Where do I start? The cinematography is awe-inspiring. At the end of the first episode, when you see a cloud of cotton in the air that Margaret Hale describes as hell, and then through the mist you see John Thornton walking through the factory. It’s just ~ wow. Wow, wow, wow. The acting was terrific ~ there could not have been better casting for this. Then there was the contrast between the lush, green scenery of the south (Helston) vs. the dark, grey dullness of the north (Milton). You have to watch to see what I mean.
Now ~ John Thornton. That dark, smoldering gaze of his. (Yes, Richard Armitage is the perfect epitome of Derek Craven). The first time Margaret and John spy each other in the factory, I found myself holding my breath. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think of John. I mean, he started beating a man senseless almost immediately ~~ and then he yelled “get that woman out of here”!! But, our Margaret ~~ she gave as good as she got. I don’t think John knew what to think of this little chit who was standing up to him.
Margaret stands up for what she thinks is right ~~ class doesn’t seem to factor into her decision making at all. I love how she can befriend the master’s family (John) and then spend her days in the home of the workers and be perfectly at home in either setting. I absolutely loved her friendship with Bessie Higgins, and through that the entire Higgins family. I have a bit of a crush on Nicholas Higgins as well. I really enjoyed his character and the fact that he always seems drawn to take care of everybody…whether it’s through organizing a union, or taking in the 6 orphaned children he feels a responsibility for after their parents kill themselves. He was an amazing character.
Going back to John again. How glad I was to see I had misjudged him. At first, I thought he was the harsh master, overseeing his cotton mill with no thoughts as to his workers are the environment around him. How wrong I was. I loved seeing the different layers of this character. Yes, at first, he does seem to be hardened ~~ I mean, he beating a man… Really beating him ~~ over the top beating him. But we later learn why, and the emotions behind the beating. Yes, he cares for his workers. Then we see him at the Hale residence, where he has become a private pupil of Mr. Hale’s (Margaret’s father). He values education ~~ another layer to Mr. Thornton. Then, there’s the quiet, watchful way he looks over Margaret Hale (and the hesitant way Margaret watches over John). That’s enough to make the knees go weak.
John and Margaret’s friendship seemed to be one that neither had control over. Margaret didn’t even like John, but that didn’t stop them from growing closer. At their first meeting in the Hale home, Margaret refused to shake his hand ~~ but, later when they met at a social setting, she offered her hand to him and the handshake lingered quite longer than what was proper at that time. (Yes, that was a sigh you heard).
Now, when John asked for Margaret’s hand in marriage it did remind me a lot of the same scene in Pride and Prejudice when Mr. Darcy asks Elizabeth to marry him ~~ almost to the letter. John admits his love, Margaret rejects him and questions how he would have ever thought she would have him. She certainly had never intended for him to think that she felt more than an extreme dislike for him.
When circumstances cause Margaret to leave Milton and she goes to say goodbye to John Thornton and his family ~~ when he watches her carriage drive off and he keeps saying “Look back” it’s heartbreaking. He still loves her.
The end of the movie had me smiling for hours. Although the whole series was incredible, the train scene made is all worthwhile. I loved, loved, loved it. And John (er, Richard) has the most amazing smile. Whoulda thunk it? When he grabs her hand, then she holds onto his and then kisses it, then he leans in to kiss her ~ awww, right there. That’s why you should watch. To see everything come together so beautifully. It is just amazing. Beautiful. Excellent.