Wednesday, November 21, 2007

North & South

Jenni met a fellow Janeite (I can hear Dwain's cries of horror) who loaned her a BBC production of an Elizabeth Gaskell novel, North & South. It takes place during the Victorian age and tells the story of a minister and his family who move north to a mill town because he objected to some religious detail the bishop wanted to force him to acknowledge. They meet a mill owner, Mr. Thornton, who is very business-oriented but still interested in being educated.
There are plenty of clashes between Mr. Thornton and the minister's daughter, Margaret. Of course they fall in love. It's not just a love story, though. There is a lot of commentary on the social and economic issues of the time. The story focuses on the hardship of the mill-workers and the contrasting concerns of the mill-owners. It was very interesting.
The movie was beautifully shot. The scenes within the cotton mill were gorgeous while disturbing. Tufts of cotton filled the air while the looms worked, like snow, yet it was quite clear how damaging it was to the workers, who breathed the stuff in daily and suffered for it. One of the millworkers says, "When I think of hell, it is white."

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