Customer Reviews


64 Reviews
5 star:
 (37)
4 star:
 (13)
3 star:
 (8)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:
 (3)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


164 of 166 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic drama - long anticipated
I've been waiting for ages for this drama to get DVD'd. Although the rather quickly designed packaging would lead you to think that the story took place solely in Egypt the three disks are an excellent print. This is the ever wonderful Alan Plater's adaptation of Olivia Manning's series of 6 semi-autobiographical books charting World War Two from the civilian angle. Ken...
Published on 29 Oct 2006 by Julie Cutler

versus
31 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "What Larks!" - The Brits Abroad in WW2
This is an excellent production with wonderful scenic views and the expected high BBC standards, however, I am afraid I found the characters so universally irritating I had to knock off a few stars!

Guy Pringle and wife Harriet live in Budapest where he works as an English teacher. When the war comes they flee to Athens and then to Cairo, always managing to...
Published on 6 Sep 2007 by Scots Lass


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

164 of 166 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic drama - long anticipated, 29 Oct 2006
By 
Julie Cutler (Warwickshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fortunes Of War (Three Discs) [DVD] [1987] (DVD)
I've been waiting for ages for this drama to get DVD'd. Although the rather quickly designed packaging would lead you to think that the story took place solely in Egypt the three disks are an excellent print. This is the ever wonderful Alan Plater's adaptation of Olivia Manning's series of 6 semi-autobiographical books charting World War Two from the civilian angle. Ken and Em star as a newly married couple, the Pringles, learning to fall out of love and back in again on the microscale. (The actors coincidentally married two years after and then fell out again).

Guy Pringle is a myopic English teacher spreading culture to foreign lands, always the centre of attention, and totally engrossed in his work, who soon forgets to pay attention to the strong willed Harriet, his new wife. At the same time the Nazi advance across Europe forces them to abandon their home first in Romania (filmed in Yugoslavia), then Greece ,and finally threatens their life in Egypt. On the way their brilliantly portrayed chance acquaitances veer from irritants to allies as the world around becomes more and more dangerous.

Other long term fans will be happy to note that unlike the pruriently edited versions shown on digital TV that this disk does actually feature the explanation for Bill Castelbar's bucket of cold water by his bedside. The rest of you will have to wait to episode 6. Delicious grown up drama. it's got to be better than reality TV!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


76 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fortunes of War - TV drama at its very best, 12 July 2008
By 
Mr. Derek Denton (South Lakeland, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fortunes Of War (Three Discs) [DVD] [1987] (DVD)
I was delighted to find 'Fortunes of War' on disc after years of wondering if I ever would. Now I have it and it is even better than I remembered it being. The setting is Romania 1939 onwards, when Hitler is just beginning to wreak havoc in other parts of Europe. Guy and Harriet Pringle are newly married and she accompanies her husband back to Bucharest where he lectures at the university under the auspices of the British Council.The British are well thought of by the Romanians initially because Britain has promised to protect Romania in the event of a war. As it becomes increasingly obvious that Britain can hardly look after itself as the Nazi onslaught begins to crush one country after another, the Romanian leadership decides it had better curry favour with the Axis powers. Besides, there is already a strong German presence in Bucharest. Meanwhile, there is the growing menace of the Romanian fascist party to contend with as it begins to flex its muscles. Inevitably, the British residents come to be regarded as an embarrassment. Finally, the Pringles and others in their milieu are forced to flee. The action moves to Greece and then Egypt as the war gets steadily more threatening. Throughout the drama we follow the fortunes of a wide and intriguing cast of characters. Don't expect much in the way of battle scenes, though there are a few. This is about people away from the theatre of war, but whose lives are caught up in the growing menace of the Axis powers.

Everything about this production is first rate. This includes not only the excellent script (based on Olivia Manning's stunning THE BALKAN TRILOGY and its sequel THE LEVANT TRILOGY) and the cast list, but the photography, the settings, and the music. As with the best film and television drama, the casting has to be right, and here the casting director and his team have got it spot on. Now that I have bought and am reading 'The Balkan Trilogy' (from Amazon of course), I can see what a clever job Alan Plater has made of the adaptation of what is simply a wonderful sequence of novels. So what is the enduring impression I am left with? It is that feeling you get when you have enjoyed a work of art which is really well crafted, where nothing is skimped, and which never insults your intelligence, ever. The 'Fortunes of War' is so good, as are the books on which it is based, that you can return to it again and again. Marvellous value. Watching 'The Fortunes of War', with its splendid production values so plain to see, you realize just what poor stuff we are served up with today by way of film and television. Bring back the old days, I say, when less definitely was more!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Start of a Beautiful Friendship!", 24 Jan 2006
By 
F. S. L'hoir (Irvine, CA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
I was so pleased when "Fortunes of War" was released on DVD! When I first saw this splendid BBC television series, I rushed to the nearest bookstore and bought Olivia Manning's mammoth Balkan and Levant trilogies, which I have since devoured at least three times. Reading, however, in no way lessens, but, instead, enhances one's enjoyment of "Fortunes of War," which preserves the essence of Manning's novels. Visually stunning, the film recreates Bucharest and Athens on the brink of World War II, and then Cairo and Alexandria, as well as Damascus and Jerusalem. One step ahead of the advancing Nazi armies, Guy and Harriet Pringle, the film's central characters, are constantly uprooted and forced to be on the move.
Guy, acted with affable understatement by Kenneth Brannagh, epitomizes the type of academic who constantly puts the wants of his students first. Friend to all the world, Guy Pringle remains totally oblivious to the needs of his newly-married bride. Harriet, played with a dry and subtle irony by Emma Thompson, must cope with setting up house, first, in a city that is about to fall to the juggernaut of the Third Reich; next, in a series of hotel rooms, each more seedy than the last; and finally, sharing digs in Cairo with an odd assortment of British expatriates (and their even odder friends and acquaintances who continually drift in and out of the premises). Guy simply cannot understand that Harriet might be miffed at his heedlessness. For example, after Guy offers her the female title role in Shakespeare's "Troilus and Cressida," she suddenly discovers that he has taken the part away without telling her and has given it to Sophie, a Rumanian professional student and troublemaker who resents Harriet's presence, both in Bucharest and in Guy's life. It is not that Guy Pringle does not love his "little monkey's paws," Harriet; he simply takes her for granted.
Among the outstanding ensemble cast, two performances are memorable: those of Ronald Pickup and Alan Bennett.
Pickup plays the incorrigible Prince Yakimov, a displaced Anglo-Russian aristocrat, long-since fallen on hard times. Pickup's performance is so poignantly nuanced that the viewer is moved from loathing, to laughing--first at him and then with him--and finally to loving him. "Poor Yaki" resembles a spoiled but irrepressibly sweet and helpless child. Not even the much-imposed-upon Harriet can remain angry at a man who appears before her wearing one brown and one black shoe and then explains that he has another pair just like them at home.
Alan Bennett plays the insufferably fussy Cambridge don, Professor Lord Pinkrose, who is always on the verge of giving his renowned lecture on Byron but who, for one reason or another, is always prevented from doing so. Bennett's performance does not make one love Pinkrose (nor should it). Pinkrose, who always darts a baneful glance in Harriet's direction, causes Guy so much trouble that the viewer is tempted to cheer when the Lord Professor finally gets his just desserts. Every film ought to have a character that one loves to hate, and Alan Bennett plays this one to perfection.
The viewer seeking the wartime thrills of dogfighting Messerschmidts, exploding bombs, and action packed battle sequences should rent "Saving Private Ryan" or a John Wayne movie. Even though the conflict in "Fortunes of War" is omnipresent, it is always just over the horizon. It nevertheless exerts a profound impact on the characters, both major and minor. It exerts an equally profound impact on the audience. For the discerning viewer, who appreciates exceptional acting and remarkable characterization, "Fortunes of War" represents the epitome of cinematic storytelling.
For Kenneth Brannagh and Emma Thompson, who acted together for the first time, this film represented "the start of a beautiful friendship," both on film and in real life. Unfortunately, it was not to last, but "Fortunes of War" at least allows us to glimpse the brilliant start, and to be glad that their joint venture in film lasted as long as it did!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Curate's Egg, 9 July 2010
By 
M. J. Nelson (Leeds) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fortunes Of War (Three Discs) [DVD] [1987] (DVD)
Not having read Olivia Manning's sequence of novels on which this adaptation is based I do not know how faithful Alan Plater has been to the original but since he was a television writer of distinction I have little doubt that he has done a good job. This is the sort of expensive, prestige production of a near classic 20th century literary work, with an excellent cast and high production values, such as neither the BBC nor, for that matter it seems, ITV now have the resources to repeat. Enjoyable though it is, I suggest that the first, Bucharest/Athens, half is significantly superior to the Egyptian half. Whereas the former is full of interesting political dimensions, apart from the attraction of the central story of a not totally successful marriage, the latter is spoiled by too much attention to the tiresome love affairs of such characters as Edwina and Angela. Sometimes, too, the scenery and the interior settings, impressive though they are, tend to swamp the human dimensions of the narrative. Nevertheless it is enough to admire the professionalism of such high-calibre actors as Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Ronald Pickup (especially), Robert Stephens and Charles Kay (not to mention the unexpected appearance of Alan Bennett as a irritable and irritating Professor of English Literature whose lecture on Byron has such a bizarrely tragic outcome). The extras are, in my view, dispensible except for the documentary about Alan Plater, which reminds us, so sadly now, of just how much he contributed to television drama and what an astonishingly prolific and versatile writer he was.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A war film with a difference, 24 Jan 2009
This review is from: Fortunes Of War (Three Discs) [DVD] [1987] (DVD)
Foetunes of War is an adaptation of Olivia Mannigs autobiographical novels The Balkan and Levant Trilogies which are two of my personal favourite books. I had read them both before I watched the DVD. The books are better than this film as they go into more detail. Characters and events are better described, particularly the realtionship between Guy and Harriet which in the books comes across as more stormy. Also the books give more insight into the countries at war, but that happens with most film adaptations and you could probably only get that from reading the books anyway.
However, that does not distract from the endless enjoyment that you can get from watching the series and there is plenty to commend it. Excellent performances from all of the actors, wondeful chemistry between Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh, beautiful costumes, locations and goregous music that youll be whistling long after you've finished watching. As with the books I like the second half of the story best which takes place in egypt as the settings are more interesting and the story gets more exciting.
There are a couple of plot points in the film that are not fully explained i.e what happened to Professor Inchcape did he survive to the end of the war or did the Nazis catch him? and what happened to the rest of the Druker family? But other than that this is an excellent series that you can watch over and over again and one to buy.
Also interesting to read is Olivia Manning A Life by Neville and June Braybrooke so you can see how much of the story is based on her actual war time experinces.
If you enjoyed this, then Olivia Manning's other books are just as good, especially The Rain Forest
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magnificent Realization of a Magnificent Six-Part Novel!, 24 Mar 2010
By 
F. S. L'hoir (Irvine, CA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fortunes Of War (Three Discs) [DVD] [1987] (DVD)
I am so pleased that "Fortunes of War" has been released on Region 2. Based upon Olivia Manning's "Balkan Trilogy" and "Levant Trilogy," this production is an exception to the rule that the film cannot live up to the novel. "Fortunes of Wars" both complements and enhances one's enjoyment of Olivia Manning's original work, just as the original complements and enhances one's enjoyment of this outstanding cinematic rendition, which recreates Bucharest at the brink of World War II. One step of the advancing Nazi armies, its central characters, Guy and Harriet Pringle, are constantly uprooted and forced to move onto the next tenuous outpost of the free-but-threatened world: from Bucharest to Athens; Cairo and Alexandria; Damascus and Jerusalem.

Acted with affable understatement by Kenneth Brannagh, Guy Pringle epitomizes a type of academic who constantly puts the wants of his students first. Friend to all the world, Guy remains oblivious to the needs of his newly-married wife. Played with dry and subtle irony by Emma Thompson, Harriet must cope with setting up house, first, in a city that is about to fall to the juggernaut of the Third Reich; next, in a series of hotel rooms, each more seedy than the last; and finally, in Cairo, sharing digs with an odd assortment of British expatriates (and their even odder friends and acquaintances who continually drift in and out of the premises). Guy simply cannot understand that Harriet might be miffed at his heedlessness, such as offering her the female title role in Shakespeare's "Troilus and Cressida," and then without telling her, giving the part away to Sophie, a Rumanian professional student and troublemaker who resents Harriet's presence, both in Bucharest and in Guy's life. It is not that Guy Pringle does not love his "little monkey's paws," Harriet; he simply takes her for granted.

Among the outstanding ensemble cast, two performances are memorable: those of Ronald Pickup and Alan Bennett.

Pickup plays the incorrigible Prince Yakimov, a displaced Anglo-Russian aristocrat, long-since fallen on hard times. Pickup's performance is so poignantly nuanced that the viewer is moved from loathing, to laughing--first at him and then with him--and finally to loving him. "Poor Yaki" resembles a spoiled but irrepressibly sweet and helpless child. Not even the much-imposed-upon Harriet can remain angry at a man who appears before her wearing one brown and one black shoe and then explains that he has another pair just like them at home.

Alan Bennett plays the insufferably fussy Cambridge don, Professor Lord Pinkrose, who is always on the verge of giving his renowned lecture on Byron but who, for one reason or another, is always prevented from doing so. Bennett's performance does not make one love Pinkrose (nor should it). Pinkrose, who continually darts baneful glances in Harriet's direction, causes Guy so much trouble that the viewer is tempted to cheer when the Lord Professor finally gets his just desserts. Every film ought to have a character that one loves to hate, and Alan Bennett plays this one to perfection.

The viewer seeking the wartime thrills of dogfighting Messerschmidts, exploding bombs, and action-packed battle sequences should look elsewhere. Even though the conflict in "Fortunes of War" is omnipresent, it is always just over the horizon. It nevertheless exerts a profound impact on the characters, both major and minor. It exerts an equally profound impact on the audience. For the discerning viewer, who appreciates exceptional acting and remarkable characterization, "Fortunes of War" represents the epitome of cinematic storytelling.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love during WWII, 1 Mar 2007
By 
Olivia Blair "climatic_fanatic" (Aberfeldy) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fortunes Of War (Three Discs) [DVD] [1987] (DVD)
Fortunes of War is the collective name given to six novels by Olivia Manning. The novels were adapted for television by the BBC, starring Kenneth Branagh as Guy and Emma Thompson as Harriet. Other stars included Ronald Pickup, Robert Stephens, Alan Bennett and Rupert Graves.

Fortunes of War won five awards including 3 BAFTAs.

Set in War Time Bucharest in 1939, British professor Guy Pringle (Kenneth Branagh) arrives in Romania with his new bride, Harriet (Emma Thompson) and becomes trapped in the politics of anti-fascism. Guys' social circle starts to include members of the British Secret Service who wish to involve him in secret missions against his wife Harriets' wishes and the incorrigible Prince Yakimov who takes advantage of Guy's generous nature and winds up living with the Pringles. Their marriage is soon tested by accidental betrayal, sensitivity and a world in turmoil.

Speical bits include: "Time Shift" - a 38 minute documentary on writer Alan Plater. Appearances by Ron Pickup, James Cellan Jones and Alan Plater on "Open Air" "Breakfast Time" on-location report. Sue Lawley interviews Emma Thompson on "Wogan". Ludivik Kennedy and guests discuss the programme on "Did You See?"
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality drama, 24 July 2007
This review is from: Fortunes Of War (Three Discs) [DVD] [1987] (DVD)
Another drama of quality from the BBC. So many good actors, and so many entertaining characters. There are a lot of witty lines in this as well as scenes of sadness. I was really moved by some of the scenes, especially at the end.
Guy Pringle thinks everyone is extraordinary. Unfortunately because he wishes to help and befriend everyone, he neglects his wife, who he does actually love. He loathes and despises facism, and refuses to let the war stop his teaching or putting on a play.
I would disagree with another review that states that the Pringles and their friends are not aware of the realities of the war. They do experience the ill fortunes of war in various ways, as follows:
The disappearnce of Sacha Druker and the arrest of his father.
The death of Prince Yakimov.
A boy killed by an unexploded bomb.
The crippling of a young officer.
Aiden Pratt, 'haunted' by the deaths of children he shared a lifeboat with.
The 'separation' of Harriet and Guy.
This is something you can watch more than once. I have, several times.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top quality BBC drama, 7 Oct 2010
By 
This review is from: Fortunes Of War (Three Discs) [DVD] [1987] (DVD)
Anyone personally involved in WW2 will have an inevitably limited (but unique) perspective of that vast event, based on their personal experience of it. Fortunes of War is WW2 portrayed through the limited but unique experiences of Harriet Pringle (Emma Thompson).
Harriet is a highly intelligent and articulate young woman with very limited experience of life and men hitherto, who embarks on a marriage that places her first on the periphery, and then in the centre, of the War. Despite her efforts to be useful, she is relegated firmly to ancillary and minor roles in the war effort. Britain was still a very patriarchal society, and war was a man's business. Harriet is a detached and perceptive observer of the extraordinary behaviour of men involved in war (not least, her own husband), and we are invited to share her bemusement, amazement, horror, compassion - and maturing understanding of men and of her own marriage.
It's hard to remember now that this is the role that made the world take Emma Thompson seriously as an actress. She gives a magnificent performance, ably supported by Kenneth Branagh and an excellent cast.
The drama has an unhurried sweep and spacious mise-en-scene that will be startling to viewers accustomed to a more financially straitened and ratings-driven BBC. The acting is first-class and there is much subtle detail. My partner and I found our first viewing absorbing, and after much discussion of characters and themes, we are looking forward to a repeat viewing in which to clarify some of the issues and notice some of the fine detail that we missed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ideal Present for Culture Vultures, 24 July 2009
By 
Mr. J. Coope (Surrey UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fortunes Of War (Three Discs) [DVD] [1987] (DVD)
This set is PURE Class throughout......not only the two famous principals but a list of supporting actors 'to die for'. Ronald Pickup as Prince Yaki is TREMENDOUS.

Guy and Harriet have a series of breathless adventures all across the Balkans & Greece, just staying ahead of the Nazi advance. And then on into Egypt where they continue to keep the British cultural flag flying during WW2.

Every episode brings new delights, especially career rivalry, tragedy, comedy plus the usual humdrum side of married life.

My personal favorite was Charles Kay as 'Dobson' from the Embassy,
a beautifully understated portrayal. A lovely cameo also by Alan Bennett as Prof Pinkrose

if you can't think what to give 'Auntie Flossie' then think no further....she'll adore this one !
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Fortunes Of War (Three Discs) [DVD] [1987]
Fortunes Of War (Three Discs) [DVD] [1987] by James Cellan Jones (DVD - 2006)
£11.26
Usually dispatched within 2 to 4 weeks
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews