‘Atlantic Crossing’ on Masterpiece

Sundays at 8 p.m., beginning April 4, followed by an encore of “World on Fire” at 9 p.m.

A friendship forged in war is beautifully portrayed by Kyle MacLachlan as U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and Swedish star Sofia Helin as Norwegian Crown Princess Martha in “Atlantic Crossing,” based on a true story of passion and politics.

Airing during “Masterpiece’s” 50th season, “Atlantic Crossing” ranges back and forth across the North Atlantic throughout World War II, depicting momentous events in the changing fortunes of Norway, Great Britain and the United States.

Probing deeply into the rarely told story of Norway’s struggle against Nazi invasion and occupation, “Atlantic Crossing” features a supporting cast of acclaimed Norwegian actors.

“Atlantic Crossing” opens in 1939 with a goodwill visit by Olav and Martha to the United States where they befriend the president and first lady. Months later, Norway is fighting for survival as Nazi Germany invades the neutral country with the goal of seizing its strategic ports and securing access to iron ore mines for steel production.

During the assault, German troops try to capture the Norwegian royal family for use as bargaining chips, but the King and Olav manage to escape to England where they set up a government-in-exile. Meanwhile Martha and the three children make their hazardous way to America where they are taken in at the White House by President Roosevelt.

This sets the stage for an epic drama that mixes war and diplomacy, desire and jealousy. At the outset, America is officially neutral. It would be political suicide if Roosevelt defies the strong isolationist sentiment in the U.S., yet Martha urges him to find a way to help Norway in the fight against Germany. Meanwhile across the ocean, Olav grows increasingly suspicious of Martha’s close ties to the president. Is it friendship or something more?

The relationship also tries the patience of the first lady and Roosevelt’s closest advisors: Harry Hopkins and the president’s rumored paramour Missy LeHand.

For Martha, the whole experience is an education like no other, as the shy and beautiful crown princess must play the roles of public figure, confidante, statesman and single mother, while she anxiously awaits the outcome of a war that may unalterably transform her nation.

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