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Fortunes of War – #3/7 – Romania: June 1940 – Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson


Fortunes of War is a 1987 BBC television adaptation of Olivia Manning’s cycle of novels Fortunes of War. It stars Kenneth Branagh as Guy Pringle, lecturer in English Literature in Bucharest during the early part of the Second World War, and Emma Thompson as his wife Harriet. Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson met filming the TV series and married in real life. Other cast members included Ronald Pickup, Robert Stephens, Alan Bennett, Philip Madoc and Rupert Graves. The series stays relatively faithful to the original novels, with no notable departures from their plot.


This episode

The fascist Iron Guard increase their power and the British fall out of favour with the Romanians. Sasha remains in hiding at the Pringles’ home and becomes friends with Harriet. Sophie attempts to lure Guy to her apartment and he finally sees through her. Another expatriate, Toby Lush, arrives, looking for a job at the university. Yakimov puts his life at risk for the sake of a good meal and a bottle of wine. When Dobson announces that the British Legation recommends everyone should return home, he receives a mixed reaction. As a result of Yakimov’s impropriety, Guy finds himself a wanted man. Harriet attends Sasha’s father’s trial but has difficulty giving a true account of events. Tension mounts as the fascists take over, and the Pringles, with the help of Clarence Lawson, try to smuggle Sasha out to safety. In the midst of chaos, British academic Lord Pinkrose arrives to give a lecture on Byron. As the violence escalates, the expats plan their escape routes.

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