“Churchill” biopic an insult to the memory of Britain’s wartime PM


Winston Churchill, arguably one of Britain’s most celebrated wartime leaders, is the focal point of the soon-to-be-released Jonathan Teplitzky directed biopic “Churchill.”

Churchill guided the country through the darkest days of the Second World War.

While it is not surprising Churchill should be the focus of a major movie production, unfortunately for Teplitzky, the film has drawn significant criticism from historians for the way in which the narrative treats the wartime prime minister.

“Churchill” revolves around the events leading up to D-Day, the Allied invasion of Europe that began on June 6, 1944.

If you are looking for this film to provide you with a historically accurate depiction of Britain’s wartime PM, forget it. The war in which Churchill is presented to moviegoers is anything but accurate. From a historians perspective, there is nothing good that can be said about the film.

The film, starring Brian Cox in the title role, has been condemned as malicious character assassination. While Churchill is clearly depicted as becoming increasingly ill-tempered as plans for the D-Day landings become a reality, the truth of the matter is the concerns the PM had over a potential invasion earlier in the war had disappeared completely by the time Operation Overlord was conceived.

Furthermore, it is exasperating to find Churchill being depicted as someone that would pray for rain so that the operation could not have gone ahead. In the scene, Churchill says “Let it pour tomorrow. Let the heavens open and a deluge burst forth such as has never been seen in the Channel.”

If you have read anything about the British wartime PM, you would know such a thing is not possible. It is not something Churchill would have done.

If the treatment the film showed Churchill was not bad enough, the way in which Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery is deplorable in the extreme. There is a moment in the production where Montgomery, typically referenced as “Monty,” calls the PM a “bastard” to his face. Further, the field marshal goes as far as to accuse Churchill of “doubt, dithering and treachery.” Churchill disapprovingly of his leading general says, “Puffed-up little s**t; the men won’t follow him.”

Even though Monty is well known, historically speaking, for not being the most tactful of Churchill’s generals, there is nothing to suggest the field marshal would have been as disrespectful as he is depicted in the film. As a popular military leader with the ordinary soldiers under his command, vanity and egotism dominated Monty’s personality. This fact would not have soured the PM towards Monty.

This film, being bad on so many levels, is not a production I would recommend.