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Churchill - Film Review

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by Marisa Quinn-Haisu (subscribe)
My name is Marisa. I am a fiction writer, a blogger, and a freelance journalist.
Published May 27th 2017
Brian Cox is amazing as the greatest Briton of all time
Churchill 2017
Winston and his wife Clemmie

Winston Churchill is one of the most famous figures of the 20th century and is regarded by many as one of the greatest Briton's of all time. He was born in 1874 into a branch of the Spencer family which is one of Britain's oldest and most notable noble families. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a politician and his mother, Jennie Jerome, was an American socialite.

Winston was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom first from 1940 to 1945 and then from 1951 to 1955. He was an officer in the British Army, fought in the First World War, helped guide the United Kingdom through the Second World War, got London through the Blitz, he was a historian, a Noble prize winner and an esteemed writer. He served the people of the United Kingdom until he was 80 years old. He has been immortalised in film, television, radio and literature dozens of times.

Churchill 2017
Winston was a famous smoker

Churchill is one of two films coming out in 2017 about the famous Prime Minister. It stars Brian Cox as Winston, Miranda Richardson as his wife Clemmie and John Slattery is General Eisenhower. It was directed by Jonathan Teplitzky and written by historian Alex von Tunzelmann.

The film is about Churchill's opposition to the Allies plan to retake France from the Nazis using Operation Overlord. Haunted by the mistakes that he made at Gallipoli thirty years earlier, exhausted and overcome with depression, will the Prime Minister be able to starve off a mental and physical collapse in the days leading up to the famous D-Day landings? Churchill is being released to coincide with the 73rd anniversary of D-Day.

Brian Cox is amazing as Winston Churchill in this film. After playing historical villains Hermann Goering and Joseph Stalin, Churchill was a chance for Cox to have a go at playing one of the 20th century's greatest heroes. The Shakespearian actor gained 10 kilos for the role, shaved his head and put a lot of effort into getting Churchill's jutting lower lip just right.

The film was shot in Scotland and is set in 1944 a few days before the Allies launched Operation Overlord. Winston Churchill was an old man during World War Two. He had lived a long life and seen a lot of battle. One of his biggest regrets was his involvement in Gallipoli in 1915. He is haunted by his memories of the failed campaign and the thousands of young men who were killed or wounded there.

Churchill 2017
Winston reflects on past mistakes

The film opens up with Winston walking along the edge of a beach and thinking about Gallipoli. He loses his famous black bowler hat in the wind and starts chasing after it. It lands in the water and for a moment we see it being tossed back and forth in the waves.

Winston bends over the water to pick it up but then pauses with his hand outstretched and gasps. The water has turned blood red! Winston is overcome with painful memories of all the horrible things that he saw at Gallipoli. He picks up his hat and turns away from the water's edge and mutters as he staggers back toward the shore which in his mind's eye looks like a war zone.

This scene did a really good job at showing the viewer how much war Winston has seen in his life and the effect it has had on him. Here is a man who prides himself as being a man of the people. He is someone who wants to speak for the common man. He is fiercely protective of the young men he will be sending to fight the Nazis.

"The men at Gallipoli might as well have been naked," he laments later in the film. He can't get the image of all those men being cut down by machine fire out of his mind. "D-Day will be butchery," he tried to tell anyone who will listen. "The invasion of France will be a deadly gamble."

Churchill 2017
Winston famously struggled with depression

What I found interesting about Churchill was that it was a film about war that did not show a lot of war in it. It was a political drama about the people who planned Operation Overlord and not about those who made actually fought at D-Day.

Winston is both the protagonist and the antagonist. He has good reasons for wanting to make sure that Overlord goes well and is not another Gallipoli. But at the same time, he is also arrogant and dismissive of other people's opinions.

He wants to avoid another Gallipoli not just out of guilt but because he is concerned if he is responsible for another disaster on that scale that it could do serious damage to his political legacy. He is afraid that if he puts his support behind D-Day that he will be gambling with his political destiny and that is a gamble he is not sure he wants to take.

Churchill is an extremely well-written film that provides a fascinating look into the mind of Winston Churchill. If you love war films and fancy yourself a bit of a history buff, you should give this film a try. Brian Cox will mesmerise you!
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*Marisa Quinn-Haisu was invited as a guest
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Why? Churchill is a fantastic historical drama about Winston Churchill during World War Two
When: The film hits cinemas on the 8th of June
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