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North & South

April 3, 2009

Anyone who knows me also know that I love to watch period piece British love stories. Whether it’s Sense and Sensiblity (with the always lovely Emma Thompson) or a retelling with a twist like Lost in Austen (which apparently is being release on DVD here in the US in a couple weeks) or the BBC masterpiece Pride & Prejudice, I can’t get enough of this type of movie. So when I heard of the BBC drama North & South on a blog awhile back (and forgive me, since I can’t seem to remember which blog it was) I right away added it to my Netflix list.

As described on

North & Southis a splendid, four-hour adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s 19th century novel about an unlikely, and somewhat star-crossed, love between a middle-class young woman from England’s cultivated south and an intemperate if misunderstood industrialist in a hardscrabble, northern city. Daniela Denby-Ashe plays Margaret Hale, forthright and strong-willed daughter of a former vicar (Tim Pigott-Smith) who relocates his family from a pastoral village outside London to unforgiving, largely illiterate Milton, a factory town where John Thornton (Richard Armitage) and his mother (Sinead Cusack), survivors of poverty, rule their cotton mill with an iron hand. Thornton befriends Margaret’s father but incurs her wrath for his severity with his workers. What she doesn’t notice is Thornton’s core sense of responsibility for his employees’ welfare. On the other hand, he misinterprets some of Margaret’s own actions and intentions. Equally stubborn, the two drag out their obvious attraction over many painful months and events.

North & South‘s two leads are both very good, though Armitage’s brooding, penetrating performance may very well be considered a classic one day. There are other wonders in the cast: Cusack and Pigott-Smith are superb, and Brendan Coyle is memorable as a firebrand union organizer who ultimately becomes an ally to a softening Thornton. The miniseries script by Sandy Welch is a persuasive mix of historical context and character study. Brian Percival’s direction is full of moments that linger in the imagination, such as the winter-dream look of a busy cotton mill, with thousands of snowy fibers floating in the air.

If you like these types of movies, then I would highly recommend watching North and South. The musical score is haunting, the actors are all top notch and it’s visually stunning. It was a really great movie and kept me interested even though it’s almost four hours long. Plus Richard Armitage gives Colin Firth a run for his money as far as handsome brooding males go!

Do you have any suggestions of other romantic movies that I might like? Do tell!

Also, my sister is having a book giveaway on her blog – please stop by and leave a comment for a chance to win!

14 Comments leave one →
  1. April 3, 2009 2:46 pm

    North and South is about the ultimate. I discovered it last summer and blogged about it until all my family and friends followed suit and watched it. I can’t say that I can think of one that rivals it. I’ll think on it and get back to you if I come up with another!

  2. April 3, 2009 2:57 pm

    Have you read North & South yet? It quickly became one of my favourites. Other awesome romantic movies you might enjoy…. There is a Wives & Daughters mini series which is fabulous…. and Jane Eyre (2006) with some positively brilliant moments (also some positively cheesy ones, but let’s not think on that!).

  3. April 3, 2009 3:15 pm

    Oh, back when I was in high school I saw The Frenchman’s Creek on Masterpiece Theater. I was smitten. It’s a bit cheesy now but, well, I love the cheesy period piece romance movies.

  4. April 3, 2009 7:08 pm

    Oh my goodness I can’t wait to rent it! It is a DVD? Looks like my kind of movie! Thanks 🙂

  5. April 3, 2009 8:25 pm

    I love all of the movies you wrote about too!! Can’t get enough of them. My friend Jo-Ann told me about North and South but I have yet to watch it. Thanks for posting about it!!

  6. April 5, 2009 1:21 am

    I’ve been thinking about getting this from Netflix for awhile. I’ll have to go ahead and do it!

  7. April 5, 2009 8:00 am

    I love this mini-series so much. That final scene is one of my favourite romantic moments on screen ever!

  8. April 6, 2009 5:45 pm

    I would say if you liked North and South, you should check out Wives & Daughters and Cranford, both based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s novels. As much as I love Jane Austen, I have a sweet spot for Gaskell’s adaptations. And if it’s British drama you’re looking for, have you seen Forsyte Saga or Daniel Deronda??

  9. April 6, 2009 7:31 pm

    I LOVE North and South too! Have you seen Wives and Daughters? It’s also a really great one.

  10. April 6, 2009 8:28 pm

    Oooh, I’ll have to look for North and South!!

  11. April 7, 2009 9:49 am

    I watched this on tv when we were living in the UK, and remember it being really good. I bought the book but haven’t read it yet.

  12. April 8, 2009 12:54 pm

    “a retelling with a twist like Lost in Austen (which apparently is being release on DVD here in the US in a couple weeks”

    What’s this? It’s coming out on DVD? This is totally off the subject but that’s the best news I’ve had all day! =)

  13. April 9, 2009 2:44 am

    Oh god, I adored North and South. I read the book first, loved it. Then I saw the adaptation with the really hot Richard Armitage! Fell in love!

  14. Patti permalink
    September 17, 2010 7:54 pm

    There is a new musical adaptation of North and South, workshopped just recently in Colorado (Dairy Center for the Arts). For more information, please visit

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