Wednesday, April 27, 2005

North and South

Toward the end of last year BBC 1 ran a period drama called 'North & South' based on the book by Mrs Gaskell. They didn't advertise it very much, but those of us who watched it were entranced for four weeks. It's set in the mid 19th century, and the heroine is forced to move from the softie south up to the hard north, complete with its growing industrialisation. Basically, it really is 'trouble at mill'!

I've just managed to get hold of the DVD and watched some of my favourite scenes again. Yes, this is a romance, but in fact it's the mill scenes that catch my eye. In particular, when the heroine first visits the mill, it's an alien world (for her, as well as the viewer). The machines, the workers, the noise, and the cotton flying in the air like snow, or white cherry blossom. And then at the beginning of the 2nd episode, as the titles are running, it's the mill again, the noise, the machinery, the adults following the loom movement, the children defluffing the machines and scuttling out backwards before the loom wheels snap towards them. In amongst the workers, as the cotton flies, the hero's hard-bitten mother patrols, and the accompanying music is sublime. I actually cried because it showed me how awful the conditions were. One of the characters dies because the cotton dust has clogged her lungs. Gaskell was writing in the 1850s, so this isn't a historical novel per se. It's extremely powerful.

The romance too, is good, with the actor (Richard Armitage) playing the hero having been awarded a 'Darcy' rating of 9 out of 10 in a recent poll! Altogether, a wonderful production from Auntie Beeb.


At 10:32 pm BST, Blogger Olga said...

Wow, the drama sounds great and so powerful!

At 12:49 pm BST, Blogger Kate Allan said...

N&S was wonderful... fully agree with relation to Mr Armitage.


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