In the 1930s, Winston Churchill was out of government, sitting as a backbench MP. His was a lonely voice warning about German rearmament and the coming of a second major war on the Continent. He lost a great deal of money in the Wall Street crash and now writes - a biography of his ancestor the Duke of Marlborough, a newspaper column - and it's his only means of support. He has a close-knit group of supporter not the least of whom is his wife Clemmie, who he loves very dearly. As he continues to press his concerns about Hitler, he is cast as a warmonger and frequently shouted down in Parliament by members on both sides of the aisle. With reliable information from a Foreign Office civil servant who feels the government is not accurately reporting on rearmament, he provides accurate figures to Parliament and the tide begins to turn. With the onset of World War II in September 1939, Churchill returns to government as First Lord of Admiralty. Written by
Albert Finney's portrayal of Winston Churchill is up there with the best characterizations of all time. He could have easily slipped into caricature (that voice, that famous voice!)but he doesn't. I read somewhere that it was an extremely painful undertaking for him as he had to draw in his chin and get rid of his neck and he did it all without prosthetics which is an extraordinary accomplishment.
Churchill is portrayed warts and all, we get a very complete picture, his crankiness, his ego, his art, and most of all his relationship with Clemmie, his wife, here played, and beautifully, by Vanessa Redgrave.
That the director, Richard Loncraine, assembled such an astonishing and talented supporting cast is to his credit. Jim Broadbent, Linus Roach, Tom Wilkinson, the brilliant and capable Ronnie Barker as Inches the Butler, Hugh Bonneville et al.
The story is historically and chronologically inaccurate but is forgiven in the light of the dramatization of the life of Winston. It is four years on, as I write this, and there is yet to be a sequel and this cries for it. We get the build-up to the war (and where on earth was Neville Chamberlain) but it would be interesting to see the life of Winston behind the actual war.
Wonderful location shots, the actual Churchill house in Chartwell, Kent was used. A must see. 8 out of 10. Pity it didn't run to 3 hours.
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