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North & South

Daniela Denby-Ashe , Richard Armitage    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 37.44
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North & South is 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. --Tom Keogh

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Saw It In One Sitting Sept. 8 2006
I bought the DVD with no expectations whatsoever. I had not read the book (I have now), I didn't know the actors by name (I do now), the only deciding factor was that the script was by Sandy Welch and I reeeeaaally love what she has done with Dickens' Our Mutual Friend. I am really glad I made this guess! I popped the DVD in the player, thinking naively that I would watch one episode then go to bed. Suffice it to say, I couldn't leave it and thus, went to bed very late! The way this story is crafted is both beautiful and captivating. I cannot be silent on Armitage's gripping performance. He embraced the role with abandon and I am sure we have not seen the last of him. Daniela Denby-Ashe is more subdued, but I am convinced it is quite fitting for her character and creates a very good balance to Armitage's intensity (the man has elevated brooding to an art form and gives a new definition to the word "smoldering"!). The score is very beautiful and it is almost a character in the story because it serves it so well. I highly recommend this DVD, particularly if you have a romantic soul or if you are very keen on 19th Century English litterature, in which case, it is a must.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the BEST ever - thank you BBC Nov. 14 2005
By A Customer
The most compelling story from an excellent novel, the tightest, leanest script by Sandy Welch, the superb cinematography and production design, make this the best period drama I have ever seen, it makes the others pale into comparision. It's a sad, funny, romantic, stirring story of loss, love and struggle that anyone can enjoy.. and I believe you will enjoy this. Buy two, because you will be lending it out to all your friends...
The actors are a fantastic ensemble, including the superb Sinead Cusack as Mrs Thornton the matriach, Daniela Denby-Ashe is the spirited and lovely heroine Margaret, and Richard Armitage who plays Mr Thornton is the most talented, brooding, smouldering, intelligent, moving and compelling leading man it has been my pleasure ever to witness.....this man was robbed of a BAFTA - he is nothing short of magnificent... ,
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard Armitage Rates an 11! Nov. 10 2005
I knew nothing of either "North and South" or Richard Armitage when I first sat down to watch this wonderful 4-part series.
But I sure did once I got up four hours later!
I knew that I'd discovered one of the best working actors I'd ever seen.
The other reviewers will undoubtedly cover the overall excellence of the production itself, the other actors, the music, etc. I just want to wax on about this amazing man who so totally infused John Thornton with his energy and talent.
Aside from his general "swoon-ability," he never hit a misstep. Every look, line delivery, and body movement was spot on! From the first time he opened his mouth to scream, "STEPHENS!" at the top of his lungs to his soft, boyishly joyful "Coming home with me?" at the end, I simply couldn't take my eyes of him.
He's not handsome in a traditional way. At first glance, I was rather dismissive of the much-heralded "Darcy" factor. He looked autocratic, harsh featured, and snarly as he was seen through a cloud of cotton fluff surveying the workers in his cotton mill. Two or three scenes later, when he smiled, I nearly fell onto my floor in a swoon. And I am not particularly given to giddy swooning as a general rule.
Unfortunately, the BBCA cut out nearly 14 minutes from each episode, so it wasn't until I watched the region 2 DVD that I bought from amazon.co.uk, that I saw some key missing scenes which explained the story development better. And of course, included with the "goodies" is a post-production interview with RA himself. I am looking forward to the release of the region 1 DVD next week.
I think that one of the main reasons that I enjoyed RA's portrayal so much was because he really brought a fully-developed male character to life in a Victorian drama.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OMG I *LOVED* this movie Dec 20 2006
I watched this movie without having read the reviews or the books.

For me, the gold standard was Pride and Prejudice (Firth as Darcy) and it has remained there for the better part of a decade. Just finishing the movie last night (I had to watch the movie one episode each night even though, like others, I *did* want to watch it all straight through), P&P has been soundly displaced by N&S. N&S is superior to P&P (comparing these as stand-alone movies, not novels or adaptations therefrom) in almost every respect.

The story, the drama, the cinematography, and the acting were excellent. My only complaint, if I had to provide one, was that the chemistry between the protagonists Margaret Hale and Thornton was a bit lacking (mind you, I didn't think that there was much chemistry between Darcy and Liz in P&P either).

What is odd and I think doesn't really get explained in the movie is why Thornton loves Margaret so much, given her constant rebukes on every attempt he makes to befriend her. It may be sheer beauty, but loving someone for their natural beauty can only take that person so far - it is rather hard to love a cold beauty for any appreciable length of time (I know I would tire of arrogant beauty very quickly).

It may be that it is initially beauty that he admires and that it evolves to also include her obstinancy in keeping to her principles. This pride is similar to that displayed his mother, so there may be Freudian tendencies at work.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Morethanpleased
This series is one of the best I have ever seen. Richard Armitage could do no wrong. He was born to become Mr. Thornton. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Marion
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Jane Austen
If you love Jane Austen-type stories, then I'm sure you'll love this too. One of the most romantic scenes ever, in my opinion - the train station scene. Sigh...
Published 1 month ago by KMM
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!!
One of my favorite romantic stories, Richard Armitage & Daniela Denby-Ashe were superb!. A definite must-see BBC drama, i recommend it.
Published 3 months ago by keni
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
Excellent cast and cinematography. Worth purchasing, especially if you are a fan of Richard Armitage. Close adaptation of the book.
Published 3 months ago by Reviewer
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome dvd's
I was relunctant to see The Hobbit thinking it would be a silly movie about dwarves...but, was pleasntly surprised and have since looked at everything Richard Armitage has... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Heather Reeves
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully made!
A wonderful series as only the British seem to be able to do. I bought this especially because Richard Armitage was the co-star. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mary Anne Drew
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoy this movie
I enjoy this movie more every time I watch it. Now I have my own copy. I expect to enjoy it many more times.
Published 6 months ago by Joyce McCallum
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This movie is one of our favorites. If you like costume drama, this is one of the best. The story deals realistically with the situation in England during the industrial... Read more
Published 8 months ago by George Jones
4.0 out of 5 stars Why FULL SCREEN? Why not 16:9 like the British version???
Many others have sung the praises of this film, and I join them in that. A story set at the rise of the Industrial revolution in England, the screenplay wisely embraces the ugly,... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Amelia S.
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved
I saw this on the internet and I wanted to buy it and listen on my tv..So good, this love story in the back-in time atmosphere
Published 10 months ago by LiLy
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