The Greatest Briton in History – Churchill (DVD Review)

Churchill takes us back to the dark days of June 1944 during the second world war as D-Day nears ever closer. Fearful of making past mistakes, Winston Churchill (Brian Cox) is reluctant to embark on the large-scale campaign that the entire war effort hinges upon.

His reluctance causes friction with his political opponents and in the end it falls upon his devoted wife’s unwavering support to prevent his physical, mental and spiritual collapse. The film has an interesting plot and overall it is great at creating tension and keeping viewers glued to their seats. However, many viewers, especially those with a vast knowledge of British history, may find the plot rather frustrating and difficult to follow.

The issue is that the events in Churchill have been changed for entertainment, and therefore much of what is portrayed in the film is not what really happened in real life. This may come unexpectedly to the audience as the film centres around a real person and real events and so may assume they’re going to be watching something that is based on true events, but this is not the case.

Winston Churchill is portrayed in a particularly negative light. His character is seen to be a weak, confused old fool who is strongly against D-Day altogether. Some viewers may even find this portrayal of Churchill offensive, as history suggests this was far from the truth. Churchill in reality did not oppose D-Day, was heavily involved in the planning of it, was no fool and is in fact considered to be one of the greatest Britons to have ever lived.

For this reason it makes Churchill very controversial to say the least. It’s fair to say this genre will mostly attract viewers with a keen interest in history, and they are likely to end up disappointed and find this somewhat false representation of Winston Churchill very frustrating to watch.

The controversial storyline in a way lets the rest of the film down as Brian Cox’s performance as the former UK leader is superb. He makes a thoroughly convincing and believable Churchill, nailing everything from the way he spoke to his general mannerisms. It feels as though he is really being brought back to life on screen through Cox’s great acting skills. Miranda Richardson puts in an equally superb performance as Churchill’s wife Clementine, and their on screen relationship is very natural.

Towards the end Churchill seems to take a sudden turn in direction and begins to portray the man in a much more positive light, to be much more like the man we’ve read about in the history books. It’s quite a sudden switch from Churchill being the bad guy to one of the greatest, leaving the audience confused. By the time this happens it all seems a little too late and ultimately makes the theme of this film inconsistent.

Churchill is good at building tension and there’s some great performances, as mentioned. For this reason it’s still entertaining, just arguably not the most incredible piece of filmmaking.

Churchill is available on DVD and Blu-ray now. 

Dir: Jonathan Teplitzky

Prd: Claudia Bluemhuber

Scr: Alex von Tunzelmann

Starring: Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson, John Slattery

Music: Lorne Balfe

Year: 2017

Country: UK