I don't have all the words right now but this film is a work of art.
I like movies that are aware of what they are selling... without [any] greater aspirations than to make people laugh and that's it.
The film may be flawed, but its message is not.
I am Russian but yet I am a huge Civil War of 1861-1865 buff and thus I guess I have watched almost all films and serials on the topic. This 1985 serial based on John Jake's epic book is a must see as it is one of the deepest, best and heartfelt efforts in the genre - it shows excellent depth and admirable attitude to all the main characters who live their lives and face the terrible war. All of the main cast members are a very good choice, with Patrick Swayze and James Read being two greatest stars, but then how can we bypass Kirsty Allie or David Carradine, as well as Hol Holbrook or Johnny Cash/ Each episode is a treat to eyes, and the severity of antebellum as well as war-time America is shown with great candid eye and sober mind.
Highly recommended as well as the second Part of the saga, but think twice before ever approaching the third instalment as it is by far the worst.
If Margaret Mitchell were writing Gone With The Wind today I daresay it would have wound up a mini-series like North And South. The Seventies and Eighties were the decades for the television mini-series. Two of them, this one and The Blue And The Gray are Civil War epics and both concentrate on the struggles of two families each on the other side of the great divide of the 1860s.One of the things I liked about the series it showed very clearly the difference in development of the sections. The North gradually got rid of slavery nearly all states had slaves at one point, but slavery doesn't work in an industrial society where workers develop some skills and hence have to be paid for those skills. Not much skill in being an agricultural laborer. But the south was following the doctrine of Thomas Jefferson who saw evil in an industrial society and they stubbornly refused to develop industry. Whereas the North followed Alexander Hamilton's emphasis on manufacturing. The South produced some great military leaders, but was overwhelmed by the North's industrial machine.The Hazards were an industrial family in Pennsylvania, ironmongers from the Lehigh Valley. The Mains were a family of southern planters from South Carolina. Two sons of these families James Read from the Hazards and Patrick Swayze from the Mains become the best of friends at West Point and serve in the Mexican War together. Their comradeship endures because of that common bond though it gets severely tested because of the issue of slavery which is splitting the whole country not to mention whole families. Read and Swayze represent the best in a tradition from both sections, each acknowledges their weakness and each ready to defend their section when the crisis comes.An impeccably cast group of players brings to life the characters of the period. Some name guest stars like Gene Kelly and Robert Mitchum have small roles. So do Johnny Cash as John Brown and Hal Holbrook as Abraham Lincoln.Ironically both men have sisters that are the most radical and dangerous in their families. They also have the juiciest roles in the mini-series. Terri Garber is Swayze's sister and Scarlett O'Hara was Mary Poppins next to her. But Scarlett despite her flirtations and scheming had a great strength of character. Garber's character is one evil vixen as her family learns to their regret.Kirstie Alley is Read's sister and the Hazard family is not sympathy with slavery. But she takes it to the extreme. She's an abolitionist and a feminist something like 140 years ahead of her time. She weds a runaway slave, Georg Stanford Brown from the Main plantation who is later killed at Harper's Ferry. She was as radical as they came from the period. But Brown's death totally unhinges her and she descends to madness. That will be seen in Book Two.In the end as war is upon them the personal friendship endures, but no one knows how this will end. I suspect in 1861 few knew with absolute certainty how it would all end.North And South is what mini-series is all about. So many good ones came out of that era and this is one of the best.
I saw this miniseries when it first came out and I was 10 years old. Both the lead actors are so handsome and wonderful in their roles. The girls are very good too. I really recommend this series for teaching about the human aspect of the civil war and that it's not so black and white because even though it seems one side was right, it doesn't mean the other side didn't also have some good in them. It's more of a romance than a historical epic, so be aware of that when watching. For good historical content, watch the Ken Burns series about the Civil War. Anyway, this series is romantic sort of like Gone With the Wind for the 80's generation. I'm so glad it's still available for new audiences to get as much joy out of it as I did.
Based on votes and reviews here at IMDb, I purchased a DVD compilation of Books 1-3 at Costco. I wish I hadn't. The votes and reviews gave it a high vote percentage and the reviews were all superlative. I thought it would be reliably good and time-tested. I feel deceived. This is not a historical drama. It is a historical soap opera. Many of the actors are soap stars and it shows. Most of the acting lacks any real depth. The story is simplistic and there are only passing references to historical events. You won't find yourself learning anything about The Civil War you don't already know. The story in Book 2 is more complex than Book 1 but not by much. So much of what happens in Book 1-2 is simply implausible, illogical or both. Events would not, and could not, happen as portrayed. Events are plausible and logical for 1980s+ values and that is what they reflect. By the last DVD in Book 2 I was simply fast forwarding and I still had time to read all the captions. Luckily, one of the DVD's is defective so I can return it and get my money back. I decided not to bother with Book 3. The whole thing was a complete waste. I'll stick to quality BBC mini-series in the future, especially ones based on classic literature. This is a monumental waste of time and money. You'd be better served by reading Gone With The Wind and/or watching Ken Burns' documentary, The Civil War.