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|Index||73 reviews in total|
I hope there are high profile producers and directors who will seek out
a DVD of North and South to see the outstanding performance of Richard
Armitage. His charisma and talent are FAR, FAR BEYOND anything hyped up
in Hollywood in recent years (he makes Jude Law, just to take one
example, look like a grade school amateur).
This amazing performance should not be missed. I wish I had the means and knowledge to send copies of the DVD to all of the big independent producers, the studios, and directors.
This guy has "it" - talent, stature, intelligence, charisma. Anyone serious about acting should not miss Richard Armitage's performance.
Just what you need for a cold winter Sunday night! It's nice to have something to really get into, but the 4 weeks it was on went way too fast! The sets, costumes and acting were excellent, especially Richard Armitage's performance as mill owner John Thornton. He's got a brilliant deep, brooding sort of look about him, but with a softer, kind side too that is gradually revealed as the story goes on. The way Richard Armitage portrayed these two sides of Thornton's character was amazing. And as well as being a great actor, he's also very, very good looking! Nice smile (though we don't see it very often - so it's lucky he looks good when being moody/troubled!!)and a lovely voice. (sounds a bit like Sean Bean as a matter of fact!) Oh I'm going to miss this series! But honestly, not just because of Mr Thornton; it really was a gripping story and a great drama. The music was brilliant too, really capturing the mood and feel of the dark, industrial setting.
I'm a history teacher so I'm very critical of adaptations, especially those that sentimentalize the past in any way. This is a superb rendering of the spirit of the industrial age and the many facets of class struggle within it. It's also a richly romantic love story. The acting by all the cast is uniformly excellent but Richard Armitage as Thornton is a stand-out. The BBC is well-known for their meticulous attention to detail with locations and costumes. The working 19C mills used in the film are like watching a Jacob Riis photograph springing to life. The cinematography is gorgeous and the music is outstanding. This is the best historic fiction on screen I've ever seen.
North and South took me completely by surprise when it was aired on BBC America. I was flipping through channels and thought I was going to be tuning into the American version based on the John Jakes novels. But Elizabeth Gaskell's work on which the film is based is far more than a mere period romance. This is social commentary and a love story, the struggle of workers and masters/managers as well as the misunderstanding of the intellectuals that forms a triangle in the film that is still alive today. The lead characters all take on a social conscience that grows with their love for each other to an understanding of the different worlds that lived together in this time of radical change. But the true success of the film lies in the actors abilities to show the true emotion and change that takes place around them and in them during the course of the tale. It is unfortunate that the BBCA chose to cut out so much of the film and hopefully the DVD will be available soon for US viewers to force others into watching. A true diamond being lost in the rough. Do yourselves a favor and sit back and enjoy the excellent acting and story, then sit back and watch it again and take note of all the layers of social history being shown. Or just to watch Richard Armitage ;), sooooo good!
Elizabeth Gaskell may have invented the concept of the North/South divide in British society - some commentators think so. The adaptation of her novel makes it clear that although the North is viewed as a scary place for young Margaret Hale as she is forced to move there, she eventually falls in love with the working people she meets and with a mill owner, John Thornton, played movingly by Richard Armitage. I hope that people will find the social message of Gaskell's story relevant for today even though many viewers will be caught up in the central love story. The story deals with the infancy of the trade union movement and for those of us who had ancestors in the cotton industry, is very important in its portrayal of the dangerous working conditions. Reading the book is well worth the effort because it provides more insight in to the motivations of the characters and explains why they eventually grow to love each other. This is a very enjoyable TV drama and is worth repeating - hopefully the BBC will do so!
I thought this production was great - I highly recommend it to anyone
especially if they enjoyed Pride and Prejudice - It took you back to
another era and was thoroughly entertaining. The actors were great and
any red blooded woman would have had their pulses sent raising with
Richard Armitage's performance!
I also thought the sets and locations were fabulous - such details especially the 'snow' scene in the factory at the very beginning- spell binding!. So all in all even though certain details of Victorian conduct etc were thrown out of the window this production was brilliant!! I can't wait for the DVD to come out... It was so great I immediately read the book
Absolutely gorgeous period drama! As a huge fan of BBC's Pride and
Prejudice this has quickly become my favourite! Accurate casting,
fantastic costumes, authentic settings and the soundtrack really adds
to the quality of the series.
It has all the passion that Pride and Prejudice (Bless it!) lacks.
The story centers around Margaret Hale who moves from Helstone (the South) to Milton (the North). To begin with Margaret hates the bleak and industrial north and especially dislikes Mr Thornton who appears to Margaret to be cold and controlling, or are things not as they appear to be?
With "North and South" the BBC has continued its fine tradition of producing great adaptations. Indeed "North and South" is one of the very best the BBC has done, capturing the nuances of the novel perfectly and bringing out the latent eroticism of the book. The only quibble is the way the screenwriter has changed the ending from that of the novel. Although this will irk some, I thought the new ending was in keeping with the story as a whole. The acting throughout is superb, especially from Richard Armitage as the brooding Mr Thornton - he captures exactly the character's pride, brutality, warmth and passion. I think Richard Armitage would be a very good James Bond.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Top Twelve Reasons "North and South" is a ten: PRODUCTION VALUES:
Historic looms weave again. Lemon-yellow sunlight floods a garden's
translucent petals and leaves. Made me cry. Gave me chills.
MARTIN PHIPPS' HYPNOTIC SCORE: reminiscent of Gorecki; minimalism that drills past the kapital-K-krap of the last hundred years of pop culture and reaches something as fundamental as the beat of a human heart, the lungs' breath. Honors both one of the most wrenchingly intimate on screen moments ever and yet also the sweep of the Industrial Revolution.
SINEAD CUSACK: breathtaking as a ruthless matriarch; better, even than Nancy Marchand as a Mafia queen in "The Sopranos." POSTURE: Never has so much drama been milked out of actors' vertebrae. Helen Hayes' czarina pose in "Anastasia" was good, but Sinead Cusack's carriage and Richard Armitage's spinal column earn special Academy Awards.
PLOT TWISTS: I did not know where this one was going until the very last moment of the very last scene. Twists pulled me into the issues the plot engages, and made me engage them myself.
IT'S COMPLICATED: Leftist academics' pinko-tinged glasses depict the workers as beautiful and bosses as diabolical. But tycoon Andrew Carnegie, who brutalized his workers, was an epic philanthropist; workers scabbed, drank, and beat their kids. N&S depicts historical complications with its heroic/brutal workers/bosses. All characters are sometimes sympathetic, and sometimes utterly alienating - just like real life! A complex script works to earn our understanding, and our love, for complex human beings, the service, art, at its best, performs.
CHICK FLICK: "Fight, flight, or fix it" is a male response. Guy flix: explosions, chases, gadgets. "Tend and befriend" is a female response. We restore the world by ministering to its root: human hearts. N&S presents its heroine and its viewer with misunderstandings she must address; doing so, she matures, and we mature with her. Margaret's blossoming is an integral cog in a shock striking the world even today: the journey from tradition and pastoral beauty to sharp-elbow competition and industrial ugliness. Margaret's flailing culture shock and attempts to find, remain, and cultivate her best self under a rulebook she hasn't yet seen mirrors millions' struggle. Daniela Denby-Ashe limn's Margaret's triumph with honesty and grace. She's not afraid to be unlikeable; she's not even afraid to be noble.
MISOGYNY-FREE ZONE: We are so awash in misogyny, often fed by women themselves - who can forget the blow struck for women's dignity by celebrities who go out without their underthings? - that N&S is almost shocking in the respect it shows women. Margaret Hale has a front-row seat to one of the greatest upheavals in human history: industrialization. She takes on its rewards and woes. She makes decisions, engages with the powerful, grows and changes. And she does all this without once trivializing herself, or allowing anyone else to trivialize her. *And* she's accompanied by interesting women and girls, both rich and poor. That, alone, makes N&S worth more than a hundred critical darlings in which misogyny is an inescapable ingredient.
MORALITY. Christianity. HOPE. REMEMBER THOSE? Gaskell's book and this adaptation take on really hard challenges: workers v. capitalists, traditional rural life's poverty and its beauty v. laissez-faire capitalism's new opportunities, ugliness and anomie. N&S could have just exploited the Industrial Revolution as colorful backdrop; it didn't. N&S attempts to offer solutions and hope, based on fundamental Christian values like non-violence and sharing. Gee, what if the folks who had made the nihilistic downer film "Syriana," about our dependence on petroleum, had tried something similar? When the N&S boss and his workers sat down to a meal together, I cried cynicism-free tears. But . . . what WERE they eating? It looked like sludge. The redemption in the movie's key kiss is not just about eros, it's also about agape. And that made me cry. (Cried many times.)
BRENDAN COYLE AS NICHOLAS HIGGINS: Let's import Higgins, making sure he keeps that snazzy, puffy-sleeved shirt that displays his chest hair. He'd be a greater boost to the trade union movement than locating Jimmy Hoffa.
NOT A SINGLE WASTED CHARACTER, PERFORMANCE, OR SCENE: A bereaved husband converses with his late wife, as a maid looks on, her facial expression speaking volumes. A desperate man gazes at running water dyed purple. The most amazing scene of all, every bit as stunning as the famous crane shot in GWTW: a woman, her straw hat and bumpkin gait rendering her an agrarian silhouette in an industrial landscape, drawn by a seductive, menacing, thrum, walks up to a large wooden door, pulls it back, and steps into the Industrial Revolution. "I have seen hell, and it is white, snow white." Mebbe so. But that scene is cinematic heaven-on-earth.
RICHARD ARMITAGE: I don't even want to go there. Let's just say that I've just purchased the latest ticket to his crowded harem of adoring fans, and this: even if I had watched N&S with the sound turned off; Armitage's performance was so exquisitely articulate I could have transcribed pages of dialogue and backstory just from studying his face. But if I watched with the sound turned off, I would have missed the most arresting screen voice since Orson Welles, and the dreamiest since Ronald Coleman . . . Ladies, cave. Resistance is futile.
I had never read this book, but enjoy watching period dramas. I'm going to read the book now. I got into this in the first episode and I was gripped all the way through. I was rooting for Margaret and John to get together as it just had got to happen. Great portrayals by Sinead Cusack as John Thornton's mother and Jo Joyner as sister Fanny, she was funny. Brendan Coyle was great as Nicholas Higgins, showing us the worker's side of the story and what the unions were trying to do. Very believable acting from Richard Armitage as John Thornton and Daniela Denby-Ashe was lovely as Margaret. Thornton reminds me of similar sort of characters - Mr Rochester, Darcy. We need men like that.
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