Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965) has been portrayed several times by many good actors (e.g. Rod Taylor, Richard Burton, Bob Hoskins, Donald Pleasance, Timothy Spall and even John “Monty Python” Cleese), but anybody has come closer to the British Prime Minister personality than Albert Finney in The Gathering Storm and Brendan Gleeson in its sequel Into the Storm.
The Gathering Storm (2002) talks about the period when Churchill was out of favor and out of power in the 1930s, just before World War II. Although the evidences of a German invasion were extremely clear, most of the members of the British Parliament, under the leadership of Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, decided to turn their backs to the conflict. Only one realized the real menace that Hitler represented, only Winston Churchill.
But he was suffering a depressing moment in his life, both personal and political. On the one hand, his wife was drifting away from him because of their lack of money and his egocentrism. Moreover, Churchill felt disappointed because of the irresponsible behavior of his son Randolph Churchill. On the other hand, Churchill was completely isolated in the Parliament because of his ideas about Germany and the war.
In 1939 Germany invaded Poland, proving that Churchill was right all the time.
That same year war was declared on Germany and Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty.
The Gathering Storm is based on the first part of Churchill’s memories written by himself and puts more emphasis on the personal aspect of his life.
Into the Storm (2009) is the sequel of The Gathering Storm and covers several years of Churchill’s government as Prime Minister, from the last years of the war to the period after the war, when he was driven from power. The film starts in 1945 at the end of World War II. While having a rest in Hendaya (France), Churchill’s mind goes back to the moment when he was appointed Prime Minister.
The invasion of Belgium, Holland and Luxemburg in 1940 revealed the weakness of PM Neville Chamberlain’s peaceful politics, and he was forced to resign. It’s at this moment when Winston Churchill is elected as the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The film also depicts many of the situations in which Winston Churchill was involved during the war:
- The isolation of the British Army after the surprising surrender of France, and the later “Dunkirk evacuation”, in which more than 300,000 British, French and Belgian soldiers from the North of France.
- Submarine war in the Atlantic that isolated Great Britain.
- Meetings of the “Big Three” (Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin).
In both films, Winston Churchill is represented as a firm defender of Britain who inspired his
people through several speeches (such as “We shall fight on the beaches…”) and always refused any kind of pact with Hitler.
A few minutes from the end of The Gathering Storm (2002)
Trailer of Into the Storm (2009)