs Thornton. Ha Most of the reason with Mrs. Thornton is because her accent drives me nuts. It sounds harsh in her voice. And I don't like harsh women. ;-)

I loved the ending, too, even if they did kiss in public, etc. What would a romantic ending be without a kiss, after all?

Jane B said...

Thanks for the review! It's always great to read other's opinions on movies, books and such like.

Now, where do I stand in regards to N&S?
Weeellll, to be perfectly honest....I didn't reeelly like it first time I saw it.
The gloominess and all the deaths got us a bit down actually.
And now this is going to sound like heresy BUT Mr Thornton is the first period drama hero that I've taken an instant dislike to and never totally warmed up to him even at the end. My sister and I saw Margaret's point of view Perfectly and it ended up generating alot of argument in our family! Margaret vs Mr Thornton..

It was only after some internet search that I found out the kind of adoration there was out there for Richard Armitage. And you know I've mellowed a little towards him, ie John Thornton.

But I dislike Mrs Thornton! I admit she came across to me as domineering, rude and possessive and well, I guess agreeing with Margaret's pov, that's not surprising!

I possibly should watch it again someday (yes, I admit I've only ever seen it once) but it is rather gloomy.....

Melody said...

Hahaha, Jessica, do you mean to say you don't like S&S's ending?? ;) But I think hugs do just as well or better. I don't know what it is about romantical hugs but they're so cuuuute, where as kissing can sometimes be a bit... much. Depending. N&S almost went over the line, but not quote. ;)

Leanna said...

This is a great review! It's the closest thing to my own opinion I've read yet.

I'm actually even more critical than you are on certain characters, particularly Margaret. Well and Mr. Thornton. I suppose you could say they grew on me by the end of the film, but just a little. The end did not justify the means, in my opinion. (I couldn't get that factory kicking scene out of my mind...)

I've not read the book, so I guess I don't have a complete/accurate picture, but from watching the mini-series twice (see, I even gave it a second chance!) I still couldn't bring myself to *really* like it. Definitely not on my top 10 ten period drama list...and I'm pretty sure I haven't seen 10 period dramas. haha

Fanny Thornton is by far the best part of the series! Yay for Elizabeth Gaskell for putting in something light-hearted in such a dark story! Oh, and the Higgins are great, as well. As I said before, I haven't read the book, so I only know the film side of those characters, so I like them.

I loved your comments about Ann Latimer and Henry Lennox!! Yes, poor Henry Lennox! hehe. And showing up in the end scene!! Can't decide if I want to laugh or cry at that point! It's rather awkward either way, hehe.

Speaking of the ending sentiments exactly! Public affection?? My gracious! And with an unbuttoned collar! It's simply scandalous!

I'm surprised you didn't feature Frederick's character...after all, he *is* Frank Churchill! ;)

Well, I certainly did not mean to leave such a long comment... At least now you know you have an ally!

Anonymous said...

@ Ally - Consider ourselves united. *high-five* ;) Seriously. That ending is the best. And as much as I try to deny it, there is a part of me that loves the mush. ;) That kiss at the end... wow. It kinda takes my breath away. The perfect way to end such a beautiful movie!

Caroline L. said...


Something happened to my lengthy part-two comment *shakes fist at Blogger* , so here I go again (not nearly as long-winded this time around).

Basically, Anne Latimer and Henry Lennox are made for each other! I never thought of that until you mentioned it! I think they would be very happy together - she would be a proper "London girl" for him, and he would do all the talking for her!

I have to say, THAT I LOVE THE END SCENE. Yeah, yeah, historically inaccurate, and all that, but *siiiiiiigh*... and I also have to admit that I rather like Mr. Thorton's open collar here...hehehe. Besides! Margaret was bare-headed, so she wasn't exactly respectable, either. Henry's glowering presence does ruin the mood, but there is an edited version of the scene on youtube that does NOT include his sour face! Yay! Pure bliss.

This is probably my favorite period drama, after P+P 95, so thank you very much for reviewing! Now I REALLY want to go and watch it....

Miss Emma said...


Okay, now that I got that out...

…and before I comment on what you said, let me say that I recently discovered your blog. You are hilarious, a terrific writer, and love most of the same things that I love, so I have enjoyed perusing your blog.

Now on to agreeing with most of what you said in your review of N&S (although I cannot say that I much noticed that Thornton's shirt was not properly done up):

I don't hate Margaret….but neither do I absolutely adore her. And I do like Thornton (and love Richard Armitage). But it’s the supporting characters that steal the spotlight for me. I really like Hannah Thornton (which is kind of funny, because I sometimes think she might dislike Margaret because they are too similar and therefore butt heads, which should mean that I like Margaret more than I do – hey this may be my mind, but I don’t claim to understand it) and I certainly like movie Bessy better than book-Bessy (Anna Maxwell Martin definitely plays a role in that. She’s not in a ton of movies I have seen, but what I’ve seen her in she has always acted out superbly). And, I might have mentioned before: I LOVE NICHOLAS HIGGINS. He’s funny, caring, has a spine, intelligent, has great integrity, is willing to change his mind about people as he gets to know them (ahem, both Margaret and Thornton), and I could probably go on. I simply enjoy watching him in every scene that he is in. Especially when he “springs the news about Frederick” on John (I may or may not swoon when John replies under his breath “He was her brother”).

Haha! Ann Latimer (she could never be Anne with an E, so how fitting that her name does not contain one…okay, back to what I was saying) and Henry Lennox would be perfect for each other. I must say that while it’s not that much more, I might like Lennox a smidgeon better in the book. He was creepy in the movie, hands down. But I did feel a bit sorry for him in the book – he seemed, dare I say it, a bit more Darcy-esque (wealthy gentleman with an abundance of pride and no talent of conversing with people they don’t know…oh wait, Henry does know Margaret…) anyways, I really just felt sorry for him in the book and kind of hope that in a sequel he too would have outgrown his proudly ways and become a better suitor for someone…Ann Latimer perhaps, although she would not make for a good heroine.

WHERE is Frederick?? I LOVE Rupert Evans! (Aside: I like to cast movies that probably never shall be, and in the first one I ever did, I cast RE as the older Tom Shaw in An Old-Fashioned Girl. Aka I love him!) But, seriously, I did like RE as Margaret’s brother and wish that there had been someway to give him more screen time (Epilogue where John and Margaret meet Frederick and his wife, anyone?)

And finally, THE ENDING.
Let me preface my opinion with a comment: I really do like the ending.
I don’t know what it is but there is something to him coming to her in London that I love. It’s been too long since I’ve read N&S, so I don’t remember the details, but I do remember that I liked the book version better. That being said, the end of the movie is certainly lovely. And, I love the music throughout the entire film, but it’s very sweet here.
And, maybe I’m a strange bird, but I actually like that Henry Lennox was there – Margaret gets to show John that she chooses him instead of Henry and I even like the moment when she goes back to tell Henry that she won’t be going back to London with him. It makes the moment even sweeter when John says “you’re coming home with me”.

All in all, I probably agree with you and give the movie 4/5 (or maybe 9/10) stars. There are just so many others I’ve watched since discovering N&S years ago that have surpassed it in my estimation. Which is funny, since I wrote my big final paper in my Brit Lit course freshman year on how the North and the South of Gaskell’s book are representations of the Victorian and Romantic eras of British history.

Holly said...

I loved your review...and I agree totally with you, I liked it, it was great, but definitely not one of my favourite period dramas, not even close! :)

Lily said...

Amy, I realize that I am getting in on the commenting rather late, but I just had to comment anyways. = ) I quite adore the story of N&S, for I feel that I can relate to Margaret in many ways (although I have no Mr. Thornton in my life. Ha!) Furthermore, I watch the entire movie for the final scene. It is so beautiful, and it almost completely makes up for all of the death and somberness of the rest of the movie. : ) Oh, and your smolder quips cracked me up. Mr. T. and Flynn Rider need to compare notes! ; ) Oh, and you mentioned Elsie Dinsmore! I love her books, but I found her cousin, Millie Keith much less perfect (and much more relatable!). Haha. Did you read any of the Millie Keith books? Anyways, back to the beaten path... I was quite diverted by your review. Thank you!

Margaret Hale said...

I LOVE this story, both the book and the movie. I agree with what you said about Margaret- she's much more likeable in the book than the movie- but what do you mean Mr.Thornton's no Mr. Knightley? The scene with him beating up Stephens isn't even in the book.
I love that scene when you can hear Fanny playing the piano upstairs! And did you notice that at her wedding her mother's just beaming with happiness? Getting rid of her at last.
I liked Henry much, much better in the book than in the movie. It would be great if he and Anne Latimer got married! (If he proposed to her she'd probably just nod yes.)
The ending is soooooo good. The unbuttoned collar and the fact that they're kissing in public is a little disturbing, but whenever I watch the scene I'm so absorbed in thinking how beautiful it is that I usually don't think about it.

Julia Rogers said...

Hi there Miss Dashwood-Amy
I read this post a while ago and I thought I had commented but I guess it was only in my head =)
Ok so..down to business.
1: That quote is a favorite in my house!
2:N&S is WAY over TOPS P&P´95...just sayin´I DO truly love P&P95 but N&S .....well its just see?
Totally a favorite and probably top 2. The author is more than amazing.
I watched the movie probably four times before i read the book and then since then i have read the book 6 times..alot? by no means, that book is more than classic it is EPIC(and for the record, i dont really use that word to describe things much at all)! I am amazed and shocked and saddened...she IS drop dead gorgeous and she is so strong ...and serene, I LOVE her, I would say she is my most ideal heroine, I love and i do mean LOVE Anne Shirley, AGG is my favorite movie in the world but i look up to Margaret!
4: Richard Armitage...oops i meant Mr. Thornton,....really..dont you believe me?
And YES RA IS Mr.Thornton.
His accent..ditto, tall dark and handsome..TOTALLY swoon worthy! I´m practically melting as I type.
Yes, also he is my FAVORITE hero, once again Gilbert Blythe is still the sweetest/cutest/funniest but as far as strong moral character..that is what i appreciate more.
And, Mr.Knightly, oh yes, very awesome, but he is top five, not top 2. =) [sorry dahling]
5: The amazing!
And yes, the movie is soooo much better portrayal of them than the book. Nicholas is my second favorite guy in the movie..just almost equal to Mr.Thornton though!!!
6: Totally agree about Bessy.
7: Mrs.Thornton, well yes, I admit i liked her even when i couldnt stand her, her strong character was terrific. but her mis-judgement of Margaret really annoys me!
8: Yep,Fanny. Agree.
9:Ann Latimer, mmmmm-hmmm .btw. she wasnt even in the book i dont know if anyone realized?????
10:Henry Lennox.
I liked him. in both movie and book and he could have been and was a nice guy but just not for Margaret.
11:yeah i dont like misunderstanding either ..but it was good in this book
12.the ending
I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!From here to forever!!!!!!!!!
ANd i feel the exact same way as there.
I wont dialogue more i will simply close.

Meee said...

I have to say that first of all I of course respect every girl's opinion on N&S and I understand that it is not the movie for everyone (hehe, ask my mom, she'll give you her own opinion on it :), but it is definitely my favorite BBC period drama of all time, seconded by P&P 1995. Mr. Thornton is my hero... I just loved his tall, dark, and handsome presence, his reserve and dignity, his strong love for Margaret (who, in my opinion, is absolutely gorgeous), and of course, his smolder. :) I could watch North and South over and over again and never tire of it. :)

Hannah said...

You don't love North and South?! ShockGaspHorror! Fair enough though, I myself don't love the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice. Oh, don't get me wrong. I do really like it and I think it's the best adaptation of the book overall. I just don't it's as perfect as everyone else thinks it is. I think how you feel about N&S is how I feel about P&P.

Trudy said...

Mr Thornton is my absolute favorite romantic hero. I try to imagine what he has endured over the years while he spent his life working provide home and renew the status of his family. It blows me away. He has put his own needs last for how long? That's why I understand his extreme anguish when he finally find something he wants for his own and he doesn't seem to be able to get it - that the girl he wants thinks he isn't good enough. And he's such a gem! Talk about pure devotion and fidelity!
I believe I understand Margaret very well. She was under great shame and emotional distress when she rejected him. She regretted it very soon after. It doesn't take long for her to realize her great mistake - but by then she cannot let herself dwell on it, it's too painful!
I love Mrs. Thornton! She doesn't hate Margaret's character. She rather admires it. Gaskell tells us so in at least two different places. What she hates is that Margaret looked down on her son and - what really galled her - rejected him! I have no problem believing that Hannah will come around once she realizes Margaret adores her son (as she should!).
Ann Latimer is a screenplay invention to let us see a little of Margaret's growing attraction and, later, regret.
I agree that this story shouldn't be compared with Austen's. They're written in completely different eras and with a different style and message.
Oh, and Gaskell did make fun of her own use of so many deaths to propel her plot. She joked to a friend that she was considering calling her nobel "Death and Variations." Lol!
I love Gaskell's passionate prose. If anything, I'd compare her to Bronte, not Austen, which everyone seems to do. :)

Emily Blakeney said...

And, also, Richard Armitage (Mr. Thornton) is Thorin Oakenshield in "The Hobbit" - hence my mother, elder sister and I have decided to dub Mr. Thornton "Mr. Thorinton". Yes. Anyway....

Fanny is probably my favourite character!

I think North & South is much different to other Period Dramas (except perhaps Amazing Grace) in that is a lot sadder and has a much "deeper" plot, if you will.


Archie said...

I'm from Mumbai, India & I found the story (as depicted in the mini series) touching a chord, despite having little or no exposure to any culture beyond my country. It is one of the very best movies that I have ever seen.

The portrayal of such an intense romance in a bleak & insipid town of North England (without visual props like Pemberly Estate!) is not easy. The no-nonsense harshness of an industrial town, the lifestyles & conflicts of the people in different socio-economic strata, are tellingly depicted.

All the actors have essayed their roles superbly. Between Richard Armitage & Daniela Denby-Ashe's commendable performances, I'd vote for the latter (only just). While Richard excelled with his intensely expressive (& often smolderingly brooding) eyes & a very impressive body language cum screen presence, Daniela had to match up to that high standard by the sheer dint of her acting prowess. And match up she did! Expressive countenance, eloquent eyes &, most importantly, superb voice-modulation while reeling off her lines with utmost expressiveness. Surely a most memorable performance.

As for the famous railway station scene, let me hazard saying that the 'kiss' seemed a tad out of place. Both Margaret & John were way too restrained in their personalities to let their guard down & kiss each other in a public place. That said, the scene, upto the 'kiss' is sheer bliss. The way in which Margaret responds to John touch her hand - tentatively at first, & then, lifting his hand to kiss it gently, transcends geographical borders. Both John & Margaret had lonely lives. Anyone, with such fine & upright moral values as both, are rare species & hence, generally lonely. And now, all misunderstandings have been mitigated, all adverse feelings have been dissolved. They can now be together. Margaret kissing John's hand is a very pure moment in this movie.

The couple kissing inside the railway carriage is somewhat okay though I'd have loved to see the scene fade away with the lady's head resting on the fine gentleman's shoulder while they admire the countryside passing by. They not only found love but solace as well.

A very small nitpick: John's sister (Fanny) was portrayed in a maliciously insensitive way in her final appearance. Especially her dig about John's marriage-prospects when the latter was professionally devastated. Just keeping her role as a snooty & feather-brained girl would have been just fine. :)

Thanks for your detailed review. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Warm regards,

Miss Elliot said...

To start:
Loved your review!! Your reviews are always so clear and even the rambly parts make sense!
I am going to comment as I watch this movie episode by episode. I just watched the first one, so here goes:
I love it so far! The music, the actors, everything! The only technical problem is that it's kind of dark and you can't see the actors' faces. But oh well. Also, at this stage I can't imagine Margaret marrying Mr. Thornton. I mean, he's drop-dead handsome and romantic and all. And I know that he's going to end up with Margaret, but seriously? KICKING someone when they're on the ground?
I love the last scene of episode 1- "I have seen hell. It is white. Snow-white."
So yeah. Basically all day after watching this episode, I've been walking around in the mid-19th century.
Check out my blog!!

Miss Elliot said...

Ok, episode 2:
Wow, what a movie. I am liking it more and more, but for some reason (and I'm watching it on DailyMotion, so that may be part of the problem) I can't hear very much of what Mr. Thornton says: his gravelly voice (which I love, by the way, along with his accent) combined with his moodiness...well, 'twere next to impossible finding his voice. Sink me, if everyone isn't so equal in your new society that no one wants to do the enunciatin' any more.
Moving on-
I love the riot scene where Margaret tells him to go out and face the crowd like a man. And then takes a rock for him. "Are you satisfied now? It was me you came for- kill me if you want." Oh. My. Word.
And Dixon- I love Dixon. She's just so sweet.
Oh, and the PROPOSAL. I nearly cried. One can see why she refused him- I think I would have refused him- but ohhh...
"I do not wish to possess you, I wish to marry you because I love you!"
And Bessie dying...there is no worse way to die than gasping out your last moments...and she was so sweet. I agree with you, Miss Dashwood, we didn't see enough of her. And of course that's Mr. Thornton's fault too. (And I like his smolder- I like smoldery heros {Mr. Rochester, anyone?}- but of course they must become unsmoldery when they meet up with the heroine).
Oh, and by the way, you're wrong when you say I don't know the meaning of love. Quite wrong.

Miss Elliot said...

Episode 3!!!
Oh, I have no words. So I won't try to describe my emotions at this point.
To start:
As soon as Frederick came on-screen, I went, hmmmmm, have I seen him before? Then- "IT'S FRANK CHURCHILL!!!" At last Rupert Evans gets a good role- well, Frank Churchill wasn't too bad. He and Jane Fairfax were really cute together. And (except for the rather ridiculous hair) he looked so much the same (but five years younger, of course) that I almost expected him to say "That girl I wrote you about- Jane Fairfax- she's....I wish you and Father could meet her. You would love her." So I giggled about that for a minute.
But I couldn't giggle for long. It's just sad- Bessie dies, Mrs. Hale dies, oh, it's just awful. The scene where Margaret and Fred say goodbye at the station is just heart-breaking.
Oh and the POLICEMAN. I liked the policeman, and I hate it when good characters have to lie to good people to save someone else's life. (Yes, very strong Orzcy vibes in this movie.)
SO many people die in this episode.
"Any foolish passion I had for you is over."

Miss Elliot said...

I waited a bit before watching this one- mostly because I didn't want it to be over...
Episode 4.
I have to say, Mr. Hale's death... that really got me, mostly because I wasn't expecting it. It was one thing I hadn't heard of already, from you or someone else. So yeah. I didn't actually cry, but I sat there stunned for a few minutes. I mean, one minute he's happy at Oxford, feeling ten years younger, and then there's Mr. Bell to tell Margaret that her father has died.
Oh yes, Mr. Bell. I felt SO SORRY for him. Here he is dying and leaving his money to a girl he thought he could marry...
Oh and I love, love, love Nicholas Higgins. His interaction with Mr. Thornton in this episode FINALLY the two best men in the movie understand and even like each other.
It's odd, at the beginning of the movie I thought Margaret was right to be snobbish to Mr. Thornton (and I still think that), but really, as the movie went on, I thought, Margaret, if I walked around the way you do, my mother would give me a talking to. (That was an accidental rhyme, by the way. You see I'm a bit of a poet, and *you* did not know it, what?)
I LOVE the last scene. Love it, love it. BUT-
it's too short.
As the credits rolled, I thought, oh come ON, we've spent almost four hours wishing for this couple to be together, and we get five minutes. AND, Henry the Scowler is WATCHING from the train. And waht happpens to poor Frederick? And.....?
But it was really, really sweet. "You don't need Henry to explain." And his face when he thinks she's leaving him again, but she's just going to get her bag...
"You're coming home with me?"
Oh yes, so sweet.

Miss Elliot said...

To sum up:
I love North & South.
The End.
Just kidding (but I do love it).
Wow, this movie is like The Scarlet Pimpernel in disguise. (I mean the movie in disguise, not Sir Percy, haha. He's in disguise already most of the time.) Think about it:
Margaret and Marguerite.
Two beautiful heroines lying to their love interests to save their brothers.
The only thing we're missing is Chauvalin. Oh wait, Henry can be Chauvalin, he'd love it!
But all joking aside, I love this movie- the actors, the music- Oh, the MUSIC!!!
Thanks for this review, and for introducing me to Margaret Hale and John Thornton- even though, ugh, John is SUCH a stick-in-the-mud.
P. S. Is that all Margaret's hair, do you think? Because I've tried and tried to do my hair like hers and I have failed.
The End.

Miss Elliot said...

By the way, this post keeps popping up at the top of the 'popular posts' widget thingy. Wonder why.
*Henry Lennox smirk*

Unknown said...

Can anyone tell me why Miss hale always looked sickly or very tired? It is one of the things that drove me crazy and made me feel tired just watching her being tired.

Trudy said...

Hi Jennifer, I'll try to answer your question. I believe that if Margaret looked weary to you throughout the film, then Daniela Denby-Ashe was acting her role well. It's difficult to understand and fully sympathize with Margaret without reading the novel. which gives so much more insight into what was going on. The compounding trials laid upon Margaret almost from the beginning of the story are quite staggering if you consider it. These are the most difficult years of her life. At 18/19 she must leave a much-loved home, shoulder the weight of mentally supporting her parents, try to acclimate to a much less lovely and entirely different culture, watch her mother slowly weaken and die, watch her new friend worsen and die, bear the secret responsibility of her brother's safety, try to analyze her growing affection and respect for a man she cruelly rejected (while he knows her to have lied to the police), and bear it all cheerfully as possible so that her father won't succumb to overwhelming self-condemnation and grief ( he dies anyway), and then she gets shipped right back to London where she never wanted to be and was glad to leave in the very beginning.
It's a testament to the strength of Margaret's character that she can find moments to smile and be happy at all in the middle of everything.
Gaskell originally intended to call her work "Margaret Hale" and I think it would have worked well enough. The reader is suppose to experience Milton through her eyes and be sympathetic to the confusion and growth of the character in her transition from girl to a more mature and experienced woman.
You may have guessed that "North and South" is my favorite novel. :)
Hope that gives a better perspective.

ButterflyBailey said...

AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!! To EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!

Emily Blakeney said...

I love North & South! I have watched it once, a long time ago, and I really want to see it again! (My sister's studying the Industrial Revolution as part of her history, so we'll probably watch it 'cos it's relevant to that. Besides, any excuse to watch it again!)

It was the first sombre sort of movie I'd watched, (I'd mainly seen Austen, P&P and S&S that were still....pretty and visually nice, if you know what I mean) and I thought it was a bit awful at first....that is, poor Boutcher (and his kid, argh!), and Bessie and Mrs. Hale.....
The whole Frederick and the guy at the train station thing had me in agonies...

Then there are the Pride & Prejudice similarities - I mean, the Double Proposals, and the Pride and the Prejudice, and Mr Thornton intervening for her about Fred - EVEN after he thought she'd "betrayed" him!

My mum and sisters love to imitate the Northern accent - clench your teeth and you get the Mrs Thornton just about right!

The other thing I love about the movie is that from Margaret's perspective you can see both sides to a certain extent - the workers and the employer.
And is it just me, or are the Boutcher kid and Mr Thornton sooo cute?!

I must confess I never really liked Mrs Thornton much (especially when she tells Margaret what to do) , but she really does love her son, and she's pretty strong, especially to put up with Fanny......
...who, by the way, is one of the most hilarious characters in a period drama! "You were in no danger!"

Oh, and The Eponine! My friend and sister and I were musing on that just yesterday....

I have to say, I disliked Henry from the start, even before Mr Thornton came along. Yes, I think I ship him and Anne Latimer. Though they're both a bit boring and quiet sometimes. Especially Anne.

Anyway, think I'll leave it there....
Great post, Amy!

Anonymous said...

I watched the series a few times and I adore it.
I wish they made it a big longer.
Very much enjoy reading all reviews.


Gary Storrs said...

A suggestion for all who love this story, whether in book or movie form: you owe it to yourselves to track down and listen to the unabridged audiobook version of North and South, read by the wonderful actress Juliet Stevenson. She does a fabulous job with the story, the accents, the voices (male and female), and brings it all vivdly alive! I listen to a lot of audioboks, and this is quite simply the best and most enjoyable I've ever heard. Listening to a great and artistic story brought to life by a creative and skillful actress is another and different way to experience Mrs G's work. Audible has the audiobook, and I know it's available in other forms as well--my public library had it.

Scarlett said...

Kudos to the film crew, from actors to directors, producers, scriptwriters etc for bringing to life the wonderful classic, bring much enjoyment and delight to viewers the world over!

Thoroughly enjoyed N & S from start to end. The train opening and closing scenes were a wonderful idea and a fitting romantic end to the series. Could be a tad longer. Characters were well played out, dreary realistic settings, each episode was well-paced and had great art direction. DDA and RA were absolutely marvelous in their roles, couldn't be better. Could watch this series over and over again!

Anonymous said...

I cannot watch this show any longer, and I'm only at Episode 3

For one thing, why would a gorgeous, rich, intelligent and self-made man like Thornton want with an absolutely humorless, homely, ill-dressed, non-fun, self-righteous prude like that awful Margaret? It got to the point where I could not watch another minute of the actress who plays Margaret- I just couldn't STAND her

Fanny is a caricature, and therefore not anything close to a real human being, and Mother Thornton is also an absolute pill, almost as big a pill as Margaret; the only (farfetched) reason that Thornton could possibly even give Margaret a second look, is that he's looking for a replicate of his horrible, humorless, unappealing, sourpuss mother in his choice of a wife (boring, homely Margaret)

And the parts with Nicholas and Bessie were ridiculous. People who worked in factories in those days were completely illiterate, to the point that their particular vernacular is a foreign language, and Bessie and Nicholas practically speak the King's English

And no one from the cultured background of Margaret would be caught dead skulking around the ghetto they live, and on an almost daily basis, for many reasons including vermin, disease, germs, criminality &c. Come on

Maybe no one around this blog has ever read the actual books upon which various of these period dramas are based. North and South makes the most ridiculous leaps, making it utterly impossible for me to continue watching

Anonymous said...

Love the BBC adaptation but I noticed something the last time through....not sure why I didn't notice before: during Mr Thornton's first proposal Margaret says Bessy Higgins has died and almost the next scene in the following episode shows her visiting Bessy and she doesn't actually die until about 12 minutes into the third episode. Oops! Anyone else catch that?

Unknown said...

North and South had to grow on me before I liked it.
The first time I read the book I was a bit put off by the FACT THAT EVERYBODY DIED. Here are my reactions to the deaths.
1 Mrs Hale's death: Heartstring-tugging, integral part of the plot, well written, brings appropriate amounts of angst and complications into Margaret's life. 10/10.
2 Mr Hale's death: Oh, come on, Mrs Gaskell! You've just killed off one of the poor girl's parents and now you want to have her left with none? Mr Hale wouldn't have posed an obstacle to her eventual marriage with Mr Thornton. Wait...wait... Ah, now I get it. You want her to have the funding of Mr Bell in order to save Thornton's mill. Now I get it. Meh. A bit random, but we'll let that pass. 5/10.
3 Mr Bell's death: WOMAN, YOU ARE A MURDERESS! WHY THE HECK DID YOU DO THAT? I LIKED THE GUY AND NOW MARGARET IS COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY ALONE! For goodness sake, he may have been ill for some time - but you only told me about it two seconds ago. Not cool. 0.5/10

JenniferN said...

I adore the book and the movie. The characters are emblematic of the melding of the gentry to industry, the melding of masters and workers. Margaret lost the old (her family, her "values"). She was strong and a ballast for all those around her. Thornton is her match in that he is the same, only in the form of new money - new industry. They temper each other, Margaret demanding that Thornton get out of his hidey hole and speak with the workers as people, and Thornton helping Margaret find value in his character and endeavor, against the insipid London leisure foil.

The book breaks my heart. So many pages of yearning, and of poor Margaret alone to endure all the crap. Deaths, loss, shame, etc. And where is Thornton when her dad dies? Why doesn't he come and give the poor lady a hug? And she locks herself into the study to faint. And seriously, in the movie, the lady is hit by a solid rock. Instead of getting carried into the house, Thornton mans it up a bit with all the bravado. It was a weird hug scene; in the book, she hugs him to shield him. I also wish it were clearer that the reason she disses the proposal so hard is her shame because of all the tittle tattle between the ladies - the idea that SHE threw herself at him! Though I think she does love him by this time, just a wee bit, in the book.

Lord, the shame of the lie too! I was absolutely horrified that someone didn't pony up the goods on Frederick for a good year or so. What is up with Mr. Bell not booking it to see Thornton and reveal the truth? He knew there was something there - he commented on it and then warned Thornton that Henry liked her for her cash (though he didn't - it was just helpful). And why didn't she? Someone? Hello? I also thought it was sketchy that some guy died, and nothing happened because Thornton happened to be the sweetheart. I know the guy was a rogue and all that, but it still deserved an inquest. And after all that, Fred's still not cleared. I like the book version of Thornton better here. He didn't think the guy died because of violence; in the movie, he does. Also, in the book, he goes to Helstone to get the flowers, regardless of whether the mysterious train guy is her lover or not. He continues to love her.

As for casting - I like the movie Mr. Bell. He's sassy, and dancy and fun. That twirl he does in Thornton's office! And he gets right away Margaret doesn't want him and just glosses the proposal. True old gentleman. I wouldn't have minded Ms. Hale in the movie, but she has so many tells as an actress that make it more fake than it should be. The book Ms. Hale was passionate, solid, worthy, and someone equal to Mr. Thornton - that's what I was seeking. She became less pretty to me because I wanted the depth of acting and feeling as a match. Richard Armitage as Mr. Thornton makes my heart stop now. At first I didn't like his sharp appearance, and he still should smile more (the book has her finding his first beauty in his smile), but his sweet grin at the end was very nice. He has such range and depth for this character - spot on intuition in playing him, despite any directional changes. The only break would be the "I would like to play the overbearing master" line delivery - while hilarious to us, that would be more to us than Mr. Thornton, who was chaste as heck in his love - or rather, dropping to the feet of his love rather than imagining her in compromising positions. Book Mr. Thornton dreamed of poor Ms. Hale wrapping her arms around his neck to cry out her loss over her mom, and took elaborate pains to press and dry flowers. He has limited exploration or imagination of the hot, steamy passion we seem to like in film nowadays. The man's just happy to have a handshake!

Too many characters of a different sort - I'll continue in another post.

JenniferN said...

And the end of the book and the movie. I hated both at first, for different reasons. The dorky collar, like some 80s thing, was just not right. Margaret was very pretty there (why was she not in colors throughout?). The kiss of the hand would have been enough. Though Thornton's kiss now melts me, and I just pretend they're married, and it's not in the middle of blessed Grand Central Station. I looked it up, and engaged people could chastely kiss in public. I'm assuming the kiss is his idea of a proposal to meet hers. Just really tender kiss - he is mostly doing the kissing. And he is so happy at the end to take her home. I'm wondering where Margaret will stay - can she be unchaperoned in a hotel? Or can she stay at his home? That would be some fanfiction! But it's perfect in that they did need all that time to love that deeply. She had to change, and he had to change. They'll have such a good marriage of two equals.

In the book, it's even better. Henry wisely bows out and even tells his sister in law to keep the room private for them. Then Margaret keeps Thornton waiting for an hour, and he doesn't complain. She's yammering on about Henry helping her with the "proposal" and Mr. Thornton is still jealously thinking Henry has his girl. In the book, Margaret tells him he can recoup what he's lost. And she tells him that she has $18,057 pounds to give him - which is so specific. It's also a reversal. All Mr. Thornton had as the basis for growth in society was money and power. Now, he has neither, and yet he is still valuable to Margaret as someone in whom she wishes to invest everything she has, down to the penny. She wants to tell him it's a proposal - movie says proposition, which is just weird - and it is. He sees her messing about with the papers, and it finally gets through his thick head that she loves him. I don't know why she covers her face or calls herself not worthy. Is she still thinking of the lie? She is worthy - again, she is saving him.

I read that Gaskell was a Unitarian whose church believed in equal partnership of men and women - so this would fit. I don't know how he will feel about the money. We know he loved her without anything, and it would have been hard for the two of them to scrabble while he worked for Slickson or something, so this cash flow is just easier. I do NOT like her having to pay in kisses for those flowers. It's weird, capitalism love talk. And the that man/that woman thing is weirder still. But it is nice to think of the two of them finally blessed alone, in a quiet place, finally being able to express their love for each other. I imagine their life together as a good life. They are two of my favorite characters because of their honor and growth.

Anonymous said...

Hello! Has anyone else noticed the repeat in the film of the train journey? When Margaret is travelling in the fourth episode (either up to Milton or back down to London, I forget) with Mr Lennox, it is actually a repeat of her train journey with her father (now supposedly deceased) in the background, sitting next to her. Am I right? Anyone else noticed this?