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600 of 613 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mindful Escapism
I watched the series last year and was very impressed with the production, especially the beautiful design and camerawork. And, yes, with Richard Armitage too. (I'm only human.)

So I was looking forward to receiving the dvd- I had plans to maybe ration out my viewing; watch half an episode here and there. But, of course, that all went out the window when my dvd...
Published on 22 April 2005

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars North & South (Complete BBC Series) [DVD]
I enjoyed this drama, actually brought this DVD by accident, right title wrong DVD; but was not disappointed. Story line a bit similar to pride & prejudice
Published 22 months ago by Ruth


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600 of 613 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mindful Escapism, 22 April 2005
By A Customer
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This review is from: North & South (Complete BBC Series) [DVD] (DVD)
I watched the series last year and was very impressed with the production, especially the beautiful design and camerawork. And, yes, with Richard Armitage too. (I'm only human.)

So I was looking forward to receiving the dvd- I had plans to maybe ration out my viewing; watch half an episode here and there. But, of course, that all went out the window when my dvd arrived. I got home late last night and decided I'd just have a peek at the first episode before I went to bed. So, at 1am, I snuggled up with my electric blanket, a mug of tea and a large box of maltesers, and then promptly fell back in love with this wonderful adaptation. I watched all 4 episodes again. Then I watched the special features- the deleted scenes (nothing that scintillating, but there is a slightly extended proposal scene, and a few others from the first episode); the interview with Richard Armitage (charming fellow... I'd say more, but I think you're all familiar with the Armitage appeal *loosens collar*), and then I read through the extra production notes and even watched a bit of the commentary episodes (1 and 4).

So I ended up getting to sleep at 6am. But it was worth it. This dvd transfer looks wonderful, and fortunately, unlike many money-spinners, it hasn't been assembled hastily or sloppily. There are optional subtitles, the sound and picture quality are first rate, and the extras really are worth taking a look at. And, of course, you get all four episodes of a 5 star production to treasure time and again.

As for the production itself- it's a gem. The real strengths lie in the excellent camerawork and attention to historical detail in costume and set design. The direction has a light touch, and the screenplay is, for the most part, subtle and well-paced. The specially composed music from Martin Phipps is hair-raisingly lovely. As for the performances- the supporting cast is watertight, first rate acting all round. Sinead Cusack is utterly convincing as Mrs. Thornton. I have to be honest, though- when I watched the series last year, I felt that if there was a weak link at all then it was Daniela Denby-Ashe as Margaret Hale. To be fair, I think this weakness is only apparent because of the excellence of the rest of the cast, but I did find her performance a little self-conscious and heavy-handed in parts. I found myself thinking about her acting rather than being submerged in her story when I first watched the series, something that I didn't do with the rest of the cast. Then again, it didn't stop me from enjoying the series second time round, so maybe she's growing on me.

As for Richard Armitage as John Thornton... well, what can I say? I think I'm running out of superlatives. I remember watching the first episode and being completely seduced by the striking image of the ethereal whiteness of the mill interior and Thornton's dark angel character striding, in black, across the screen. But after the violent confrontation with the mill hand, I really did actively dislike Thornton's character. So I think that part of the power of the series was that, as a viewer, you made the same journey with Margaret of discovering what made Thornton tick, the influences that had shaped him, and the innate decency underneath his sharp exterior. We shared in that seduction. Armitage gives a very complex, sensitive performance which really did move me in certain scenes, and I'm not at all the easily moved type. To put it simply- he was completely convincing.

So, if you're contemplating treating yourself to this dvd, then please don't hesitate. I have a feeling that this will stand as one of the BBC's period classics. It's certainly a magical way to spend a few hours. So, go on, treat yourself.
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220 of 226 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply captivating and Armitage's acting is fantastic!!, 27 Aug 2006
This review is from: North & South (Complete BBC Series) [DVD] (DVD)
Like some of the reviewers on Amazon, I didn't see the film on TV because French TV seldom broadcast British films like Pride and Prejudice and North&South. But luckily for me, I have a strong liking for everything that is English (cinema, literature, theatre and music) and I am always deeply interested in what British TV can produce. I've seen the BBC Pride and Prejudice many times (I've also read the book) I like it -even though my preference goes to the new 2005 movie (sorry, can't help it)- and I am even familiar with Elizabeth Gaskell's work (I've read Mary Barton and I've started reading North&South). So, on reading the positive reviews on Amazon and on the BBC website, I decided to buy it, although I knew little about the whole story. My God, I never imagined that this BBC film could be so good! I can't even describe how I felt when I first watched the first episode except that I became completely hooked and I couldn't stop watching until I knew how it ended. And what an end!!! Wow! Now I can only say that it has even eclipsed the BBC P&P film in my heart. It is more romantic anyway! Everything is perfect, the cast, the setting, the photography (the image of cotton flakes in the mill), the dialogues, the music, the social background. The background definitely adds another interesting layer to the film because you can see both sides, the mill owners' and the workers' and you can see them working. All the characters are marvellous and so likeable. They really make a difference for me because they are down-to-earth, they have depth and there is always a certain dignity about them.
We can thank Elizabeth Gaskell for creating such wonderful characters, yet they wouldn't make such an impression in the film if the actors weren't so great. They really got into their parts. Sinead Cusack is a magnificent Mrs Thornton, you may have the impression that this iron lady always controls her emotions but you just look through her and realize that she is not as cold or hard as she seems, especially when you take full measure of the depth of her love for her son. What a great mother she is! And what about Brandon Coyle/ Higgins, I mean, I've just talked about the dignity of the characters, here is a fine example, you just have to look at the face of this union leader to know that he is at heart a good man, even though he is a bit ruthless sometimes. Even jobless or heartbroken, he remains dignified and calls for respect. Jo Joyner as Thornton's sister is a delight, probably the only source of comic relief in the story.
And of course, the film wouldn't be so brilliant if there wasn't Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage in the parts of Margaret and Mr Thornton. Daniela portrays both the vulnerability and the strength of the heroine very well. As for Thornton, oh, God, What a man! I fell in love with this fascinating character. Of course, Richard Armitage is already so charismatic that you can't take your eyes off him. But the actor is especially fantastic because he makes the character so alive on screen. He is Thornton! I can't believe I am saying that but `forget Darcy, Thornton is so much better'. I mean the man is so dedicated to his work, -and contrary to Darcy, he has known poverty and he has had to fight back-that I can't help being impressed. Out of nothing but using his wits, he has been able to run a fine business and when we first meet him, he is a well-off and powerful mill owner. His position in society makes him arrogant and brutal, yet, he remains fair with his workers and, thanks to Margaret, becomes more aware of the living conditions of the working class. So here you have strength, intelligence and integrity in one man; and, at the same time, his love for Margaret makes him completely vulnerable. Oh, the way he looks at her! (sigh) It is incredible what the two actors can produce on screen. In the proposal scene, the interaction between them is really intense. There is so much passion on their faces and in the way they respond to each other that it is breathtaking. I was really shaking inside. (I always feel a bit frustrated by the BBC P&P, although the actors are excellent, because the film sticks too much to the book. And I wish that we could see more touching of hands or more signs of passion between Firth and Ehle. Thankfully, here, the film, North &South, is not completely faithful to the book especially concerning the dialogues and so they have more impact in the film. The ending scene, in particular is so beautiful that it always brings tears to my eyes. Is it due to R. Armitage's magnetism on screen or to the tenderness that is palpable between them when they talk or when they look at each other or to the way they touch each other's hands with the sweet music behind? I can't tell. All I can tell is that Mr Thornton and Margaret Hale have become as dear to me as Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet! Enjoy! This is a jewel!
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different and SuperbThis is a bit different to your usual period romance drama. Rather than the romance being the main and some, 27 Aug 2007
This review is from: North & South (Complete BBC Series) [DVD] (DVD)
This is a bit different to your usual period romance dramas from Austen, the Brontes etc. Rather than the romance being the main, and sometimes the only reason for the story, this is a bit more like Dickens, although not as convoluted as Dickens can get. The romance is only one element of the story, and here the romance is used to illustrate the North/South boss/worker social divide which are the essential themes of the novel.

Even so, this romance has become my favorite of all time, and when combined with the extra dimensions to the story, and the wonderful depth given to all the characters, North and South is my favorite drama.

All aspects of the production are outstanding and all performances so good that it seems unfair to highlight one, but I will anyway. Richard Armitage as John Thornton is the core without which it may not reach the level that it does, because some of its most beautiful moments for me, which are sometimes quite small moments, are due to his mesmerizing performance.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Beautiful and Moving, 4 April 2008
By 
H. Aabybro "Global" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: North & South (Complete BBC Series) [DVD] (DVD)
I bought this DVD and have watched it again and again and again. It is so heartfelt and so moving, so well acted, beautiful music, it is faultless. What I loved about this, was it gave a rare insight into life of different classes in Northern England in the 1800's, we are given a taste of the differences in manners and etiquette of Northerners and Southerners, and the snobbery that existed and to a degree still exists between people from the North and South of England. But for me it was how we are journeyed into the live's of the characters, who come from both the upper and working classes, seeing the very real struggles and working conditions of the working classes and what they endured. There is a beautiful and subtle development of love between the main characters, who are so contrasting in nature but are so well suited, the imagery set against an absolutely beautiful music score, means that North and South just does not leave an impression on the mind but on the very heart. Having watched many very good BBC adaptations, Pride and Prejudice, Bleak House, Cranford, Sense and Sensibility, Jane Eyre, Emma etc etc etc. I put this at number one, it just leaves such a deep impression.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't stop thinking about it, 31 Aug 2007
By 
Z. Atay - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: North & South (Complete BBC Series) [DVD] (DVD)
I had read "North and South" years ago and found it OK but not as good as my all-time-favorite "Pride and Prejudice". I just loved the BBC adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice" with Colin Firth, watching it over and over again, reading the novel again and thinking about it in my mind for days. I'd never thought another film would make me feel the same way, but I was wrong.

I had no such expectations from the adaptation of "North and South". I got it sort of on impulse because I was in the mood for a BBC period drama, but after I received the DVD, it sat there for 10 days before I sort of reluctantly put it on. But then I was hooked, I sat up all night watching it.

I have to admit that Daniela Denby-Ashe was a disappointment at first and got on my nerves during my first viewing, but she grew on me just as J.Parker wrote in his review. Richard Armitage... What can I say? You have to see him in this role. The way he looks, talks, broods.. He's so good. The relationship between mother and son was memorable, though not in the book in this way.

About the last scene at the train station: While watching it, I was fully aware that this couldn't have happened in those days, but I liked it anyway, especially when Margaret gets up to go suddenly when the London train is called and Mr. Thornton turns his back hurt and disappointed. This film's a roller-coaster of emotions.

So, now I've seen the film three times, read the book again, and can't stop thinking about it.
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118 of 122 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My firm favourite...A MUST SEE!!!, 10 Nov 2006
By 
Ed (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: North & South (Complete BBC Series) [DVD] (DVD)
I cannot praise this adaptation of Gaskell's finest work enough. I am truly thankful because I would not have been introduced to this magnificent tale if not for my English literature syllabus! Whether you read the book or watch this fantastic production, this is one tale you cannot afford to miss. It is one of social divide and of true and great characters that transcend class. It is a social commentary of today's time as much as it was of the industrial age. Having read the book, with rapid pace, I ordered this in quick succession. I was certainly not disappointed. Though I had only intended to watch one episode, I (and my mother included!) were hooked and could not be satisfied until we had seen the conclusion of this beautifully worked drama. With captivating performances from all involved, believable character interactions, a moving story, stunning locations, and hauntingly beautiful music, this is THE drama to watch. I cannot believe I missed it when it first aired on the BBC. Truly I can safely say that it is better than the acclaimed Pride and Prejudice and is now officially my favourite book and drama of all time. If this immersing tale is enough to encapsulate a teenager, it will do the same to anyone! I cannot emphasise my recommendation further. Buy it, watch it and love it!
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable!!!!!, 17 April 2007
By 
This review is from: North & South (Complete BBC Series) [DVD] (DVD)
I really have to be thankful to Amazon in particular and to all of you, reviewers in general, because I would have missed this unforgettable BBC series but for you. I hadn't known of this series at all because it wasn't showed in Spanish television. (Shame on us). So, the first time I heard of it was in these pages... Thank you!

I am not going to repeat any of the very well merited praises all of you have written about this series, I couldn't agree more with all of you. The series is perfect in my opinion. Even after reading the book you cannot find fault with it. The atmosphere, the characters (all of them), the rhythm. All beautifully done.

Maybe trying hard to find something to complain about, I could think that it was unnecessary to change the way in which Margaret and John meet for the first time. In the book it was not necessary to make John so disagreeable to make Margaret dislike him. This book speaks among other things, about prejudices, hers and his. In this period for a woman like Margaret risen up as the daughter of a gentleman, Thornton was very much behind her, it was not a question of money, but of social status and education.

A manufacturer was a little better than a tradesman, somebody who buys and sells things to get some profit couldn't be a gentleman at all. Maybe in the series they thought that we would dislike Margaret if they didn't give us a more "modern" reason for her dislike to Thornton. I don't think it has to be like that at all. The stronger are your prejudices, the higher you have to rise to overcome them, the more you have to change and the better you have to love. In the book you find this perfectly logic.

But anyway, the above mild critic is only my personal opinion and always comparing the film with the book, which is almost always unfair to any film. The language of films and books are so different that I only resent the changes when they don't respect the spirit of the book and this is not the case at all. For example, the climax in the film, the famous scene of the railway station which is completely different in the book, I find it perfect, as perfect as I found it in the book. Each of them perfect in their own way.

The performances of all actors I find remarkable, of course with special mention to the two main characters beautifully portrayed. It is impossible not to fall in love with Armitage's Mr Thornton with his outstanding performance. He really creates a real alive character impossible to forget.

The only thing I regret is that de DVD I bought here it has not subtitles in Spanish and so, I couldn't share my enthusiasm with any of my friends who can't speak English, which has been for me a real shame, so eager I was to comment this series. So, I had to share it with you. Thank you!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Period Drama Ever!, 22 Jun 2007
By 
This review is from: North & South (Complete BBC Series) [DVD] (DVD)
There is nothing more I can add to the comments of praise that have already been written about this wonderful adaptation of North & South.

This is beautifully cast and acted, with wonderful chemistry between Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage, with excellent supporting roles from Sinead Cusack who portrays the strong-willed Mother Thornton sympathetically, and Tim Piggot-Smith as the gentle Mr Hale. A special mention should also go out to Brendan Coyle who plays the mill worker Higgins and Jo Joyner who plays Fannie Thornton with great comic skill and timing.

This deservedly bought Richard Armitage the attention he deserves, his portrayal of the strong, brooding but deep down sensitive mill owner, is a treat to watch.

Buy it!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truely a thing of beauty, 11 Oct 2007
By 
L. Doughton (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: North & South (Complete BBC Series) [DVD] (DVD)
I'm not sure I can find words enough to express just how much I love this adaptation. I'm going to admit when I first saw it I'd already attempted to read the novel as part of my degree course, and had drifted away from it unenamoured after a few chapters. A year later I discovered this series and since then both it and the book have rocketed to the top of my favourites list, and long may they stay there. Its not just the lure of the series' extremely attractive leading actor Richard Armitage which leads me to this conclusion, although I'll admit it certainly helps, but rather the quality of the production as a whole. Visually it is stunning, the stark grimness of the Milton scenes contrasts strikingly with the over saturated beauty of Margarets vision of the south, and creates the perfect setting for the playing out of the tempestuous relationships between Margaret, Milton and in particular John Thornton. And although I've said its not just Richard Armitage's presence which leads me to love this adaption, let me take a minute to cheerlead him here and comment that his performance in this role is captivating, subtle, brooding, sexy and ultimately increadibly impressive. Also to be singled out for praise are Brendan Coyle as Higgins, and Sinead Cusack as Mrs Thornton. There are moments when the series slips a little from the book, the famous train station scene being one of them, but although historically inaccurate the scene is a satisfying end to the drama, fitting the sensibilities of its modern audience, and in all honesty, its quite breathtaking! But for me, what really stands out for this adaptation is the balance which is has achieved in putting the focus not just on the romance that runs through the plot, but the personal and social struggle which underlies it all. The characters are well rounded, well written and beautifully acted, and the whole series has pace and movement. The visuals are amazing, particularly some of the scenes in the mill interior, and the music is also beautiful (and here I join in with the legions of fans bemoaning the lack of available soundtrack to this series). This is not a Jane Austen, yes there is romance, but its also dark gritty, gruesome and very very sad in places, but its also very satisfying, and personally I've learnt quite a lot about the development of the unions and the workers movement from it too. So what more could you ask for, gripping, romantic, dark, sexy and educational? Watch it, I say!
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite BBC miniseries, 17 Jun 2006
By 
DJ (Boston, MA, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: North & South (Complete BBC Series) [DVD] (DVD)
I ordered the DVD sight unseen, based on online reviews (something I've never done, by the way), and I cannot find the words to do justice to it. Wow.

I read the book a couple of months beforehand and liked it a lot, esp. b/c of the social issues and how the internal lives of the characters (esp. Margaret & Thornton) are developed by Gaskell. Yet somehow, while watching the miniseries tonight I felt that it was, in some ways, an improvement over the book (sacrilegious though this might sound to fans of the book). This could be because it shows in a few scenes, with great economy, what Gaskell takes pages to tell, about the stresses and strains of the Industrial Revolution, class conflict and poverty, and also about the characters' feelings and motivations. It could also be because several of the characters are strengthened in Sandy Welch's script (e.g., Higgins and Bessy being the most notable examples). The early shots of the cotton mill were striking and Welch's line "I've seen hell and it's snow white" were highlights for me.

Although I somewhat disagreed with some choices made - such as the circumstances under which the two leads first meet - I still felt that these changes fit in with the overall tone and flow of the adaptation, allowing me to understand or overlook them.

The music was deeply moving and appropriate, imo, and significantly added to the emotional impact of the story. The camera work was very much to my liking; not static unlike many period dramas. As for the acting, I found both Daniela Denby-Ashe AND Richard Armitage convincing; though some think that RA does steal the show, DDA has a very difficult job playing a resilient, reserved character who internalises so many of her struggles. It's worth mentioning that even in the book, Margaret's (DDA's) emotions always have to be kept under wraps, (though I can still sense the tension simmering under the surface); Thornton's angst is more visible somehow, especially in the book, so RA has more material to work with than, say Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice, and he does a wonderful job with it.

Let me quickly add that any comparisons between John Thornton and Darcy are odious and unfair to both, b/c in the respective books, John's perspective was far better developed than Darcy's. I adore both, though Darcy was my first literary love and so just about sneaks ahead. Thornton is among my top 2-3 favorite literary heroes, though.

And despite my liking for the humorous ending from the book (abrupt though it is), its counterpart in the miniseries, which was, shall we say, more fully developed, was simply sublime.

Someone once said that great film can be made from a very good book, but very rarely (if ever) is great film/TV the product of a great book. Perhaps this is why I will never be completely satisfied with an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice; not to denigrate any of the Pride and Prejudice adaptations, I will always ultimately return to the source for that satisfaction. As far as the book and miniseries versions of North and South are concerned, much as I liked the book, I just might feel differently :-)
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North & South (Complete BBC Series) [DVD]
North & South (Complete BBC Series) [DVD] by Brian Percival (DVD - 2005)
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