Friday, May 4, 2018 is the thirty-second anniversary of Book 2 of the miniseries heralded by some as the Gone With the Wind of television.
On Sunday, May 4, 1986, the saga of the Mains and Hazards continued in
North and South: Book II as the families’ friendship and loyalty was tested by the Civil War. Orry and Charles Main fought for the Confederacy while George and Billy Hazard were Union officers. For six consecutive nights, viewers watched events unfold in this television adaptation of John Jakes’ “Love and War”
The fall of the previous year, viewers were introduced to the Mains and Hazards when North and South aired the week of November 3, 1985. When last we saw Orry Main and George Hazard, the Civil War had begun and Orry was boarding a supply train to take him to Washington where he would make his journey back home to South Carolina. Both Orry and George had no idea if or when they would see each other again, but prayed that it wouldn’t be on a battle field.
The all-star cast included James Read, Patrick Swayze, Lesley-Anne Down, Lewis Smith, Parker Stevenson, Genie Francis, Terri Garber, Philip Casnoff, Kirstie Alley, Jean Simmons, Wendy Kilbourne, Mary Crosby, Jonathan Frakes, Kate McNeil, Erica Gimble, Hal Holbrook, Linda Evans, James Stewart, Lee Horsley, Anthony Zerbe and Olivia de Havilland.
This ABC Novel for Television miniseries filmed on location throughout many southern states giving the production an authentic feel. Additionally, Civil War reenactors added a realism to the battle scenes. Bill Conti’s powerful score was a musical masterpiece in itself.
North and South is my favorite movie of all time. I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve seen Book I and Book II (Book III was may least favorite so I’ve only seen that one twice). I know scene order and can recite full scene dialogue. I’m often questioned as an African American why a movie that discusses slavery and focusing on the events leading to and depicting the Civil War is a favorite. I guess it is the same when those who fought in wars are questioned on their enjoyment of war movies. You know the horrors faced by those who actually lived through the time, but you admire their courage and you are fascinated by the history that you want to learn more. I am a student of history and have consumed large amounts of reading material on many different historical events in my fifty-two years. I also love historical and historical adaptation movies. To see a film maker take a real time period using facts and persons that were there and recreating it for the screen is amazing. North and South is a marvel. It’s powerful themes and interaction of fictional characters like the Main and Hazard families with Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis and others helped to make history come alive. And although I love Gone With the Wind, to me it felt one sided. Scarlett O’ Hara was the heroine, the southern belle who rose from the ashes of the Civil War, while the Yankees were the evil villains who destroyed the south. But North and South shows both sides of the coin and the errors made that contributed to the Civil War. I feel that the message is one we need to learn in order to avoid a similar tragedy in the future. People are different with different views based on their culture and heritage. You don’t need to agree with their beliefs but you should respect the differences and perhaps try to learn more about who they are. George Hazard and Orry Main’s friendship is a prime example of what works and doesn’t work. They loved each other, but when they tried to change each other’s views was when they had their biggest arguments that threatened their friendship.
North and South is one of those movies that endures the test of time. It is considered one of the greatest movies of the era of the television miniseries.
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