Movie Review: North & South (2004)

25 January 2012


This post is for you, Gwen. :)

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
*Summary taken from the back of the movie

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. 

Memorable Quotes:

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. :)

18 epistles:

  1. Oh yes yes yes! The ending is superb. Okay. So the kiss is a little long but oh my stars is it sweet!!!! :)I really appreciated the reality of this film too! It was really cool to see a period drama set in a different area and setting!

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  2. I love, love, LOVE North and South! We watched it as a family a couple of years ago and I watched it last summer by my self when I was by my self the whole day. Have you ever watched Cranford and Wives and Daughters? They are also written by Elizabeth Gaskel who wrote the book North and South. We love both of those, too. Cranford is one of my absolute favorites. I think we've watched that three times now and we want to start it again soon. (And the music is soooo good in all three movies. Especially in North and South. It just draws you into the movie and has so much character.)

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  3. Oh, I simply adore North & South! It is one of my favorite period dramas! It is such a wonderful movie... I love how it has so much more to it than your usual period drama. Ah, yes, I love this movie to little bitsies! (and wasn't the music fantastic?)

    ~Nessima
    of Arda Nessimava

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  5. I LOVE this movie! I want to watch it again. And I love the makeover on your blog. :D

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  6. Ahhh! I love North & South!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) It is one of my all time favorites! :) I LOVE Richard Armitage, he is one of the most amazing actors I have ever seen.
    I love how you have two perspectives in this move, it is one of the big reasons why I love it. And I have decided that Mr. Thornton is way better than Mr. Darcy. LOL :)
    I really enjoy your review.
    ~Elizabeth

    PS. Who could forget the "look back at me" quote! :)

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  7. I just watched N&S not too long ago myself and I think it is absolutely amazing and beautiful and the end was definitely the most memorable part of the movie :)

    I do have to say that while Mrs. Thornton did seem to be loving she seemed sorta over protective...just what I thought though...anywhoodles! glad to read this :)

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  8. I would give it 12 out of 5 myself. :) We all watched it a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. Yes, it is sad at times, but the sadness makes the end that much more sweet.

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  9. I love North and South. I don't own it, but I've been watching it on YouTube while I fold laundry. :)

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  10. I also long to see this sweet movie... I am in the middle of reading it and cherish it's pages... your review was wonderful, and a joy to read.

    Blessings,
    ~Shannon~

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  11. This is definitely one of the best period dramas. But, I don't think the ending was very good. Because in the time period that it was set in, they would never had kissed in the train station in front of everyone. It just would never had happened. It was still considered wrong to kiss in front of people. And I actually don't think that Mr. Thornton was that good. yeah he did change, but he still wasn't that good of a person. But then again, he didn't marry the best person ever either :D .

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  12. I love this movie, as does my Mom! We really enjoyed watching it together! I hope I can find it on DVD to buy one day. :)

    Your new blog look is lovely! I like the simplicity of it, but I also love that you have a patterned background! I am getting tired of all these plain black or white backgrounds.

    Rabbit trail there. ;)

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  13. Oh and you have some lovely music on your playlist! I never comment, it seems, so I am always forgetting to let you know what I like/don't like! :)

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  14. This movie is one of my favorites - if not my favorite! I said something similar after I first watched it - Much like Pride and Prejudice, but better! And when Thornton says, "It was her brother!" and Higgins is just smiling at him... *LOVE* it! I'd better go watch it again right now! =)

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  15. I watched this series with my parents a while ago and we really enjoyed it! However I was a little skeptical about Thornton because I have seen several movies where that actor was the "bad guy" who made everyone's life horrible; but it the end of this one I guess he turned out ok, lol. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it, I enjoyed reading them!

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  16. Beautiful review, Elizabeth! I'll have to watch North & South...it sounds wonderful! :)

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  17. North and South is wonderful!!

    This is a bit random, but you mentioned the one-sidedness of Pride and Prejudice. I completely agree here. We hear a bit about how Darcy is attracted to Elizabeth, but then he leaves so abruptly. We hear much more about the ills of his character. I would recommend reading "An Assembly Such as This" (part of a trilogy) which is basically P&P from Darcy's POV. I would also recommend another book like this called "The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy" by Mary Street. This is a stand-alone novel, but it follows the same idea. Both these books really give an interesting perspective about what Darcy is feeling, since we already know what Elizabeth Bennet is feeling.

    I do agree that Mr. Thornton was much more developed within the movie/book. Which is definitely a pro.
    Lovely review!


    --Liz B

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  18. This review is PERFECT! Mmm...you know how much I LOVE this movie! (and Mr. Thornton. Unabashedly. ;) )

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