Saturday, October 20, 2012

North & South (2004 BBC mini-series)

     I just finished watching an amazing mini-series!!! BBCs North & South based on Elizabeth's Gaskell's novel. I had heard of it and there seemed to be the same cult following similar to BBCs Pride Prejudice. My curiosity and intrigue was well fed, because once I saw the first episode I was completely in love with the story, the characters, the music, the costumes, all of it!

   Set in the in 1850s, lively, lovely, and outspoken Margaret Hale enjoys her life in the countryside of Helstone. Her idyllic world comes to a halt when her father uproots their family and moves to Milton, a cold, harsh city in industrial North of London. While there, Margaret finds unlikely friendship, courage, happiness, and most of all the most unlikely of men.

  ~ ~ ~
Daniela Denby-Ashe as Margaret Hale
     Margaret Hale is as kind and compassionate as she is strong and independent. From the very beginning, she is outspoken and not afraid to let her opinions be heard. Her genuine love for the people around her, whether they be in southern Helstone or northern Milton, is the base of her character.

     Margaret expects the absolute best of people regardless of their position in the society, which is why she becomes so loved by the lower working class people in Milton. At the same time, her generosity to the poor comes at strict odds with the upper class society who think that she is doing great damage by helping others considered below them. Nothing pleases Margaret more than proving people wrong and she gives herself wholeheartedly to those in need

     The only person that Margaret sees no hope for is John Thornton, owner Marlborough Mills.

~ ~ ~

Richard Armitage as John Thornton
      John Thornton is as cold as the Milton winds and as hard as the winter's ice. After his father committed suicide, leaving him and his mother and sister in poverty, John works his way up the social ladder, through hard work, iron will, determination and a mother who ceaselessly instilled all of these qualities into him. He becomes one of the most respected business in London as well as the most eligible.

     Margaret's first 'meeting' with Mr. Thornton is rather an unfortunate one, when she sees him beating an employer for smoking in the mill. John's reason for doing so is for the safety of the mill and the workers, but Margaret refuses to see any truth and writes Thornton off as a cruel and harsh taskmaster.

~ ~ ~

Brendon Coyle as Nicholas Higgins
     A leader of the union workers, Nicholas is fed up with the poor living conditions of his fellow workers and their families, while the wealthy are ignorant of the squalor around them. His oldest daughter, Bessy, befriends Margaret and eventually she is welcomed into the Higgins home.

     In spite of his revolutionary ways, Nicholas is calm and level headed. He wants a better life for his class, but not at the expense of harming others around him. Eventually, Nicholas becomes an ally to Thornton and helps him to develop better ways to improve the mill.

~ ~ ~

John & Margaret
     Revolution makes strange friends and even stranger love interests. After Margaret is attacked by a union worker, things begin to unravel between her and John. Over the course of the story John's cold will becomes warmed and sees the workers and the lower class in a different light. Margaret finds herself in even deeper trouble when she is caught in a scandal, but when Thornton covers it up, her opinion of him changes.

     Their story is similar to Darcy and Elizabeth's, only darker and grittier. Their ups and downs are are very real and heartbreaking. They both have been through love and loss, but through loss they find love again in one another.

~ ~ ~

    This is really a great watch; I loved the exquisite costumes and the extraordinary music. The history and romance were woven very well together, as well. The other characters in the series are well worth the enjoyment. Maragaret's loving parents and exiled brother, John's calculating mother and his insipid sister, and the hardworking Higgins family.

   The best part for me was seeing John and Margaret's transforming opinions of each other. Their different backgrounds, beliefs, and social attitudes become challenged during revolution and eventually mutual respect becomes unexpected love in a cold climate.

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