Now that I have a little down time from promoting the new series, I've been looking for films and series to add my Victorian video collection. I found the North & South miniseries here primarily because I'm a huge fan of actor Richard Armitage and have been ever since he starred in MI-5 (aka Spooks) as troubled heartbreaker Lucas North (yes, another North! That compass heading might end up being his trademark.)
At the moment I'm only about halfway through North & South, which is based on Victorian novelist Elizabeth Gaskell's novel of the same title. The characters are strong, the plot is decisive and the settings and costumes are rather marvelous, but what I most appreciate is the focus on telling the story without the usual explicit or sensational elements that so often ruin television and film productions of fictional works. The actors carrying every scene based on the strength of their performances, and I really love that. There is a certain amount of violence, but it's very mild in comparison to what we see on the small and big screen these days, and I find it's appropriate to the story. P.S., for those of you who are Downton Abbey fans, actor Brendan Coyle (aka Mr. Bates) has a very interesting role in this production.
Writers, I think what we watch can help us shift gears. When you write in a certain time period, it helps to immerse yourself in that era however you can. While I'd rather read books or listen to music, watching films or television series set in the period can certainly help. Listening to authentic voices from the era of your fiction can help retune your inner ear for dialogue purposes, for example, and seeing the many different ways actors protray their roles can help you refine your character depictions on the page.
Aside from the value watching period shows and movies affords the work, it's just fun. I get so tired of contemporary crime dramas and psychological thrillers, and taking a bit of a time travel trip via a historial series or movie provides a bit of an escape. I may never be able to actually go back to the Victorian era, but I can visit it whenever I like -- thanks to North & South and many other wonderful productions like it.
Do you like to watch Victorian-era shows or films? What are some of your favorites? Let us know in comments.