I forgot to mark the anniversary of the weekend that I watched BBC North & South for the first time. It was the weekend of January 22, 2012. I watched this miniseries on Saturday and was so taken with the storyline and a handsome British actor named Richard Armitage that I watched it again the next day. January 22, 2012 was the weekend that my Armitagemania began. I remember replaying the ending over and over again. The musical score for North & South I found to be beautifully haunting and I could not get it out of my head for a long time. I went to look for it on Amazon and was disappointed to learn that the musical score has never been made available for purchase. I have since been able to download it for free on a website that I found it on last spring. That particular website is acting a little funky today so I am glad that I downloaded it when I did.
If you are interested in downloading the soundtrack of BBC North & South, I just found another website where you can get it. Just click on the picture above to be taken to that website. I have no idea how long it will be available there, so if you want it I would advise you to download it right away. The music, by Martin Phipps, is so beautiful and a perfect fit for this miniseries. I played the music over and over for months afterwards. I am so completely moved by it.
Richard Armitage as John Thornton
John Thornton will always remain my absolute favorite character that Richard Armitage will ever play. I enjoy all of Richard's performances, but nothing will ever top John Thornton for me. For a long time my Armitagemania was wrapped around the character of John Thornton and the miniseries. I saw Richard as John Thornton even though I know he was only playing a part in a movie. I have since come to appreciate Richard's acting abilities in other roles such as John Standring in Sparkhouse, Harry Kennedy in The Vicar of Dibley, Lucas North in Spooks/MI-5, Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood, Claude Monet in The Impressionists, Rick Deeming in George Gently, John Mulligan in Moving On, Heinz Kruger in Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain Ian Macalwain in Ultimate Force, and most recently as Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit.
I also came to love and appreciate very much the North & South fan art that I saw on fan blogs. I cannot remember where I found these or else I would happily give proper credit. I probably got them from Richard Armitage Net.
I find John Thornton's serious and conservative side very attractive. I would take John Thornton over Ricky Deeming and Guy of Gisborne any day.
When John Thornton smiles he is really quite charming too. Richard Armitage has "Presence", which I believe brought something extra special to John Thornton. I am not sure that I would have had the same reaction to this movie if another actor played John Thornton.
The proposal-rejection scene was difficult for me to watch because by that time I was smitten with John Thornton. I wanted Mr. Thornton to get the girl that he was so much in love with. It was a big deal for Mr. Thornton to tell Margaret that he loves her because it was the first time in his life that he ever experienced such deep feelings of a romantic nature. Prior to meeting Margaret Hale, no other woman ever stirred these types of feelings within him. It really pained me to watch Mr. Thornton walk away so deeply hurt.
Watching John tell his mother that Margaret would not have him and that no one loves him but her tore at my heartstrings. As each chapter of Elizabeth Gaskell's story played out I was becoming a huge fan and had to order the book online.
Casting Daniela Denby-Ashe as Margaret Hale was perfect. Daniela and Richard had great chemistry. I found myself wishing that these two actors got together romantically in real life.
Daniela as Margaret Hale
You can clearly see Mr. Thornton's hurt as he now thinks that Margaret doesn't want him to come and visit her family anymore either. While Mr. Thornton was being genuinely kind and thoughtful to Margaret's sick mother, he was also still visiting the Hale's to get a glimpse of Margaret. It was important to him even though Margaret rejected him. Mr. Thornton still loved her and just seeing her was a small bit of joy for him. Who could not absolutely love this man??? I was completely sucked into this movie's storyline thanks to Richard Armitage.
Who can forget John Thornton's face as he stood at the doorway willing Margaret to look back at him? This is a powerful moment and Mr. Thornton did not blink once as he stood there watching the love of his life leave Milton. I thought to myself, not only did Margaret not look back at him, but Mr. Thornton is still thinking she is in love with another man.
I was beyond THRILLED when Mr. Thornton finally learns that the man he saw Margaret hugging at the train station was her brother and not a lover. Thank you Mr. Higgins! At least now Mr. Thornton knows that Margaret did not reject him for another man.
This is another poignant scene in North & South that made my love for John Thornton grow. Mr. Thornton by this time has lost his mill and was facing having to give up his home and start all over again in business. However, John's thoughts are focused on Margaret. Now that John knows that Margaret did not love another man, he has renewed hope and travels to Hellstone to visit the place that Margaret loved so much growing up and made her who she is. To me this is a deeply loving action and by this time I am like putty in Richard Armitage's hands.
By now you know that Margaret has fallen in love with Mr. Thornton. I was wondering how the two would come together again and squealed with delight when their paths crossed at the train station.
There is no doubt that this scene at the train station is one of the most powerful scenes EVER. At the time I thought there could be no better ending; even after I first read the book. However, I have since read the book a second time and listened to the unabridged audio version multiple times, coming to the conclusion that the book's ending is even more powerful than what you see here.
The look on John Thornton's face as Margaret is looking out of the window of the train speaks volumes. I can clearly see the sense of peace and wholeness that John Thornton is feeling for the first time in his life. John may have been a self made businessman who was able to bring dignity back to his family, but there was a crucial missing piece in his life that he did not know was missing before meeting Margaret. Now John Thornton is whole and the real meaning of life is clear. Margaret changed John's life forever. I played the ending over and over as such deep emotions played out within my own self. From that point on my Armitagemania began and is still going strong.
This is the audio version of the book that I have. I highly recommend it! Juliet Stevenson does an outstanding job!
I have also read these two recent "sequels" to North & South. We can all safely assume that John and Margaret got married, but it is nice to read what happened to them after they left the train station. A Heart For Milton and Margaret of The North are two very good books. My favorite is A heart For Milton. The ending is so sweet and sentimental and had me in tears. I am now reading A Heart For Milton for the second time.