Saturday, 22 July 2017

Churchill Film Review

I saw Dunkirk yesterday and I had seen Churchill when it came out, but wanted to write the reviews together. Directed by Jonathan Teplitzky and starring Brian Cox as Britain's greatest person, you can smell the cigar in his portrayal, and Miranda Richardson as wife Clementine. Brian is one of my favourite actors and Miranda has captivated me since her star making turn as Ruth Ellis in 1985's Dance With A Stranger.


While Dunkirk was a terrific ensemble piece, Churchill is an intimate portrait of the great leader. And in June 1944 he is at odds with the impressive John Slatterly's Dwight Eisenhower. Who along with the military leaders of our Army, Navy and Airforce, have come up with the D-Day plan that will start the push back of German troops and liberate France. Dashing James Purefoy as King George VI attends the meeting before dashing off to launch a ship, as you do. But Churchill's mind remembers the slaughter of the First World War when he sent the youth of the country to die, in particular at Gallipoli which we all know was a disaster. And he insists there must be a counter attack pushing up through Italy to draw Hitler's eye away from the Normandy beaches. And giving our boys the best chance of success.

Returning to London he directs his staff to begin these alternate plans.  But Eisenhower and Julian Wadham's Montgomery are determined that this is the only plan. And it rests on the weather for it's success. Churchill prays for bad weather to save the men from the terrible slaughter he foresees.

And while he is obstinately trying to advance his plans, Miranda's Clementine knows that he wants to feel wanted and part of the real plans. Like a child he rages, with her nursemaid style admonishing him for his bad behaviour. Particularly towards his new secretary Helen played by Ella Purnell. I got the feeling that Churchill was this incredible leader who couldn't quite do his shoe laces up so had zips instead.

And as D-Day is given the go-ahead Churchill slips into his dark dog depression, and amazingly decides he and King George VI will lead the men. In a very tender scene George describes to Winston why this cannot happen. Churchill is eventually pulled out of the depression by Helen's outburst regarding her fiancee who is going on the operation. Winston is kindly towards her and able to write his D-Day speech. And when he finally visits Montgomery's troops, rather than being the bombastic leader against the whole plan, he listens to what Montgomery tells his troops and is in awe of their power. His own speech will never be forgotten and of course we know that D-Day was a success, and did liberate France and the allies won the war.

An interesting and intimate portrayal of a man terrified of the past's failures but strong enough to rouse a nation to victory.


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