I continually marvel at the friendships I’ve developed through our mutual interest in Richard Crispin Armitage. Some refer to it as “fangirling”. For me, it is wonderful to meet other ladies whom I can intelligently discuss the stories, plots, characters, and symbolism within Mr. Armitage’s many roles and films/ programs. And/or I read their blogs with their critiques and opinions about Mr. Armitage’s artistic projects and character portrayals. A fun way to look at a few of Mr. Armitage’s many roles is the following video–and this was one of the very first fan videos that I watched, and it clued me in to other roles of his:
Radar Richard Armitage Video by spikesbint
With regard to symbolism, cotton manufacturing is central to the conflict in the 2004 BBC production of North & South–the schism of cultures and values between the industrial North and the bucolic South of England. Yet John Thornton [(1) John Thornton] from the North and Margaret Hale from the South eventually develop an understanding and sympathy for each other. And the symbolism of cotton pervades the art direction of the production–from cotton shirts worn by John and the cotton dresses worn by Margaret, to the linens that John’s sister Fanny purchases before her wedding, to the wisps of cotton particles floating in the air at the mill. Cotton is what drives John Thornton’s fortune and empire–and it is the means by which Margaret’s friends the workers earn their living. Fitzg had an interesting essay on cotton via a guest blog post on Judiang’s Watching blog on Monday (http://www.jagrant.com/watcher/fitzgs-journey-bless-his-cotton-socks ).
For an example of subtle symbolism in North & South, look for the mise en scene of bales of cotton that can be seen through the train window behind John Thornton when Margaret Hale walks over to him to head back to Milton with him and he sees her reflection in the train window and turns around to face her (at 2:46 in the North & South closing train station kissing scene from episode 4 excerpted in this You Tube video):
North & South ending / train station scene by darcywil
Okay, I know, any excuse to see the train station kissing scene. Ha! But hey, the man–that is Mr. Armitage portraying John Thornton–kisses Daniella Denby-Ashe portraying Margaret Hale so tenderly, then lovingly, then passionately that you know John and Margaret’s will be a true love match. Sighhhhh! This scene is the most romantic love scene ever filmed in my eyes.
In the interview of Mr. Armitage on the North & South dvd, he smiled and lowered his eyes saying that filming that kissing scene over and over again, “was a very nice way to spend the afternoon”. Indeed. Here are Mr. Armitage’s thoughts about the North and South production–with his quote about the kissing scene coming at 1:58 in this You Tube video:
North & South Special Features: Richard Armitage Interview Pt 2 by nelsonwilby
And I say again, I was astonished that the man being interviewed about portraying the character of John Thornton–the “role of a lifetime”–was the actor who portrayed him. Mr. Armitage’s slightly shy–slouched in his chair, barely looking at the camera–but articulate interview persona was a far cry from the in command and regal John Thornton. I knew then and there how amazingly brilliant an actor Richard Armitage was and is.
But it’s also fun to be able to giggle like school girls again with my RA Fangirl friends about our admiration for Richard Armitage’s exquisite acting talent and his drop dead gorgeous looks. In the talent department, witness some pictures of a few of his other Lead Male roles that Mr. Armitage is best known for as he conveys the emotional essence of the characters at a particularly difficult moment in time for each of the characters:
And on the talented and handsome end of the equation? Richard fella, you are. Just embrace it–we do. Ha! Judiang has a continuing Foolish Friday series about Mr. Armitage’s handsomeness on her blog Confessions of a Watcher (http://www.jagrant.com/watcher/foolish-friday-put-your-head-on-my-shoulder/ ). And, oh yeah, he is. Let’s look at these same character portrayals when they are in a more upbeat and positive mode–and note the transformation that Richard Armitage effects in these characters’ physicality as being emblematic of their positive inner psychological states (these versions of the characters ooze confidence–which is very becoming):
But, the bottom line is that Richard Armitage and his searing character portrayals have sincerely melted our hearts. Mr. Armitage is a master storyteller, and exquisite actor, and gentleman. What is not to like? Between or within his character portrayals, Richard Armitage reinvents himself and his characters time and again–giving them layers of complexities and shadings of nuances that create an authentic persona in that character portrayal.
This complexity of character and subtle shading is especially true when Mr. Armitage is playing a villain, he finds the humanity in the character such that we as his audience see that humanity, too. Never was this revealed humanity more evident than in the transformation Mr. Armitage gave to Sir Guy of Gisborne over the three series of the Robin Hood tv show. Sir Guy went from evil henchman, to hopeful lover of Lady Marian, to tormented soul for killing his love Lady Marian, to a man redeemed in his death by fighting for Lady Marian’s cause. So, here is one last video by Veritas which sums up how many of us feel about Mr. Armitage in the role of Sir Guy of Gisborne–no matter what time zone, continent, or country we’re in:
RA/Guy You’ve Stolen Our Hearts by Veritas (July 2009)
And my RA Fangirl friends come from around the world–nearly every continent–North and South America, Europe, Russia, Asia, and Australia, etc.–and dozens of countries The countries that I’m aware of are: U.S., Canada, Mexico, Brazill, England, Portugal, Spain, China, Switzerland, etc. I thought about listing an A to Z of their names and let them fill in their countries. But, wanting to respect their privacy, I’ll let them comment if they wish to on this post and share where they’re from and their take on Richard Armitage’s talent, gorgeousness, and such.
(1) North & South (2004)–promo picture of Margaret Hale and John Thornton with wisps of cotton and bales of cotton surrounding them.
(2) Sparkhouse (2002), episode 3–John Standring is worried that Carol Bolton will make a fool of him, taking his money and not being a real wife to him–heartbreaking.
(3) Robin Hood series 3 (2009), episode 1–Sir Guy of Gisborne begging for death at Robin’s hand, because as Guy says “I live in hell” for killing Marian, the love of his life.
(4) Spooks series 7 (2008), episode 1–Lucas North returns to England and MI-5 after 8 years in Russian prison. He is gaunt, cautious, and uncertain about his future and whether he can reclaim his old life–or some semblance of it.
(5) Strike Back series 1 (2010), episode 1–John Porter has languished for seven years after being blamed for the deaths of his comrades on a military mission. He works as a lowly garage security guard with no prospects for turning his life around.
(6) Sparkhouse (2002), episode3–John Standring and Carol Bolton have just been married. One of her secrets has been revealed–that her sister Lisa is really her daughter, conceived after being sexually abused by her father. John caringly tells Carol that she can confide in him.
(7) Robin Hood series 3 (2009), episode 5–Sir Guy of Gisborne returns from months with the Prince Regent–commanding an elite army and provided with a “secret” weapon. Sir Guy is no longer beholden to the evil Sherif Vasy. The confidence and contentment in Sir Guy’s face is quite evident:
(8) Spooks series 8 (2009), episode 8–Lucas North analyzing data.
(9) Strike Back series 1 (2010), episode 1–John Porter convinces his former comrades that he can help save a journalist’s life. This picture is just before he leaves on his mission.