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The Movie “Into the Storm” Critical Essay

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Updated: Jun 11th, 2019

This paper seeks to explain the historical background, character development, and the overall value of the movie, Into the Storm. The paper begins by a short movie summary followed by the film’s character development. It then gives a detailed historical background of the film by comparing and contrasting historical accuracy if the movie. The paper concludes by giving a summary and stating whether the film is entertaining and if it can be used as a teaching tool.

The movie, Into the Storm, takes the audience through the life of Winston Churchill, a former prime minister of Britain and it runs for about 99 minutes. Winston Churchill is elected the prime minister of the country at a time when the Nazis had started to attack the lower European countries and France. Churchill refuses to engage in dialogue with Germany despite numerous persuasions from various leaders. Instead, he reaches out to the American president, Theodore Roosevelt, for a close personal friendship.

The movie depicts Churchill as a self-centered leader who is determined to win the war without much assistance from other countries. In addition, Churchill comes out as an impulsive leader whose focus is only on the war without realizing the consequences on his political career. After the war, Churchill loses in a general election.

The movie analyses Churchill’s life both as a prime minister and as a common citizen after he loses the presidency. It paints a clear picture of the events that unfolded during the Second World War with Churchill as the prime minister and the effects of the war on his political and marriage life thereafter. It expresses the Churchill’s determination towards winning the Second World War with the assistance of only a few friends.

The movie, Into the storm, is written by Hugh Whitmore, directed by Thaddeus O’Sullivan, and produced by Frank Doelger. The main characters include Brendan Gleeson playing the role of Churchill, Iain Glen who plays the role of King George, Janet McTeer playing the role of Clemmie Churchill, James D’Arcy playing the role of Jock Collville, and Len Cariou playing the role of Roosevelt.

Brendan Gleeson emerges as the protagonist in the movie. His voice together with his comic actions and firm stand on issues make him fit to play the role of Churchill who espoused such traits. At times, he uses his speech unintelligibly and when in private places, his face is full of sorrow and confusion, and Churchill equally exhibited such traits during his time.

Churchill’s strong stand comes out in Gleeson when persuaded by some leaders to accept talks with Germany and he strongly disagrees with them saying that peace can only be found through violence. In another realistic scene, Gleason (Churchill) tells Iain Glen (King George VI) that a Germany will soon invade Britain. These occurrences happened during Churchill’s time and thus the characters contribute significantly towards the development of the movie plot.

The movie, Into the Storm, shows the lives of Churchill and his wife in the period between 1940 and 1945 when Churchill was the Britain’s Prime Minister. The movie then takes the audience through the period after 1945 as Churchill is removed from office in a general election. His wife comes out as a strong woman who endures her husband’s undesirable acts. In 1940, Churchill rises to power as the Prime Minister of Britain and serves until 1945. In this period, the country is engaged in a brutal warfare under his leadership with his sole aim being to emerge victorious in the war.

Though the movie is limited to 99 minutes, it manages to cover most of Churchill’s life. With Gleeson representing the prime minister and Mc Teer representing his wife, the movie is entertaining and humorous. The two bring the real personalities to the real people, viz. Winston and his wife. At one point, Mc Teer tries to convince Gleeson that he must win the election, which is derived from the real occurrences that surrounded Winston’s bid to win an election in 1945. Even though the movie is brief and superficial, it manages to serve both the entertainment and training role.

Historically, Churchill suffered a major blow in 1945 immediately after the end of the Second World War, as the country revolted and voted him out of office after all his efforts to defend Britain against invasion (Gilbert 1991, 76). His ambitions to lead the country for another term were cut short though he later secured the seat in early 1950s. As the election results are being tallied, Clementine tries to comfort her husband in a French coastal town where both are waiting for the election results to be announced.

This scene is a true reflection of what happened as after the election, Churchill and his wife toured France as they waited for the results. The results took one month before official declaration and during this period, Churchill visited France probably to absorb the reality of losing the election. In the movie, Churchill blames his wife for almost everything including the resounding defeat during the elections, which again reflects the historical happenings surrounding Winston at the time.

Reynolds notes, “For her part, Clementine was highly strung and needed frequent rests from her husband’s emotional and practical demands” (48). The correlation in these events is strong and thus the movie’s historical reflections are very true and real.

Churchill was a great Englishman of the time and Britain believed in him as the leader that the people deserved. However, despite the peoples’ trust in him, his real character is seen in the movie as he introduced odd ideas in a bid to win the Second World War. Janet Mc Teer also comes out as the real wife to Churchill in the movie as she demonstrates her long-suffering in the hands of Gleeson in the movie. This movie is a great piece of art as it outlines all the odds and mistakes that Churchill, as a leader, did thus giving way to his fall.

The movie is thus recommended for learners as it captures the relevant history surrounding Churchill’s life story during the Second World War in only about 99 minutes, which is a convenient duration for class work. However, in some cases, for example where detailed examination is required, the movie may not be recommended as it avoids details of the Second World War and only focuses on Churchill’s life as if he were the only participant in the war.

The film does not run continuously as the director uses flashback at times to show the earlier history on the life of Churchill. This style is a bit confusing even though in this case it is used in a manner that does not divert the viewer’s attention. A good example of the style comes out clearly, as the director takes the audience through the history of Churchill before 1940. According to the movie, Churchill was the most powerful in 1940 and at this period, he was the key player in the World War II.

However, after the United States joined the war in 1941, Churchill’s role diminished. Churchill’s ideas in the war conflicted with those of Roosevelt, the then American head of state. For instance, Churchill’s tactic was to attack the Mediterranean even though this move did not seem as the best way to handle the situation and at times, the American approaches were more plausible as compared to those of Churchill.

Although Churchill is seen as a rude, impulsive, self-centered, and inconsiderate person, he was a great leader as he foresaw the danger that was brewing in Germany under the leadership of Hitler, who ordered massive firearms with the intention of expanding his territories. Churchill is one of the few leaders of the 1930s who managed to foresee the danger of the Nazi. In the movie, Churchill states categorically that Hitler is a time bomb waiting to explode anytime courtesy of his desire and greed to control Poland and other places.

Unfortunately, the United States did not heed to these calls, which deepened Churchill’s differences with Roosevelt. However, Churchill was vindicated when Hitler finally turned against Jews and massacred millions of them during the infamous Holocaust. Throughout the film, there remains a balance between Churchill’s sleepless nights and the ongoing debate on his suitability in the Buckingham palace.

On one side (debate around the Buckingham palace), the leader is described as unreliable and quick of anger, which is evidenced later in the movie as Churchill quarrels one of his servants for misplacing some bottles of paint. In the movie, Churchill comes out as strange character, when he demands an hour of uninterrupted nap every day.

As the war continued and the ground floors of the building where he was living were attacked, he ordered his workers to take him to the top floor of the building. This move was considered as the most dangerous place, but he insisted on being there by asserting that it provided a good position to see the incoming enemies before they could make attacks.

The movie portrays the legendary Winston Churchill as the real man on the ground. The characters chosen to represent various persons in the movie are charming and entertaining. However, the movie balances the two aspects of delivering the intended message as well as entertainment. The characters’ creative and innovative way of presenting events that rather happened a long time ago was a great achievement that must be acknowledged.

The movie is entertaining and at some point, Churchill is seen in the bathing basin engaging in a friendly talk with Franklin Roosevelt, who sits not far away, then coming out of the bathtub and by accident drops the towel that he has tied on his waist. At this time, Gleason defenselessly picks the towel and quickly ties it in the waist. Even though the director chose to include some seemingly inaccurate elements for purposes of entertainment, he did not alter (even though he left out some contents) the historical content of the movie in terms of presenting Churchill’s life.

However, the movie bypasses huge stretches of history that would be of great significance to the viewer if included. Some history especially that on the Atlantic Charter is overlooked and never reflected anywhere in the movie. In addition, the director left out the events that led to the general election that saw Churchill thrown out of office, which are only given a walkover approach. Lack of incorporation of these important historical events renders the movie incomplete and vague to some extent.

The movie also fails to focus on the long history surrounding the Second World War. Instead, it focuses heavily on Churchill’s life and disregards other participants of the war. Therefore, it is incomplete since it leaves out crucial details concerning the war, which if included would make it more reliable for use in class. The choice of words is yet another concern. Churchill used strong words whenever he was angry (Catherwood 2009, 92), which is not reflected in the movie as Gleason has less command on the same.

In addition, some words used in the movie are age-sensitive and not suitable for the young generation. Lack of a woven theme is another shortfall the movie experiences. The film is made up of short episodes that are not well interconnected. Although it has a perfect message, the flow of the message is below average.

The movie is set against a background of the former British Prime Minister and his role during the Second World War. However, the movie leaves much history uncovered as it only runs for about 99 minutes, which is not adequate to cover all the events that characterized the period between 1940 and1945 when the Prime Minister was in charge.

The movie is thus too shallow; however, Gleeson and Janet McTeer’s personalities in the movie compel the viewer to overlook the shortcomings of the movie as the two perform their roles innovatively and professionally. Overall, despite its shortcomings, the movie highlights important historical events, and thus I can use it in conjunction with other movies as teaching tools in my class.

Reference List

Catherwood, Christopher. 2009. Winston Churchill: The Flawed Genius of World War II. New York: Penguin.

Gilbert, Martin. 1991. Churchill: A life. New York: Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

Reynolds, David. 2005. “In command of History.” The New York Times, November 13.

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