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The North and South Crusade: Part Deux

After much urging and fawning from Ana, and seeing the impressive Crusade on Kristie’s Ramblings on Romance campaign, I ordered the miniseries online and finally got a chance to watch it this weekend.

Holy crow, it is everything I could want and then some.

I’ve always been a fan of BBC miniseries, although nothing has ever come quite so close to the OG Pride and Prejudice miniseries from many years back. North and South is most certainly up to P&P caliber television.

I could not tear myself away from the tv to save my life. Both lead actors were perfection onscreen. Richard Armitage was captivating (and ridiculously yummy) as Mr. Thornton–a cotton mill master that not only worked his way up from the bottom, but is proud and firm handed with little tolerance for nonsense. Daniela Denby-Ashe shines as the beautiful and idealistic southerner Margaret Hale. The slow, at points painful, romance that unfolds between these two is breathtaking. It is obvious from their first meeting that there is an attraction between them, but their different ways and prejudices (being from the North and South) separates them (not to mention a slew of other obstacles).

The outstanding, electric romance aside, the series did a masterful job of portraying the incredible divide between the industrious north and the affluent, romanticized south. The scenes in the cotton mill, the reality of strikes and unions, the bleakness and cold chill of working life, it was all represented with flair and an authenticity that is hard to find. I especially loved the tensions equally represented on both sides of the worker/master strike–the union wasn’t seen as infallible in its ideals, nor were the masters show in a romanticized light. Both sides had valid pros and cons, and I was happy to see this smartly portrayed in the series.

Furthermore, all the secondary characters in this series only solidify my admiration. The lock-jawed and kinda creepy in a sort of Oedipal way character of Mrs. Thornton (John’s mother) is given life and dimension by the talented Sinead Cusack. Another important and fleshed out character is that of the union leader Nicholas played by the wonderfully passionate and charismatic Brendan Coyle.

Heck, even the SCORE is brilliant.

Like Ana before me, I also must highly recommend this series to everyone. Not just to the romantics (though the romance is wonderful!), but to everyone that loves a good story, good history, and quality acting.

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6 Comments

  • Kristie (J)
    February 4, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Thea!!!Yes!!! Yes!!! Happy Dance! Didn’t we tell you it was great! I’m so glad you watched it and love it like the rest of us. While the romance is very fine indeed, as you point out, the whole story line is fascinating. For me it’s perfection, from beginning to end. Some of the scenes that stand out
    the scene where Margaret first sees Mr. Thornton amongst the deadly but beautiful cotton and then the very next scene where he is beating up his employee – such a contrast.
    The look back at me scene – RA does such a fine acting job with just his eyes alone in that scene.
    All the scenes with Higgins and Thornton – they just come alive don’t they?
    And of course – the final scene at the train station which awes the romantic in me. And the music is beautiful too isn’t it? Everything about this series – well now you know why we’ve gone so mad over it *g*

  • Thea
    February 4, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    One of my favorite lines from the series is at the end of the first episode when Margaret is writing to her cousin and she says “I’ve seen hell. And it is white. Snow white.” *shudders* Deadly but beautiful cotton indeed! That same fluff that looks so pretty and romantic was killing people right there on the floor…just marvelously done.

    And the “look back at me!” scene. Guh. Talk about heartwrenching!

    Totally worth all the madness. I love it! Thanks for spreading the word–I probably never would have seen this if it weren’t for the Crusaders!

  • Marg
    February 4, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    Yay! Another crusader!! And just how many times have you replayed that final scene! All that passion in what in this day and age is very chaste kiss…and yet….oh, so sexy!

    So, are you ready to start buying everything else that Richard Armitage has ever been in now?

  • Deb
    February 5, 2008 at 1:10 am

    Well, I know I have – including his equally breathtaking audiobook, Lords of the North. 12 hours of the Richard Armitage voice of warm chocolate. Now that’s what I call addictive. Personally, I think they’re, a the moment, the bookends of his career. The look on his face when Margaret makes her decision about whether or not to go back to London; and the sound of his voice describing the first time he sees the woman he loves, in Lords of the North.

  • Marg
    February 5, 2008 at 1:15 am

    Hi Deb!!!

    I have downloaded the kids stories, and now my son wants to listen to them every night! LOL!!

  • Stacy~
    February 6, 2008 at 3:50 am

    Can I just say how much I love being a fellow crusader? It’s wonderful to read all these blog posts about the series because we all LOVE it so much. There are so many fabulous moments in it (most of them with Richard of course). Welcome Thea, to the crusade πŸ™‚

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