Melanie's Musings
February 24, 2012

From a North and South Fangirl

Angie from Angieville is here to share what she loves about North and South. If you haven’t read her North and South or Things Angie Can’t Get Out of Her Head, you must!

When Melanie first invited me to write a guest post on North & South, my initial reaction was a gasp at how lax I’ve become. It has been fully more than a year since my last Richard Armitage North & South-related post. And I call myself a fan . . . It then occurred to me that if I don’t post about it soon, They might ask me to hand in my fangirl card. Which, of course, I would refuse to do. And then an embarrassing and protracted chase would ensue, and really, who has time for that? So Melanie actually saved my bacon by extending the invitation to take part in this most excellent of shindigs. And here I happily am. Deciding what specifically to post on was a little more difficult. Other than, well, these:

I’m sorry, where were we?

Oh, right! But when it came down to it, what makes North & South so special–downright breathtaking–for me is the study in contrast that makes up its core. Light, dark, and every shade of grey in between are contained in this beautiful adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel. Thornton’s closed-off sternness versus Margaret’s wide-open curiosity. The icy-cold manufacturing model of Milton versus the sun-drenched wistful warmth of Helstone. The privileged, pristine conditions in the fancy parlors of the masters versus the miserable, meager conditions of the hovels of the workers. Even Margaret’s haunting observation upon making Milton’s (and Thornton’s)¬†acquaintance:

Everywhere there is conflict and unkindness. I think God has forsaken this place. I believe I have seen hell, and it’s white. It’s snow-white.

To every character, every situation, every moment there are two sides. And it is the viewer’s pleasure to experience all of these facets (and to learn to love each one of them at least a little) over the course of this nearly four-hour saga. The truth is the darkness gets to be oppressive in parts. Like winter at Mistlethwaite Manor for Mary Lennox, the grim and gritty reality of the majority of this miniseries wears you down, making you long for the faint hint of a smile, a glimmer of hope, something. And just when you’re sure it will never come right–BAM! The most beautiful ending ever unfurls, quietly, leisurely, and to utterly devastating effect. It’s sheer brilliance. All of that longing. All of that pain. All of the darkness, loss, pent-up emotion, and wasted time bring you to this moment. And the merest beseeching look in the eyes, a hand reaching out, a held breath, or a certain reflection in the glass is enough to send you over the edge. It’s unmatched. I’m so glad discerning people pointed me in the right direction.¬†I’m not sure how many times exactly I’ve watched it so far, but I can tell you now–it’s nowhere near as many as I’m going to over the rest of my life.

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Posted by Melanie at 8:24 am - Comments (22)
Categories: themed week

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Comments

  • February 24th 2012

    I like the way you describe the ending of N&S the series, because you’re right: IT IS JUST PERFECT. Not a truly Victorian scene – lack of propriety but … who minds?- but so tremendously thrilling. Brilliant. It is the scene which conquered all of us and brought us to love Mr Armitage, for Mr Thornton’s sake. Before discovering lovely Mr A. has great qualities of his own, of course ;-)

    [Reply]

    Angie Reply:

    Maria, I think you’re right. That ending ensures we’ll always be coming back. To think I might never have discovered Richard Armitage without this wonderful series.

    [Reply]

  • February 24th 2012

    Oh this just made me want to go watch it again and again and again… Beautifully put, Angie.

    [Reply]

    Angie Reply:

    Melissa, lol! That’s pretty much how I feel anytime I see a picture from it or hear someone talk about it.

    [Reply]

  • February 24th 2012
    Sandy said:

    Sigh. Angie always explains things so beautifully. This post was fantastic :)

    [Reply]

    Angie Reply:

    Sandy, awwww. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I certainly enjoyed mulling it all over again. :)

    [Reply]

  • February 24th 2012
    janicu said:

    If I go too long without watching NORTH & SOUTH I have to plop it back in the DVD player… Just saw it a few weeks ago. Will probably watch it again in a couple of weeks. My husband has taken to patting my head indulgently when he sees this on.

    [Reply]

    Angie Reply:

    Janice, hehe. My husband does the same thing.

    [Reply]

  • February 25th 2012

    Oh, you’re so right! I do love the way both the miniseries & the novel show things from both perspectives. It *does* get oppressive, we do long for things to be set right, and that must be a large part of why the ending is so…perfect.
    Even just the way you describe it makes me want to go and watch it again, and since discovering it about, oh, four weeks ago, I’ve watched it more times than I can count. More than I would ever be able to admit, and yes, I will continue to watch it many more times.
    Well said. :)

    [Reply]

    Angie Reply:

    J.M., it’s infectious, isn’t it? I can only glimpse a few screenshots or catch part of a discussion before I’m popping in my copy.

    [Reply]

  • February 25th 2012
    Chachic said:

    Such a wonderful post, Angie! I agree with everything that you said. Some of the scenes and situations in the series were pretty bleak but it’s balanced out by the swoon-worthy moments.

    [Reply]

    Angie Reply:

    Chach, light and darkness. It’s such a good blend.

    [Reply]

  • February 25th 2012
    elena said:

    Oh gosh, this post reminded me I have yet to watch North and South! This just adds to the pile of good things I’ve heard about it, love what you said about contrasting! x

    [Reply]

    Angie Reply:

    Elena, ooh. You have a handful of good hours ahead of you!

    [Reply]

  • February 26th 2012

    Someone JUST told me on twitter that the ending is perfect, just like you said! I’m going to watch this ASAP!

    [Reply]

    Angie Reply:

    Jacinda, there’s no other word for it. Enjoy!

    [Reply]

  • February 27th 2012
    Suey said:

    I can’t wait for a chance to actually sit and watch this again!

    [Reply]

    Angie Reply:

    Suey, I know. You have to block it out or it doesn’t happen when you’re a busy gal like yourself. :)

    [Reply]

  • February 28th 2012
    Jessica said:

    As usual, Angie, you’ve managed to sum up a pivotal (even monumental) concept in a sentence: “To every character, every situation, every moment there are two sides.” This is perhaps my favorite theme of NORTH & SOUTH but also of life.

    [Reply]

    Angie Reply:

    Jess, mine as well. It’s the resonance behind the swoon, if you will. ;)

    [Reply]

  • March 1st 2012

    I just found out about the two week long celebration for North and South from your blog Angie. I am a bit late, but now I have all this amazing posts to go though :D
    I have met a handful of people who shares the love for this series and books. I am so happy to know I am not the only Richard Armitage.. I mean North & South fan out there ;)

    [Reply]

    Angie Reply:

    Prangon, lol! Hear, hear. How wonderful it is to find you’re not alone. Enjoy all the posts. Melanie’s gathered a great group of posts and fans.

    [Reply]