I remember seeing the TV ads in 2002 for The Gathering Storm and thinking it looked compelling; however, I did not have HBO at the time. The film had been in my Netflix queue for ages until I recently moved it to the top, desiring something besides the reality garbage doled out nightly on network and cable TV. Really, why does anyone give a flip about Jon and Kate Gosselin?
I was not disappointed in this film! It’s terrific. It is a two-pronged love story. Winston Churchill (Albert Finney) had two loves, that for his country and that for his wife. He loved his country beyond patriotism, and he had truly deep affection for his wife, Clementine (Vanessa Redgrave). While Mr. Churchill was wrong about some things (e.g., India’s quest for independence), his notions about Hitler’s thirst for power and world domination were right on track. This point was made clear in the film. Thankfully for us, Churchill and key others were paying attention to Germany’s rearmament. Some even took great risks to bring the truth to light – Ralph Wigram (Linus Roache).
Churchill came to his realization about Hitler when his own career was waning. At age sixty he was no longer viewed as an astute politician and keen orator. He was plagued by depression (coined “the black dog”), and his family stood on the brink of financial ruin. Much of his money had been lost in the stock market crash. Additionally, the political establishment were reluctant to make any decisions that might lead to another Great War. It also didn’t help that there were government contracts which supplied aircraft parts to Germany. (Often we’re our own worst enemies!) Despite all of these obstacles, Churchill persevered and was finally able to convince his peers and the nation of the danger Hitler and his Nazi party posed. He was a man possessed by the idea that it was his destiny to lead his country out of chaos.
At a point of intrigue in the film, “Clemmie” leaves Winston and their brood for a trip abroad. She is accompanied by an attractive bachelor whom Winston is certain has stolen his wife’s affection. Jealousy is yet another demon to plague the man.
I can’t speak highly enough of the cast. Albert Finney and Vanessa Redgrave were magnificent. I felt like a voyeur of the Churchill’s lives. Only great acting can give you a true sense of reality. The supporting cast are all sublime actors. The director, Richard Longcraine, captured the drama of Britian’s politics, and his actors skillfully projected the frustration, fear, and courage it took to win a battle for hearts and minds. The chemistry between Finney and Redgrave was believable. Their tender moments tugged at the heart.
This is one drama you should see, especially if you appreciate this momentous period in history and the work of accomplished actors.