by Tony Medley
Runtime 104 minutes
OK for children.
This long, slow,
boring, talky film directed by Jonathan Teplizky based on an original
screenplay by Alex von Tunzelmann who is identified as a “British
historian,” posits that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Brian
Cox) was in a knockdown drag out battle with Gen. Dwight Eisenhower
(John Slattery) in opposition to Eisenhower’s plan to invade Europe at
Normandy in June 1944. I can find no authority for this.
Eisenhower did have a dispute about Eisenhower’s desire to extend a
diplomatic blackout beyond the day of the invasion. Churchill adamantly
opposed this and wrote Eisenhower a frank letter stating his reasons.
Churchill also opposed a speech Eisenhower wanted to deliver to the
German people, telling him it would be, “ineffective and look like
begging before we have won the battle.” He continued by saying, “I could
also show that we are not telling the truth to these people.” He would
probably say the same things to Teplizky and von Tunzelmann about this
film were he still here.
But this film would
have its audience believe that Churchill actively fought the invasion up
to and including the morning that it occurred, claiming that he feared
another disaster like the battle of Gallipoli in World War I for which
Churchill took the blame.
The film pictures
Churchill as a drunken, mentally ill Prime Minister who was looked down
upon and mocked behind his back by all his subordinates, but who was
bolstered by his wife Clementine (Miranda Richardson).
There are lots of
scenes that are clearly sheer imagination, like one that is almost
laughable where Churchill on his knees alone in his room speechifies to
God, and many showing private conversations between him and Clementine
that are undoubtedly mere conjecture. Tunzelmann claims that she
concocted the story based mostly on the diaries of Lord Allenbrooke
(Danny Webb), who, according to Tunzelmann, “was sharply critical of his
behavior in those weeks and months beforehand, commenting on his undue
influence, his excessive drinking and his failing energy levels.” But
nowhere does she cite any authority for the idea that Churchill
vigorously and violently opposed the invasion up until the last minute
as pictured here, and I can find none.
As an aside that has
nothing to do with the film, IMDB has a huge blooper in that it
identifies the name of the character played by Webb as “Allen Brooke”
rather than Lord Allenbrooke.
Tunzelmann go to lengths to falsify the facts, even admitting that two
early morning meetings among Ike and his staff on June 4 and 5 trying to
decide whether or not the weather would allow them to invade were not
attended by Churchill, even though their film shows him in attendance.
There seems no reason to do this other than to tarnish Churchill with
something that did not occur.
The film is also
burdened by a maudlin score and an ending that seems to go on almost
forever. This is a vindictive calumny not a paean to a great man who
almost singlehandedly stood up and opposed Hitler when it looked like
all was lost. It is shameful with no raison d’être, but is typical of
the effete British bluebloods who cast Churchill into oblivion in the
1930s and still obviously hate him.