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Guy Pringle and his new wife, Harriet, are members of the English community in Bucharest, Rumania on the eve of World War II. The film catalogs and chronicles, after the war begins, the characters [diplomats, literary types, spies, penniless royalty, gays, lesbians] that cross and re-cross their path as they flee before the advancing Germany armies to Athens and then to Cairo. Written by
Noble Bell <email@example.com>
Discerning Northern Irish actor Kenneth Branagh and the beautiful, brilliant Emma Thompson met and presumably fell in love here, as they play bohemian British newlyweds Guy and Harriet Pringle who arrive in Bucharest, as does the slothful, flat broke Prince Yakimov, who takes up an ad hoc job as a photojournalist of sorts on a British paper to save himself from total indigence. Harriet is introduced to her fellow expatriates, but their happy life is disjoined by the assassination of Romania's prime minister and Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland. Gossip murmurs of a German invasion of Romania and Guy, mentally consumed all the same in his work and arranging civil occasions, is gaulled by his Communism (no pun intended) to take peripheral measures to take care of the family of a Jewish student of his from the anti-Semitic Romanian regime. Although this premise sounds as if it gains momentum and grows more and more exciting, it decidedly does not.
Almost reminiscent of the Jean Renoir film Grand Illusion, Fortunes of War shows a group of people segueing through meetings with different cultures, a war raging on around them but not bothering them any more than some other long-term struggle. But unlike Grand Illusion, the conflicts between the characters are unrelated to the war. It is only one of the dominoes that instigates the many things they do, mainly because they, calm and collected, take refuge in their culture, which remains impervious to the effects all the other ones seem to try to impose upon them through each of these seven one-hour episodes. We watch Guy's lofty devotion to make a difference and boost morale from within. Histrionics mature, decelerate or sustain between the couple and those who come and go from their lives, and we start to care about most of them. With this apposing of following the Pringles subjectively and impartially observing their affiliates, we see how fearful daily life could be with the consistent foreboding of war, but how it isn't. We contemplate Guy with his wife as he preoccupies himself with good intentions towards so many, yet at her exasperated cost, and we want to rattle him out of his cerebrum for a breather in her heart.
In seven hours, the story goes through no significant mood swings, nor any real climax, even in the final episode. But that's just how all of its characters feel about it. Life just goes on, and on and on. Characters latch on, decisions are made, people come and go. My favorite part is when Pinkrose finally gets to give his lecture on Lord Byron.
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