Sunday, February 18, 2007

What we've been watching...

What we've been watching...

Usually when we purchase a new movie for our extensive video/DVD collection here at home, we find the price often outweighs the value of the purchase. However, recently we acquired a mini series, one that has literally sucked away all our extra time, as hubby couldn’t wait to begin another two-hour episode, one of many included in the five-disc set. Obviously then, this series was well worth the monetary value considering the ongoing saga it provided for us in the way of entertainment. smile

The film I'm going to write about here is the award winning adaptation of John Jake’s; “North and South”, a sweeping and incredible star studded glorious epic in the tradition of “Gone with the Wind”. The story begins with Book I called “North and South", encompasses these two close-knit families, one a family of northern industrialists; the Hazard family of Pennsylvania, the other being the Main family, owners of a southern plantation. They both strive to hold their friendship together while their nation is being torn apart.

Book II; “Love and War” opens in 1861 and continues the families’ story against the dramatic backdrop of the war. The carefully filmed battle scenes are sure to please Civil War buffs.

Book III; “Heaven and Hell” opens later with the introduction of the westward expansion and how it affected native Indians, as well as the freedom the slaves were afforded and the KKK movement. The hatred, prejudice, and greed that tear at the fabric of a nation also threaten to destroy the threads that have woven these two families together after the war.

In all, 140 actors, numerous extras, 100 production workers, 8,700 pieces of wardrobe and 15,000 decorations and hand props were used in the five month, five state location shoot that brings history, and gripping drama thrillingly alive!

During the day I could find my hubby in the library, reading and researching all he could find there on the US Civil war, slavery, famous figureheads, and all the other areas brought to light in this moving epic mini series. The children were watching their father’s sudden great interest in history, often joining him in a history sitting and oral discussion together. By evening, he was ready to begin the next session to absorb, watch and learn for his next research day in the library (wink), thus is one of the main reason this blog has suffered its usual updates. Overall however, we are great history buffs, often found searching and seeking out places or things of interest nearby, finding a great book to add to the already well stocked library, perhaps another film to watch from a different viewpoint, or simply gathering a continual timeline of characters, those who lived and breathed during those days, surviving the history unfolding we now must look to other sources to gather information from. This past week, civil war uniforms came to the forefront, the biographies of General Robert Lee and Ulysses Grant are on the coffee table.

One other area I find extremely interesting is my own genealogy presents and encompasses my entire mother’s side of the family being born and raised in the south. She herself was born in Virginia, and to this day, calling her a Yankee would be a terrible insult. One just doesn’t throw names out such as that in this day and age.

I can remember being just a young gal, spending an entire month in my grandmother’s home, catching fireflies, saying “yes maam” and “no sir”, melting from the heat and humidity, and attending a very large family reunion in North Carolina. Just knowing all those people present were related to one another or me – was simply amazing for my young mind to comprehend at that time. Many obviously had other family, or were progeny from families living during the times of the American Civil War, perhaps owning a slave or two in their day even, who knows? Who knows, living in the east and being so much closer geographically might offer an opportunity to travel south some day to gather information and learn history first hand by visiting my relatives there.

At the end of the disc set, we watched the special previews with the actors/actresses twenty years later speaking of the filming and personal researching they themselves had to accomplish to offer accurate portrayals of the characters. Patrick Swayze did a great job of playing Orry Mains, a southern gentleman in real life. In the movie they excluded the book version of losing half an arm in the war with Mexico, rather losing part of a leg instead, so if you’re a reader and happen upon the three books themselves, this may seem off in the movie when watching later on. James Read plays the role of George Hazard, also excellent, offering the portrayal in its entirety, that of the American Civil War from the North’s perspective when all is said and done. Just as the movie “Gone with the wind” offers viewers the perspective of the South’s perspective, both can go hand in hand for a well-rounded viewpoint, with characters as colorful and ingenious as the next.

We very much enjoyed the star studded cast, everyone from James Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor, Jean Simmons, Lesley Anne Downe, Robert Guillame, Gene Kelly, Robert Mitchum, Johnny Cash, Terri Garber, Kirstie Alley, David Carradine, Jeanie Francis along with many, many others. In addition, as the entire saga came to its completion, hubby declared it was time to begin it all over again…

NOT yet though, as I have two more films to open up for viewing.

One is titled; "Love's Abiding Joy" by Janette Oke, the fourth installment of Janette Oke's series so far available for sale in stores. We love this series by Micheal Landon Jr., following the family through the years as well in a pioneer time period.

The other is titled, "Therese", a Leonardo Defilippis film, someone we've met over the years at conventions. This is the true story, a beautiful two hour retreat, hardly a dry eye in the movie theater when it was showing. An extraordinary girl with an extraordinary soul!

Until next time...when we finally capture the next season of "The Waltons" then...