Well, I saw it. After nearly a year of saying I would, I finally watched North & South. I probably shouldn't have delayed it as long as I did -- sensing a pattern here? :P -- but it worked out nicely, because Momma and Daddy gave it to Bree and me for Christmas, making for a delightful surprise. Normally we borrow movies from the library before purchasing them (unless we saw them in the theater and are already certain of the quality of the content), but in this case, we all knew it was bound to be good, and we were willing to run the risk. And our assumptions proved correct.
North & South (2004)
Starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe
As the daughter of a middle-class parson, Margaret Hale has enjoyed a priviledged upbringing in rural southern England. But when her father uproots the family, she is forced to adapt to a new life in Milton -- a northern mill town in the throes of the industrial revolution.
Margaret is shocked by her new surroundings. Appalled by the dirt, noise and gruffness of the people of Milton, she saves her greatest contempt for the mill-owners. When John Thornton, charismatic proprietor of Marlborough Mills, becomes a "pupil" of her father, she makes her distaste for this vulgar and uneducated new class abundantly clear.
Over time, Margaret's attitude towards the mill workers begins to change and she joins their workplace struggles against poverty and disease. But will she ever change her view of their employers -- in particular, one who has secretly become her admirer?
My Thoughts: Although some of my siblings commented that this movie was "too sad," and "not cheerful enough," I found it to be a beautiful story with a beautiful ending. It has a plot rather similar to that of Pride and Prejudice, but is -- in my opinion -- a much more developed story. We actually get to see both sides of the story and grow to love Mr. Thornton just as much as we love Margaret. Pride and Prejudice, although a wonderful story, always seemed to me rather abrupt when it came to Lizzy and Mr. Darcy's love story. One gets to know every aspect of Lizzy's character and what she thinks of Mr. Darcy, and we think she's right -- who else are we to believe? . . . until the end, when, lo and behold, Mr. Darcy is good, kind, not as proud as he seems, etc., etc., etc. So, I confess, I do like Mr. Thornton better than Mr. Darcy; his character is much more rounded, by my way of thinking.
The interactions between the characters in N&S are beautiful. I loved Margaret's relationship with her father. Although he is shown to be rather confused about his beliefs (my one complaint with the film), she supported, defended, and loved him anyway. That is something you do not see often in movies, what with all the promotion of rebellion, disrespect, and "my parents don't understand me!" Mr. Thornton's relationship with his mother was also sweet; his protection of her and devotion to her, and her dependence on him and faith in his abilities were lovely things to behold. ♥
Pros: The story is much more dramatic and real to life than some other period dramas I've seen, including details about the outside world and not simply focusing on whether or not this young lady walked out with that young man, how many lumps of sugar you desire in your tea, what time the ball begins . . . you get the idea. In North & South, the characters are faced with real-life situations and how real people could have dealt with them. I felt very drawn in, and it was hard to stop each night when the clock approached bedtime. And the end was just. perfect. Aren't you just dying to know why? :)
Cons: Some violence when the factory workers go on strike; a character is wounded in the head -- for the sake of those who have not seen N&S, I won't say who; a man commits suicide/drowns; a few other characters die.
John Thornton: [When Margaret is leaving Milton in a carriage] "Look back at me."
Nicholas Higgins: "My poor Bess! She lived the life of a dog. Hard work and illness. She never had one moment of rejoicing. I'm not saying I don't believe in your God, but I can't believe He meant the world to be as it is. The masters ruling over us, the rest of us left to live a half-life in the shadows."
John Thornton: "Was... was it Miss Hale who told you to come to me? You might have said."
Nicholas Higgins: "And you've have been a little more civil?"
[Thornton glares at him and leaves]
Mrs. Thornton: "A mother's love holds fast and forever. A girl's love is like a puff of smoke -- it changes with every wind."
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars . . . but only because it wouldn't make sense to give it 12 out of 5 stars. :)