Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
Cast: Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson, John Slattery, Ella Purnell, Julian Wadham, Richard Durden, James Purefoy, Danny Webb, Jonathan Aris, George Anton, Steven Cree, Angela Costello, Peter Ormond, Kevin Findlay.
There is no denying the complexity of the man, a hero to millions, a divisive, almost jarring figure for just as many, yet for Winston Churchill, despite the many wrongs, and there were many in number, it should be recognized that without his leadership, his continuing urging-on of the British people during the dark days of World War Two, the state of the country’s history could have been much different. The war was not won by the British, at least not alone, the country gave the world time, America gave its money and Russia gave its men in millions, yet arguably only one man could give the Allies its voice against the tyranny and hatred that ran through the heart of the German war-machine and the Nazi spewing of bile that Adolf Hitler spoke with bombastic deceit and revulsion.
There is always many sides to history, the unwritten and much praised, for some the admiration of Churchill is not enough, rightly or wrongly the man has conquered the mindset of history with his demeanor and his forthright attitude to the war that sank Europe and the wider world into a torrent of self-loathing hatred for humanity. It was bloody mindedness perhaps but it was steeped in a sense of leading from the front, something that many political leaders since have forgotten as they send men and women off to a war they did not ask for.
Winston Churchill still remains an enigma, a huge towering personality in which to fill the boots and the habit of smoking cigars of, his black dog, his awful strangulating, almost paralyzing bouts of depression which the film captures succinctly and with an almost devastating effect, these are the moments in which the story excels, his fear that the allied army will be slaughtered on the beaches of France was one that Brian Cox played out with almost true Shakespearean panache, a sense of timing worthy of the greatest lines from King Lear or Macbeth, a study in character of a man on the threshold of history.
If Brian Cox is absolute in this film then it falls to the rest of the cast to hold up the example and for Miranda Richardson this test is met with grace and honour as she gets to grips with being the only person, aside from the King, to whom Churchill will listen to in matters of life and death.
With both Danny Webb and Julian Wadham performing with delicate anger and brutal conscious throughout the film, Churchill is that most tantalising of prospects, a biopic of a human being at their most vulnerable, the moment where they seem at their most helpless but to whom even Shakespeare could not bring them to their most giant of times, that is for the person themselves to seize. A tremendous film, one of excellent interaction with the camera and with history!
Ian D. Hall