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North and South: The Complete Collection
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This Emmy Award-winning powerful adaptation of John Jakes' best-seller tells the story of the turbulent events and emotions that ignited the Civil War. In the tradition of Gone With The Wind, this glorious epic focuses on the lives of two families who are geographically and ideologically placed on opposite sides of the war - The North and The South. The saga follows the families through their changing fortunes at home and the harsh realities of the battlefields until the South surrenders and the families are reunited in friendship. In the final installment, the story of the two families continues through Post-Civil War Reconstruction into pioneer Indian territories.
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etc. I assumed these important episodes were cut. I then went to the computer to write a review and complain. It was there that I discovered a
revue written by some nice person explaining that each disc had 2 parts!!! She said after watching Part 1, you need to go back to the menu and go
into episodes and pick Part 2. I never would have thought to do that. It worked and there were all the missing episodes!!! I am SOOO grateful to that person and I agree that it would have been nice if that bit of instruction was included with the DVDs. I think that after viewing Park 1, if you simply allow the DVD to continue on through the credits, the Part 2 starts up.
Of course, I love the miniseries as much as I did years ago when it first aired on TV and the several times I watched it on my VCR tapes after that.
I belong to a Civil War Study Group and find that I know a few facts featured in the movie from that. Well done.
The miniseries is reasonably faithful to the novels, and where it departs, the changes are generally benign. The story is also quite faithful to history, and both North and South are portrayed with respect, although the story harshly indicts the institution of slavery, and reminds Americans of the incredible fact that this evil was a basic fact of our country for a very long time.
Book one of North and South is superb. It spans the period from about 1840 through the outbreak of the Civil War. The portrayal of the Mexican War is quite good, and the story of George and Orry graduating West Point and fighting together in the Mexican War makes for a fine story. The film does very well at recreating the attitudes of Northerners and Southerners during this period--conflicting attitudes which ultimately could not be reconciled by the normal political institutions of the American republic and which instead culminated in the Civil War. The battle scenes are very good and surpass what we normally expect of a miniseries.
Book Two ("Love and War") takes place immediately following the firing upon Ft. Sumter. It is again very well done. This is one of the very best straight Civil War films. It is not without flaws. Just as in the novel, the Elkanah Bent sub-plot adds very little to this story. This is true despite the fact that the Bent sub-plot in the Book Two film bears essentially no resembence to the novel. But overall, this is a fine story. Lloyd Bridges in particular does a fine job in his portrayal of Jefferson Davis. Hal Holbrook is a wonderful Abraham Lincoln. Here again the battle scenes are very good. My only quibble is that the soldiers' uniforms are too natty and pristine. Real Civil War soldiers were never very well turned out. The combat and conditions were too tough for that, and the supply trains too inefficient.
Book Three ("Heaven and Hell") takes place after the end of the Civil War, and is so bad as to be unwatchable. Not only is Book Three unwatchable, but it totally departs from the story as set forth in the novel. (as far as I could tell-I mean it when I say that Three is unwatchable). Book Three of Jakes' novels was far and away the weakest of the three, but it was somewhat readable. Not in the miniseries, however.
North and South is imperfect, but it is still so good as to rate five stars. It really is a great story of the Civil War era. James Read and Patrick Swayze turn in great performances as George and Orry. Read was sufficiently good in this part that I am surprised that this role did not lead to greater things for him.
The flaws. First of all, as in all John Jakes stories, the characters, particularly the villains, are one-dimensional at best. Virgilia Hazard, Elkanah Bent, Ashton Main--these characters are complete villains and in real life no one in their right mind would want to live on the same continent with such scoundrels. I have always thought that this caricature-like characterization is the weakest aspect of John Jakes' writing, and these flaws, unfortunately, are faithfully recreated in this miniseries.
Overall this is a tremendous value that many fans of North and South have waited for for a long time. It is terrific that this is now available on Amazon Instant Video. RJB.
Top international reviews
I can't believe it;s nearly 30 years since they made book one - it hasn't aged a day.
It's the best series i've ever seen, my favourite is book one because JOHN STOCKWELL is in it.
In my mind he is Billy Hazard and always will be.
I like the scenes with John Stockwell and Genie Francis in it - (Billy and Brett).
If anybody know's why he was replaced in book two can they please tell me, I've always wanted to know.
I am a massive John Stockwell fan - i have been a fan of his since i first saw him as Billy Hazard on north and south nearly 30 years ago.
A must have for anybody like myself who is interested in the american civil war.
Just found out they are remaking North and South.
great battle re-enactments during the civil war, and some excellent acting by most of the characters.