AN EMPIRE OF WORDS

Churchill (2017)

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Often it is said that Winston Churchill is the greatest Briton in history after successfully leading Great Britain through the tribulations of the Second World War. And it seems as though 2017 is becoming the year of films about Britain during the wars, as we’ve already been treated to Their Finest and Dunkirk coming out soon.

Jonathan Teplitzky takes on the legendary historical figure of Winston Churchill, with Brian Cox playing the extremely influential Prime Minister. Often with films that have their subject based around the war efforts, they become bogged down in the spectacle of bringing the war to the silver screen. What was enjoyable about Teplitzky’s take on this is he didn’t rely on this at all.

The only reference to the troops on the western front is at the start when Churchill takes a solemn stroll on the beach awash with the blood of the troops. Now it’s no shock that Winston Churchill was a great speaker that could rise the nation to their feet with a few choice words, and that culminated in his D-Day speech with the legendary words “we will never surrender”.

And that is where Teplitzky’s film takes place, in the lead up to the D-Day landings. And this is where Brian Cox as Winston Churchill takes centre stage and really sinks his teeth into this role. He looks the part as the grizzled Prime Minister that is at a loss during the war effort and cannot stomach that Eisenhower has taken over command of the Allied forces. He constantly chews on his cigar and wears the bulldog-chewing-a-wasp look that is just exceptional.

As I mentioned, Churchill was a powerful speaker but what I wasn’t anticipating in Churchill was the long monologues. Don’t get me wrong, Brian Cox was incredible in this role, but these monologues often lost my focus as he fought the high command on their proposed D-Day strategy.

The narrative divulged a largely unknown story and the butting of heads by Churchill and the rest of the high command for the allied forces regarding the D-Day Landings. Churchill strongly opposed this strategy, which caused riffs between him and his wife Clementine (Miranda Richardson) who was brilliant as the woman that supported the hulking man.

Churchill was a good, strong-willed film that fell down sometimes under the weight of it’s own monologues. The central performances between Brian Cox and Miranda Richardson were brilliant and bought to life this legendary character.

The narrative was enjoyable as it does explore a story that was unknown about one of most triumphant moments in the Second World War. But with the weight of the monologues that dragged through the 98-minute runtime, the film does feel a bit longer. As with the powerful monologues it has been said that maybe Churchill would have been better suited for the stage, and it’s clear to see why after Cox’s evoking performance.

Churchill was enjoyable for Brian Cox’s embracing the character of Winston Churchill and it becomes an up-lifting film that showcases the British attitude. This attitude was exemplified by Churchill’s assistant Miss Garrett (Ella Purnell) who believed in Winston to lead them through this war, but also being terrified at the thought of losing her fiancé. Churchill showcased a variety of great performances and exemplified how good Winston Churchill was as an orator, regardless of the dragging monologues. But will Churchill be the best film in the year of British war films? That I’m not so sure about, especially with another Churchill film coming soon.

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Author: Nathan Harris

Currently studying Film & Television studies and Media Writing at Derby University. Hopefully wanting to become a film critic/journalist.

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