As one of the most iconic, intimidating figures in world history, Winston Churchill has been depicted in film many times. Played by actors ranging from Richard Burton to Albert Finney; from Christian Slater to Michael Gambon – the former British Prime Minister is as recognizable in fictionalizations as he is in real, historical footage. Though interest in his story has never really waned, there has been a notable surge in Churchill-based projects recently, with two heading for theatres this year. One is the more high profile Darkest Hours, starring Gary Oldman, and the other is Churchill, starring Brian Cox, which has had a new trailer released this week.
By the time of his passing in 1965, Sir Winston Churchill had been a prominent and influential British politician for half a century. The former British Army Officer served his government in trade, home affairs, and defence – as well as having held the office of Chancellor Of The Exchequer, during which time he was a particularly divisive figure. But, it was the resignation of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in 1940 that led to Churchill’s most legendary moments, as he stepped into the position of British leader, and faced down the European advance of Adolf Hitler. Having been one of the earliest voices of concern regarding the rise of Nazi Germany through the 1930s, Churchill went on to lead the United Kingdom through the most brutal and devastating years of World War II – rallying a nation under siege to stand firm against the threat of tyranny.
That is the most well-known tale behind the visage of a man that continues to be a heroic historical figure, and a symbol of British stoicism and determination. But, it’s the passion and despair that simmered behind closed doors which provides endless scope for dramatic storytelling – unfolding before a backdrop of global horrors. It’s one of the most significant of these moments upon which Churchill focuses – specifically the immediate build-up to the D-Day landings, that became a turning point in World War II.
“Tensions mount for the beleaguered British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Brian Cox) in the days leading up to infamous Allied D-Day landings in Normandy, France in June, 1944. Fearful of repeating his deadly mistakes from World War I in the Battle of Gallipoli, exhausted by years of war, plagued by depression and obsessed with his historical destiny, Churchill is reluctant to embark on the large-scale campaign, one that the entire war effort hinges upon. Clashing with his Allied political opponents U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower (John Slattery) and British Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery (Julian Wadham), the troubled Churchill receives support and devotion from his wife, the brilliant and unflappable Clementine Churchill (Miranda Richardson). With her strength and shrewdness, “Clemmie” halts Winston’s physical, mental spiritual collapse and inspires him on to greatness.”
Our continued fascination with the events of that era is as important today as it’s ever been – so it’s no bad thing to see Churchill, Darkest Hours, and Christopher Nolan’s epic Dunkirk arriving in theatres within months of each other. The historical lessons contained within these narratives certainly bear endless repetition, but the question of which will stand out from the now crowded field of 2017’s World War II movies is beginning to be answered.
This trailer for Churchill – which is directed by Jonathan Teplitzky (The Railway Man), from a screenplay by Alex von Tunzelmann (Medici: Masters Of Florence) – suggests a film that’s in danger of collapsing under the weight of its own reverence for this leader (which is familiar territory), as opposed to digging deeply into the psyche of a man tasked with saving a nation, and a way of life (an angle rarely attempted).
This is simply marketing, though, and the finished work that unspools on the big screen on June 2nd may very well exceed expectations. However Churchill fares with audiences, we’re about to be awash with very different views of this vital chapter of world history – and that’s to the benefit of us all.
Source: The Playlist