"Inspiring Historical Drama"
What You Need To Know:
The screenwriter behind CHURCHILL, who’s also a historian, admits she shortened the historical timeframe for the movie. In reality, Churchill overcame his qualms about the invasion by April, though it’s true he still thought the invasion would kill too many Allied soldiers and too many French citizens. Despite the heightened drama, which seems melodramatic in a couple places, CHURCHILL is still a powerful, well-scripted, inspiring drama about the greatest amphibious assault in history. Brian Cox delivers a superb performance as Churchill. CHURCHILL does have several strong profanities, however. So, caution is advised.
CHURCHILL is an absorbing drama about British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s misgivings about the D-Day invasion in June 1944 during World War II. Though a bit controversial and overwrought, CHURCHILL is an excellent, powerful movie, with a superb performance by Brian Cox as Churchill, where duty, courage and patriotism overcome fear and anxiety, but there are several strong profanities requiring caution.
The movie opens with Churchill wandering a beach in England, with troubled thoughts about Operation Overlord, the plan to invade Normandy, which is set for early June, 1944. He’s haunted by memories of the human carnage he witnessed during World War I.
So, just days before the invasion’s about to take place, Churchill pleads with American General Eisenhower and British Field Marshall Montgomery in a meeting to call off the invasion. The two men grow increasingly frustrated by Churchill’s attempts to stop the invasion. They take action to stop him, and Churchill begins to realize that his leadership during the war is waning. All this sends Churchill into a deep depression fueled by alcohol. It also exacerbates the strain the war has placed on his relationship to his wife, Clementine. Eventually, it becomes clear that Churchill is haunted by his support for the disastrous landings at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I, where more than 56,000 Allies lost their lives.
CHURCHILL is an absorbing, powerful, well-scripted behind-the-scenes drama about the greatest amphibious assault in history. Brian Cox delivers a superb performance as Winston Churchill, as does Miranda Richardson as Lady Clementine Churchill. Julian Wadham as Field Marshall Montgomery has a key scene where he delivers a rousing speech to some British soldiers just before they’re about to embark on the invasion. James Purefoy as King George VI gives another rousing speech when the King tells Churchill why he shouldn’t sail to Normandy during the invasion as Churchill had wanted to do. Finally, the movie’s climax, where Churchill finally decides to put an end to his deprression and do his duty for England and the soldiers going to war, is extremely heartfelt and patriotic. That scene includes an inspiring performance by Ella Purnell as Churchill’s secretary. Eventually, Churchill himself delivers a rousing, heartfelt, inspiring patriotic speech to the British nation.
The screenwriter behind CHURCHILL admits she shortened some of the events leading up to D-Day, which occurred on June 6, 1944. Thus, for example, the first meeting in the movie, where Churchill expresses his last-minute doubts about the invasion plan, is based loosely on a D-Day meeting on May 15, not the meeting four days before the invasion as this movie shows. Also, other scenes in the movie have been dramatized for effect. Even so, it’s been recorded that the night before the invasion occurred, Churchill told his wife, “Do you realize that by the time you wake up in the morning 20,000 men may have been killed?”
Happily, all the fears about the invasion were much less than imagined. Only about 4,400 men lost their lives (though many more suffered serious injuries). Also, fears that far too many French citizens would lose their lives due to the Allied bombing before the invasion turned out to be wrong as well.
That said, the movie’s depiction of Churchill’s alleged battles with clinical depression seems to be purely fictional, according to MOVIEGUIDE® research for this review. However, it’s probably true that he drank too much alcohol at times and occasionally had to force himself to cut back.
Despite the movie’s heightened drama, which seems to get too melodramatic or overwrought a couple times, MOVIEGUIDE® believes CHURCHILL is a fine period drama for mature audiences. It has a strong moral worldview with positive Christian elements and very strong, inspiring patriotic content. Churchill says, “Godspeed,” to the soldiers serving under him in two crucial moments of the movie. However, several strong profanities, mostly by the military leaders depicted in the movie, warrant caution, especially for older children, including young teenagers.