Perhaps, I should start from the beginning. Ehm. Neglecting the fact that I should be doing some works for the weekend (and that I should save my account from bankruptcy), I walked into Angus & Robertson (yes, the very place I bought my Shakespeare Retold: Macbeth, in which my dear tall-dark-handsome-brooding Thornton played as Peter MacDuff) and, after starring at a Wolverine-like gentleman in Victorian clothing on a DVD cover, I snatched that said DVD and brought it home, feeling rather sorry for myself for spending an extra $30.
Still thinking of my unplanned purchase, I placed the North & South (2004) DVD. After a few scenes of green English countryside, the film moved towards grey areas of Milton, one of the centres for cotton industry in
Miss Hale was in fact the Victorian Elizabeth Bennet with less sharp tongue (but not less opinionated mind) with much smaller family (with a cute brave brother, but thank God: no senseless, idiotic sisters) who moved from Helstone in Hampshire (!) to a fictional town called Milton, somewhere in northern England, closer to Scotland. I cannot blame her for her negative opinions towards
But we, Margaret and I, were wrong. It turned out that Thornton punched his worker for smoking inside the cotton mill; whereas smoking was strictly prohibited due to incidental fire in the mill several years ago that killed many workers (this scene was not in the original novel, but I think it was a bloody brilliant idea!). Plus,
But of course, as in all love stories, things did not go smoothly between Thornton and me... I mean, Margaret. Almost the Victorian Pride & Prejudice in the rocky love story between a lady and a gentleman, North & South
Episode Three came with Mrs. Hale’s worse condition. To lessen her mother’s anxiety, Margaret had invited Brother Frederick secretly from
For Leonard died, and an investigation was done to examine the cause of death. Someone else saw Margaret during the Leonard fight, hence , Police Inspector Mason, had to interrogate Margaret who of course denied her presence at the station. Consequently, Mason consulted the local magistrate, who was none other than John Thornton. Though surprised that Margaret concealed the fact that she had been at the station with ‘a stranger’,
Many interesting things happened in Episode Four, the last episode of the excellent BBC miniseries. First, about Nicholas Higgins (Brendan Coyle), a good friend of Margaret, also the father of Bessy Higgins, Margaret’s close friend in Milton (Bessy died in Episode Three; Anna Maxwell Martin played her well, just as she played Cassandra Austen in Becoming Jane). Nicholas had been adamant not to work again at any mills, but upon the death of Boucher (one of the workers), he felt responsible and took Boucher’s six children. Thus, Nicholas needed fresh cash. And, after being persuaded by Margaret, he swallowed his pride and asked for
Nicholas and Thornton experienced interesting shifts in their relationship. First: enemies. Second: master-worker. Then, after
And what of Margaret? Well, her mother passed away, also later her father. She was left an orphan, but a rich one nonetheless, for Mr. Bell (her godfather) left her a huge amount of money. In the end, she was the one who saved Thornton’s mill from bankruptcy, but not before a painful farewell under the falling snow (for she would need to move to London first), and not before Thornton’s romantic visit to Helstone, just to inhale the breeze of Margaret’s childhood place and accidentally picked her favourite yellow rose. The last scene at the Midland Central Station was the one of the most romantic scenes, where our hero and heroine accidentally met and shared a sweet tender kiss on the platform. Who says that a tender kiss is not sexy?! It’s effectively making you wanting for more, not unlike the scene where Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway) and Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy) almost shared a kiss under the candle light in
Authoress Elizabeth Gaskell (who eerily looked like Mrs. Hale) might have based Margaret on Jane Austen’s Lizzy Bennet (and Thornton on Fitzwilliam Darcy), but North & South (1854) is considerably a different story from Pride & Prejudice (1813) altogether. PP is much more merry and shiny than NS, and I have to admit that, though I love Lizzy Bennet (Jennifer Ehle’s version), I never truly enjoyed Mr. Darcy (not even the combination of Colin Firth’s brooding and Matthew Macfayden’s sensitivity). I guess, Darcy is not my brooding type after all.
But John Thornton! Gosh… if I’m falling head over knee like this over Richard Armitage’s
Did I say that I spent AUD 30 for the four episodes, double DVD? Though I had felt rather sorry for spending money in the first place, in the end I did not regret it. Never, never, never. NS 2004 is one of the best costume dramas I’ve ever seen. I have to say that it’s on par with Becoming Jane. Yes, even the intense chemistry between Margaret & Thornton, though not in the same speed and turbulence with Jane/Tom... the Margaret/Thornton chemistry was certainly very intense, and I could not think of another Margaret other than Daniela's. God knows how many tissues I needed last night (and this morning for the replay) to clean my face from the tears that ran erratically during the four-hours show. Conclusion: watch it if you have not, and if you can, buy the DVD. Never a bad decision. In fact, like Becoming Jane, I might buy the second copy myself for precaution!
PS2: Thanks to Montevideana for this link of a cheeky virtual conversation between Lizzy Bennet and Margaret Hale. I agree with the writer that Lizzy/Darcy should double date with Margaret/Thornton!
Pic 1: John Thornton (Richard Armitage), from Richard Armitage Online
Pic 2: DVD cover to North & South 2004, Sofa Cinema UK
Pic 3: John Thornton amidst the snowy cotton, from Richard Armitage Online
Pic 4: Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe), from Wikipedia
Pic 5: North & South BBC banner, from BBC UK
Pic 6: Nicholas Higgins (Brendan Coyle) and John Thornton. From Richard Armitage Online
Pic 7: Farewell under the snow fall, from Richard Armitage Online
Pic 8: Prelude to the final kiss, from Richard Armitage Online
Pic 9: The final KISS at the station! From Richard Armitage Online
Pic 10: Going back to