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Today I Shall Behave as if This is the Day I Will be Remembered
So, I watched North & South 
9th-Jan-2013 08:49 pm
North & South
I love it. A lot. I'm hoping to read the book (I keep reading, and my reading list never gets any shorter!).

I haven't brainpower to put any kind of organized response together, but since I tend to babble on about this sort of thing I thought I'd share a few thoughts.

I love the relationship between Thornton and his mother. Of everything, I think that was my favourite. It was brilliant, the way she and Fanny were introduced – they're cast right off the bat as snooty and self-important, and then everything gets wonderfully turned around so that you see that it's Margaret and her mother, really, who are being self-important.

I love Mrs. Thornton's fierce protectiveness of her son. And there's that one line, when they're going broke and Thornton says "at least Fanny's taken care of" – that whole scene was so, so good, because it really captured how they two had pulled each other up from nothing, and were falling back down again, and how Fanny had always been a frivolous outsider to it all. I love how both she and Thornton, too, are cast as morally ambiguous regarding their treatment of the workers. They're hardliners, both of them – clearly having no compunction about employing children or starving people into coming back to work. They're assholes, in that regard at least, but complex ones, and ones that are easy to empathise with and I love that.

Fanny was wonderful as well. She was a bit two-dimensional, but as a side-character that was totally OK. But that scene, after Margaret is hit by the rock, and she's panicking and fanning her was absolutely hysterical.

I loved the depiction of the poor as well – and the whole atmosphere of the city. I thought they sort of over-did it when it came to Hampshire, with the day-glo lighting and whatnot, but the grubby, filthy, atmosphere of Milton was perfect. Bessie was wonderful too.

The only character that I wasn't 100% in love with was Margaret, really. If only because I felt like her development was kind of odd. I loved the character arc in principle – and I love her drive, and her intense awkwardness (oh, god, she was so awkward sometimes), and her bluntness. When she was turning Henry and Thornton down, she said something along the lines of "I don't know how to reject people politely", which I thought was a great line (and a great delivery) – because it is hard, especially when they're taking everything the wrong way.

But after the botched proposal, I felt like she was oddly unwilling to speak up for herself at all. I mean – she'd been ridiculously blunt up until that point, and it wasn't clear to me whether she regretted refusing him, or simply regretted insulting him. If she regretted refusing him, I'm a bit surprised she didn't try harder to speak to him properly (she threw herself out infront of an angry mob!), and if she just regretted insulting him, then I find the turn-around at the end pretty abrupt.

I don't think I'm articulating this very well.

But on the whole I thought it was really, really awesome.
10th-Jan-2013 11:54 am (UTC)
I LOVED this series ( I also have that book on my to be read pile, Hah!) and I thought that they depicted the class struggle and the factory situation very well. If I ever teach the Industrial Revolution, this would be a good part to show. I really enjoyed it.

I was quite taken by Margaret, to be honest and found the last part as an extension of how her character was maturing and understanding, but awkward with it.

Thronton was amazing. I was very impressed with Armitage's portrayal of him and felt he added a whole lot to the character.
11th-Jan-2013 02:58 am (UTC)
I have to give them major props for the depiction of class struggles – it's not my area of expertise, but from what I do know, it was pleasantly free of whitewashing.

Margaret is so awkward. I love it. I like her a lot – I just felt there was something of an abrupt jump at the end. I'm curious to see how it pans out in the book (I couldn't help but start reading it), since I wasn't clear from the film at what point she decided she liked him after all.

The whole Thornton clan were pure gold. I love them all.
12th-Jan-2013 12:51 pm (UTC)
Sorry for the late reply. China's firewall is super picky sometimes, so I can't log on to LJ some days.

I teach history and it really does fit with how it has been described in my texts and whatnot. I think that those dramas are always very good at depicting those kinds of scenes, though. Hence their popularity, I would imagine.

Oh man! I'm just waiting till I get to Europe to get another copy from my pal! I left mine somewhere. Now I must read it. Thanks for reminding me of how much I liked it.

Oh they were great! They really were a great antidote to Margaret's family.
11th-Jan-2013 02:47 am (UTC)

I've watched this miniseries waaaay too many times and every time I watch it I love Mrs. Thornton more. The scene with her and Margaret in the abandoned mill just breaks my heart; she's so strong, so very very strong, but she has just one vulnerability left. I positively worship Mrs. Thornton.

Also, Armitage is pretty damn wonderful in it.

(I quite enjoyed the book when I read it, but OH GOD if you thought the romantic tension was bad in the movie, it's 100x worse in the book. They never so much as kiss; their huge romantic moment is that, at the end, they HOLD HANDS. So Victorian.)
11th-Jan-2013 02:54 am (UTC)
Mrs. Thornton is my spirit animal and I'd like to be her when I grow up. I've started reading the book (thank god for the Gutenberg Project!), and SHE ABSOLUTELY ROCKS MY SOCKS.

That scene at the end was phenomenal. In fact, pretty much every second she or Fanny were on screen, I was ecstatic. I would watch the hell out of a Thornton family sitcom.

I think I like book!Thornton more - at least so far. And there's a lot more exposition about his thoughts on the mill and the strike that didn't make it into the film, I think. I suspect this is going to lead to me reading everything by Elizabeth Gaskell I can get my hands on, because I think she's wonderful.

LOLOLOL HAND HOLDING. OF COURSE. S'ok. I'll just go and write my own smutty fics to make up the difference. :P
11th-Jan-2013 04:14 am (UTC)
If you would actually write Thornton/Margaret smut I would DIE of happiness. I've been looking for that since I first got hooked on this what, four or five years ago?

I highly recommend the rest of Ms. Gaskell's works (although be aware that Wives and Daughters was unfinished) and also the other miniseries made out of them - Cranford, of course, featuring Dame Judi Fucking Dench, and Wives & Daughters, which I think is actually my favorite of the bunch. (Victorian science!)
11th-Jan-2013 04:29 am (UTC)
I'm seriously considering it – there's a definite dearth. Not like I don't have another eleventy billion writing projects on the go, or anything.

HOW DID I NOT KNOW THAT SHE WROTE CRANFORD?! I love that series. SO MUCH. Ok, there's no question about it – I am going to have to read through everything she's ever written.
12th-Jan-2013 01:18 am (UTC)
I bought the DVD a couple of weeks ago and I'll hopefully be watching it shortly. And then I'm totally gonna come back to this post and check out your thoughts on it!
12th-Jan-2013 05:19 am (UTC)
I am in love with it – and the book. The book is fantastic.

I hope you'll like it too! Let me know what you think. :) And then we can sit and shout about how devastatingly handsome RA is in victorian dress. Because... gnuh. If I have a clothes kink, it is definitely victorian.
30th-Jan-2013 11:44 pm (UTC)
I finished North and South yesterday and I just want to make flaily incoherent noises about it because it was just SOOOO GOOD. It's definitely one of my favourite period drama adaptations.

I really loved how Thornton and Higgins resolved their differences and realised they had more in common than they previously thought. And Thornton going to see the orphan children and paying for the boy's education - I practically melted; I can't cope with Richard Armitage being all broody one minute and then smiling at children the next.

And I really liked that it ended with the woman offering the man security through marriage, and not the other way around. I don't think I can recall any other books from the same time period doing anything like that.

But I found the whole thing really interesting - the fact that it was about the class divide and striking, but how fairly it was portrayed on both sides really surprised (and impressed) me. I was expecting the side of the masters' to be demonised, but it really wasn't.

30th-Jan-2013 11:59 pm (UTC)

Especially the bit about her offering him security through marriage. I love love love Gaskell's depiction of women – of all kinds of women, with sympathy. So, so much love for her writing.

And I think North & South is my favourite of what I've read of hers so far because of the depiction of the class struggle (though Cranford's got some lovely bits about 'elegant economy' – how all the major landowners in the town are little old ladies, and they agree not to mention finances because some have a lot and some have not much, and they all spend conservatively to make each other feel comfortable). It's the same with the questions about religion brought up in the book – she's got a very live and let live attitude… She's happy to see both sides, but she's disinclined to take one or the other.

4th-Feb-2013 12:18 am (UTC)
Urgh, delayed reply is terribly delayed, sorry

Yes, I really like how the story looked at both sides of issues but didn't come to any conclusions - it raises the discussion without preaching to you. I especially liked Margaret's retort about ignorance to the clergyman living in her father's old parish. I was really surprised to see a female character talking like that to someone in a respectable position, and it was fantastic!

I haven't actually read any of Gaskell's work, and I have got to rectify that in the future!
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