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Churchill's Forgotten Years (2005)

If you've saved your country what do you do for an encore? That was the question facing Winston Churchill in 1945. This film provides a distinctive new take on what drove this immense, ... See full summary »

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If you've saved your country what do you do for an encore? That was the question facing Winston Churchill in 1945. This film provides a distinctive new take on what drove this immense, difficult personality as he continued striving for power and reputation right into his eighties... Presented by leading Churchill expert, Professor David Reynolds of Cambridge University, the film combines in-depth analysis from David in evocative locations in the USA, Europe and Britain, powerful insights in interviews from surviving family, staff and political colleagues and revealing new archive footage which gets us closer to the real man behind the national icon we think we know. The aim is not to debunk Churchill but to show the hero as the rich three-dimensional character he really was - with superhuman energies and very human frailties. To understand the character of the man people have voted the 'Greatest Briton', we need to examine his last twenty years... Churchill refused to wither ... Written by Blakeway Productions

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2005 (UK)  »

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26 March 2016 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

The first image we see is of Churchill seated behind a desk, addressing the camera. He's older and plumper than in his "Angry Lion" portrait by Yousef Karsh. His eyelids are a little puffy but his voice is still powerful and his smile just as disarming. "If I may have your attention for a moment -- and it can only BE a moment, because as you realize, we are all -- rationed." Winston Churchill was elected Prime Minister of England shortly after England declared war on Germany in 1939. The following months saw Britain on the brink of defeat, only to emerge from the mess in 1945 victorious. Early that year he was voted out of office.

Why was he more or less kicked out after such an achievement? He was a rabid conservative and nationalist, just the man for wartime. But he was suspicious of the Labor Party and anything that smacked of collective power or communism. He'd always been suspicious of Josef Stalin, the Soviet Union's dictator, and he was suspicious of socialists in his own country, even making a public speech predicting the a socialist government would organize a kind of Gestapo to stifle free expression in Britain. He earned boos from a public that was turning its attention from the terrible tribulations of war to the difficult problems of managing the peace. Britain was virtually broke. Labor seemed in a better position to get the country back on its feet.

Leaving 10 Downing Street for private quarters was a humiliating experience for the Churchill family. Winston took up painting and found it relaxing but -- how does the saying go? -- once you've tasted power -- He was back on the world stage within a year. At the invitation of President Harry Truman, he gave a speech at Stephens College in Missouri, in which for the first time the phrase "the Iron Curtain" was used. In England he still gave memorable and energetic speeches and insinuated himself into politics as the conservative leader of the opposition. Of the Labor party and their program of nationalization, he declaimed he would "tear their entrails out." He enjoyed lunches in the Pinafore Room of the Savoy Hotel where he could harangue his friends and followers. He was by no means disengaged from life. In the late 40s and early 50s, with the help of a team of research assistants, he ground out one volume after another of British history. He won the 1953 Nobel Prize for literature. He'd turned himself into a historian and become a powerful national figure again.

In the mid-50s he was returned to 10 Downing Street. He was seventy-eight years old. After two strokes and at the reluctant urging of his friends, he retired from public life but even then, stooped with age, ground out a four-volume history of the English-speaking peoples.

His political career had always been at the cost of his family. When they were kicked out in 1945, his wife remarked that it was a blessing in disguise. Churchill's response: "Rather too well disguised." Clementine had to spend a period in a "sanitorium", which could mean any number of things, and the narrator tells us that Churchill had drive his daughter Diana to "a complete nervous breakdown," which is think is a little presumptuous because whatever a "nervous breakdown" is, nobody really knows the cause. At any rate, Diana later took her own life.

He was very old by 1965 and like many other very old people he died. He was buried with pomp near the place he was born.


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