Last week I
raved wrote about Elizabeth’s Gaskell’s North and South, a novel I started but never finished reading back in college and now all I can say to myself is, “WHY didn’t I read this book before?” I decided to read it this year for the Back to the Classics Challenge, mainly so I could re-watch the BBC miniseries starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe.
Since I loved the book, I was excited about comparing the miniseries to the original text, and although there were some expected changes, overall I was very satisfied with this adaptation. I’ll try not to spoil the book or the miniseries while I highlight some of the biggest changes I saw in the adaptation.
Mr. Thornton is seen as much crueller in the miniseries
Unlike other Byronic heroes, I never disliked Mr. Thornton. Right from our first introduction to him in the book, I held a soft spot for him. The way we are introduced to Mr. Thornton in the miniseries is much more abrupt and it exaggerates Margaret’s view of him as a harsh and unfeeling master. The cotton factory scene is completely made up for the miniseries, and yes, it bothered me a little to see Mr. Thornton so violent, but I didn’t think it ruined the adaptation.
For the record, I love the ending from the miniseries. But the book ending made me cry happy tears that I haven’t cried since reading Jane Eyre (side note: this book reminded me so much of Jane Eyre). I would love to see an adaptation one day when they keep the original ending, but I have to say that I don’t think that ending would have suited this miniseries. The ending they created was beautiful and it fit this particular cast and direction beautifully.
Some of my favorite aspects of this adaptation were:
I can’t talk about this soundtrack enough. This particular track, “Northbound Train,” can literally bring tears to my eyes (believe me, it happened at work one day last week). I love music that makes you feel the same strength of emotions whether you’re watching the movie or not.
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Richard Armitage, in my opinion, was perfectly cast for the role of Mr. Thornton. I also loved Sinéad Cusack as Mrs. Thornton; she’s another character I held a soft-spot for despite her harsh characteristics.
I could probably talk about this novel and the miniseries forever, but instead I’ll just let you enjoy it for yourself :) It’s on Netflix if you’re in the mood for a Victorian romdram.