As my last post may suggest, I reread Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South this week. I had other things to do(read), but couldn't help myself. It's been pounding through my head for weeks. It would have been faster to watch the film, but I've done that often enough - and where, oh where, is my second dvd? It is good to remember all the myriad ways the film falls short of the novel. The film is so clearly a contemporary production - it washes itself clean from all inter-class condescension that would offend our politically correct senses, and strips itself bare of any suggestions of moralization or religious conviction. We moderns just wouldn't relate. In the novel, the pivotal misunderstanding between Margaret Hale and Mr. Thornton centers on a lie. That just won't do for a film. Anyone would lie given the circumstances! It must be more salacious than that. The material is there for a greater misunderstanding - it is suggested, but even Mr. Thornton cannot quite believe (though he cannot disbelieve) her capable of such indiscretion. Not so in the film. A lie is not offensive enough. We cannot relate to a woman who would be so bowed with shame over one small lie - spoken to protect one she loves from almost certain death. No, our sins are too great, our sense of guilt too frequently pandered to and quickly self-justified. It's an odd contrast.