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!