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DVD Review

DVD cover

North and South
Book III - Heaven and Hell


Starring: Patrick Swayze, James Read and Philip Casnoff
Warner Home Video
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 12
Available 20 October 2008

North and South was a popular American mini series which followed events before, during and after the American Civil War. The story follows two friends who meet at West Point: Orry Main, a southerner and George Hazard, a northerner. The story follows the two families to examine the impact that the war had on both families and country.

The first two parts of the series were some of the most popular in American history, however Heaven and Hell: North and South Book III (1994) did not fare so well. Book III covers the period between summer 1865 and summer 1866, with a relatively simple story. Unlike its Emmy winning predecessors the show was only nominated for one cinematography award, it didn’t win it. However, the pull of the show still ensured that a goodly amount of the Hollywood glitterati were willing to take walk on parts.

Elkanah Bent (Philip Casinoff) vows revenge and kills Orry (Patrick Swayze), whilst at the same time George (James Read) is in the West. Orrys widow, Madeline (Lesley-Anne Down) tries, with her freed slaves, to rebuild the family mansion, but meets with a lot of resistance from her bigoted neighbours. When Bent shows up on the scene Madeline turns to George for help and after a  few shenanigans he succeeds in killing Bent and settling down with Madeline.

I can see why this portion of the series was so badly received; first off they kill one of the most popular characters, leaving only a darker, soap opera, version of Gone with The Wind. And whilst the cast try to do what they can with the script, it is painfully evident that the material has become just a little too thin.

The show is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio, spread across two discs - the whole thing running to 262 minutes, The picture isn’t too bad for a show of this age, but certainly does not appear to have had any restoration done. You do get a couple of extras in the form of a half hour featurette The History of North and South including cast and crew interviews.

This is very much the poorer cousin of the series and one for completists only.


Charles Packer

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