Churchill… Winston Churchill… like Solo… Han Solo… and Bond… James Bond…
Okay, let’s be serious for a moment.
Churchill probably sounded like a great idea on paper. Wartime movies are sprinkling their way through the cinema schedules of late, so inbetween Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and Gary Oldman’s Oscar/BAFTA-contender The Darkest Hour, someone thought: Brian Cox is around the same age that Churchill was in 1944, so let’s get Brian Cox to chew the scenery like Churchill chewed cigars.
Taking Operation Overlord as it’s cue, the Prime Minister is trying to change the plan away from the D-Day landings, as he fears it won’t go to plan, and we know how that all played out. However, he’s a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, and tries to use tactics from WWI, 30 years earlier, when the world and techniques have moved on a bit.
He’s portrayed as a doddery old fool. I don’t know if that’s how things actually took place, but while the man is more usually thought of as the best thing since sliced bread, and the best UK politician of all time, they can’t all be perfect, as I can’t name many, today, who I’d trust to wipe their own noses. I mean, just look at Chris Grayling on last night’s Question Time. You wouldn’t trust him to make a sandwich, let alone make government policy!
But in this world, everyone’s painted as if they still thought politicians knew what they were talking about, and weren’t berks in any way, shape or form.
On the plus side, Churchill – as a film – looks good, and it’s a watchable 98 minutes, as he basically realises he can’t just shout at everyone and expect to be listened to.
However, it never feels like essential viewing and there’s a fair bit of dialogue which makes sound like it’s heading for a Shakespearean production, rather than natural dialogue, e.g.
- Field Marshal Alan Brooke: “If the war ends this year, they say he could be a liability as a leader… he’s not the man he was.”
Jan Smuts: “When you reach calm waters, it’s easy to forget the captain who steered you through the storm.”
You feel like someone’s about to throw flowers onto the stage(!)
Also, the film is completely action-free, so when the D-Day landings actually happen… they’re told off-screen. Okay, so it only had a $10m budget, which has clearly gone on set design and, for that money, it’s well-spent.
Churchill will make great Sunday afternoon telly in a couple of years on BBC2, but as an essential Blu-ray or DVD purchase? I can’t sanction that. However, Cox does come out with one great line: “Weakness doesn’t impress Americans. They respect strength, decisiveness”. Tell that to Theresa May!
The film is presented in the original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 and in 1080p high definition, and there’s no issues with the print whatsoever. It looks stunning as you’d expect for a modern movie, bringing the period look to the screen with ease, and I’m watching on a Panasonic 50″ Plasma TV, connected to a PS4.
The audio is in DTS HD MA 5.1. It’s fine, but it’s a straight drama so the speakers are rarely troubled.
In addition to an audio descriptive track, there’s only one main extra, a Making Of (22:38), which mixes on-set footage with plenty of chat from the cast and crew. It’s fairly bog-standard stuff, with everyone blowing cigar smoke up each other’s bottoms.
The main menu mixes subtle animation with a piece of the score, subtitles are in English only, and just a bog-standard 12 chapters, while I always work on the rule of thumb of one every five minutes.
Running time: 98 minutes
Released: October 16th 2017
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Languages/Audio: DTS HD MA 5.1
Subtitles, English SDH
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Jonathan Teplitzky
Producers: Claudia Bluemhuber, Nick Taussig, Piers Tempest and Paul Van Carter
Screenplay: Alex von Tunzelmann
Music: Lorne Balfe
Winston Churchill: Brian Cox
Clemmie Churchill: Miranda Richardson
Dwight Eisenhower: John Slattery
General Montgomery: Julian Wadham
Jan Smuts: Richard Durden
Helen Garrett: Ella Purnell
Field Marshal Alan Brooke: Danny Webb
Leigh Mallory: Jonathan Aris
Admiral Ramsay: George Anton
Captain Stagg: Steven Cree
King George VI: James Purefoy
Briggs: Peter Ormond
Kay Summersby: Angela Costello
Fanshawe: Kevin Findlay
Adjutant Howard: Miro Teplitzky
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.