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Sunday, April 22 at 9 p.m. – Masterpiece Classic: Birdsong

(Rochester, NY) – Eddie Redmayne (My Week with Marilyn) and Clémence Poésy (Harry Potter) star as two lovers whose fiery affair precedes the firestorm of World War I, on Birdsong, adapted by screenwriter Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady, Shame) from Sebastian Faulks’ impassioned novel. Like Downton Abbey, also seen on Masterpiece, Birdsong focuses on romance amid the trauma of Britain’s national tragedy of the 20th century: the Great War. Published in 1993, Birdsong has become modern England’s touchstone to this epochal event. Masterpiece Classic's Birdsong airs in two parts Sundays, April 22 and 29 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11).

Birdsong opens on the Western Front in 1916, with British Lieutenant Stephen Wraysford (Redmayne) escaping in his memory to a sunny French estate that he visited in 1910 as the guest of textile factory owner René Azaire (Lafitte). The estate is not far from where Stephen is now stationed in a warren of grim trenches.

Invited that summer by Azaire to learn about French manufacturing, Stephen
was soon hopelessly smitten with the businessman’s much younger wife, Isabelle(Poésy)—and she with him, though barely a word passed between them. As this flashback unfolds, the two are drawn into a torrid secret affair. Its emotional power and inevitable difficulties later haunt Stephen in the trenches, where his duties take him into one of the most horrific arenas of the war: the tunnels dug under no man’s land toward German lines so that explosives can be placed beneath the enemy. Dreamlike, Birdsong weaves together the stories of the past and present—each tempestuous in its own way and fated to intersect.

Photo Credit: Working Title Films
Pictured: Clémence Poésy and Eddie Redmayne

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