Sunday, June 19, 2016

Dvd/150: FORTUNES OF WAR (James Cellan Jones, 1987, tv)

An "intimate epic", FORTUNES OF WAR was a BBC series adapted by Alan Plater from Olivia Manning's novels and marked the first time Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson worked together.

Newly-weds Harriet and college lecturer Guy Pringle arrive in Romania in 1939 but they and the British community find life increasingly dangerous as the Nazis approach.  Among their coterie is Prince Yakimov, a spineless drifter existing from handout to handout.

Rational Harriet realizes that Guy's idealism means he will always puts others' needs before hers but when they flee first to Greece then Egypt, the marriage is stretched to breaking point.

Emma won a BAFTA for this and her pragmatic Harriet is a foretaste of her Oscar-winning Margaret in HOWARDS END.  Branagh is hampered by looking 12 years old but Ronald Pickup is excellent, among a stellar supporting cast, as Yaki, an eccentric fatally adrift in war time.

Shelf or charity shop?  A keeper for the luminous Emma (and the locations)

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