North and South Review (DVD)
Based on the best-selling novels by John Jakes, North And South premiered as a highly celebrated and critically acclaimed television series in 1985. In the spirit of Gone with the Wind, the novels cover 19th century America before , during and after Civil War. As with the Margaret Mitchell classic, Jakes creates a larger-than-life cast of characters to tell his story of struggle between a Union of States divided on the issues of human servitude and the rights of the state, allegiance to the nation and loyalty to the state in which he was born, along with countless interpersonal conflicts lost in the sands of time … To tell his story, Jakes uses two families, the Hazard family from Pennsylvania and the Main family from South Carolina.
With a star-studded cast, North And South has over 1000 minutes of riveting drama. Multiple discs cover the Civil War era with stunning cinematography, realistic settings, and the growing cauldron of conflict between North and South. You don’t want to miss out on this truly amazing series.
The North And South DVD covers all three books in the popular series, each of which is a multi-disc set …
Below is a rough summary of each book.
(Note that the recaps below contain some plot spoilers)
RESERVE ONE – North and South (561 minutes)
Book One of the North and South DVD covers the period before the Civil War (1844-1860). Eighteen-year-old Orry Main (Patrick Swayze) prepares to leave his South Carolina plantation en route to West Point when he encounters an overturned carriage leaving town. Helping the passengers, Orry meets the lovely Madeline Fabray (Lesley-Anne Down), whom he offers a ride, giving her safe passage to the LaMotte plantation, where his father and friend Justin LaMotte (David Carradine) await. Madeline and Orry agree to write to each other while he’s at West Point.
When Orry travels to New York, he meets a group of unsavory characters who try to rob him, but George Hazard (James Read) comes to his aid and the two manage to defend themselves against criminals. George is also on his way to West Point, and the two men strike up a friendship that continues throughout their studies. While at West Point, they collude with others to rid the campus of the menacing senior Elkanah Bent (Philip Casnoff). The vengeful cadet swears revenge, and gets it when George and Orry are put under his command in a battle during the Mexican War. Bent sends the two men and their comrades to certain death, only to have their plan thwarted by a Mexican withdrawal.
While fighting in Mexico, George meets his future wife Constance Flynn (Wendy Kilbourne). Meanwhile, Orry and Madeline experience a personal hell when Madeline’s father hides Orry’s letters from West Point. Thinking that Orry has forgotten about her, Madeline agrees to marry Justin LaMotte, who treats her horribly. With Orry and Madeline continuing their love story in secret, George and Orry continue their friendship. The entire Main family, including Orry’s sisters Ashton (Terri Garber) and Brett (Genie Francis), as well as first cousin Charles (Lewis Smith), travel to Pennsylvania as guests of the Hazard family. While in the North, the Mains confront George’s abolitionist sister Virgilia (Kirstie Alley) and the differences between North and South dominate the discussion, but George and Orry’s friendship continues unabated as they decide not to argue. such matters.
When the Mains return the favor and invite the Hazards to South Carolina, Virgilia creates a scandal by helping a neighbor’s slave, Grady, escape. Later, she marries Grady and the two join John Brown and his freedom fighters. When Grady dies, Virgilia enlists the help of Congressman Sam Greene.
Meanwhile, Orry and George start a business partnership by opening a cotton mill in South Carolina. As the secessionist movement gains ground, the two continue to comfort each other with the strength of their brotherly bond …
BOOK TWO – Love and War (570 minutes)
Book Two of the North and South DVD covers the beginnings of the Civil War and the end of the war (1860-1865). Despite the growing conversation about secession from the South, George and Orry continue to run their cotton mill and remain friends. George and Constance even operate an illegal stop along the Underground Railroad. But when Abraham Lincoln is elected president, the southern states separate and war finally breaks out between the two nations. Orry’s sister, Brett, has a crush on George’s brother, Billy Hazard (John Stockwell), who is also a West Point graduate stationed at Fort Sumter. The war alienates Billy from his new wife Brett, while Ashton sees the war as an opportunity for profit. Using her husband James Huntoon (Jim Metzler) to climb the ranks of the political circuit, Ashton decides that James is not the best man to serve her interests. She begins a relationship with Elkanah Bent, who is using the war for personal gain by smuggling luxury goods beyond the Union naval blockade.
Meanwhile, the war ravages both the North and the South. George works as Lincoln’s assistant, while Orry works in a similar capacity for Jefferson Davis. During the course of the war, Charles meets a Virginia woman and falls in love with her. At the end of the war, she gives birth to her son, but dies shortly after. Also, Justin’s death finally gives Orry and Madeline a chance to get married. As the war progresses, it takes its toll on both families. But despite the obstacles, they hold out until the end. At the end of the war, George and Orry reunite and the two men promise to work together to rebuild a broken nation.
RESERVE THREE – Heaven & Hell (261 minutes)
The North and South Book Three DVD originally aired in 1994, several years after the first two books were released. With Patrick Swayze now an established star, Orry Main’s character is written out of the television script for the final book. Several other cast members reappear, but the writing deviates substantially from John Jakes’ original novel, creating a plot that makes no sense. Looking at how Elkanah Bent died in the previous book, it’s kind of ridiculous that he reappears in book three. Also, the dialogue is often stiff and awkward, the plot uninteresting, and the entire book is not worth seeing. Stay tuned to the first two books on DVD.
Although Book Three did not arouse any interest, the North and South DVD is worth more than the price of Books One and Two. This is a thoroughly entertaining miniseries reminiscent of a primetime soap opera, one with a historical perspective. With a cast of characters likely to appeal to viewers, compelling subplots, and fascinating costumes and sets, North And South is an epic of unmatched quality. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed with the North And South DVD, despite the shortcomings of Book Three …