I decided to divert myself from the usual monotony of cleaning my office by watching a movie on my computer. Yay, Netflix! Since I love England and the whole Victorian era, I chose the BBC miniseries of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. It was excellent. I was transported to another time and place. Unfortunately, I was also distracted from working and my office is still messy.
The thing I really liked about this movie? The palpable, sometimes-uncomfortable tension between the two main characters, Margaret Hale and John Thornton. Margaret is a genteel, principled Southerner, while John is a plain-spoken, pragmatic man of the North. These two don't just clash. They are polar opposites who are drawn to each other in spite of themselves. And their courtship is tempestuous because neither backs down from a fight. Each time they begin to make headway in their relationship—bamm!—another impediment to their happiness. All of the conflict feels very real, not author-manipulated, because the characters are passionate about their ideals. Having such different views of life, Margaret and John would naturally offend each other.
I love that the first time we see John Thornton he's beating the tar out of a careless cotton mill worker. Margaret is appalled, her sympathies in line with those of the human punching bag. Yet, we find out later that John was justifiably making an example of the errant employee.
If you've watched this movie, you know the final scenes make up for any of the nerve-wracking tumult. Seeing John's face soften with affection as he kisses Margaret for the first time . . . Well, it's something to behold.
Let's put it this way, a happy Richard Armitage makes a happy viewer.