Monday, March 08, 2010

The Gathering Storm


Because he loves me, that's why!

On Valentine's Day my front doorbell rang and there stood my little three and a half year old son, holding a box. He said, "Happy Valentine's Day, Mommy!" and then hastily helped me unwrapped that which he had just wrapped. We opened it together and then I beheld the beauty of the gift - my very own copy of The Gathering Storm (along with a copy of Into the Storm too, mind you!) We were finally able to watch it just the other night and I had to rave about it to you. (Raving in a good way, that is!)

The Gathering Storm was an AWESOME movie! Absolutely awesome! Produced by HBO films, I should tell you that it has one nude scene featuring the round and pink Winston Churchill himself. While I certainly am no proponent of nude scenes in movies, I'm half tempted to dismiss this one because Churchill was known for leading the country (or attempting to) in the nude. I think I mentioned following reading Franklin & Winston that Winston had this particular habit.

Franklin once came in the room during one such dictation and hastily backed out of the room, apologizing. Winston guffawed. Oh Franklin, he said, "I have nothing to hide from you!"
So in this particular instance, I didn't feel like Hollywood took any crazy liberties in portraying Churchill but as Franklin no doubt could have died a happy man without seeing Churchill exposed, I can too. (The moment in screen is brief though so just look a way for a second and you'll be alright.)

In The Gathering Storm we meet a frustrated Winston Churchill who was doing his utmost to convince the English that Germany was a threat against society in general and against England in particular. We find him mid-1930's, alarmed at secret intelligence that he is receiving about Hitler and a rumored German air force. Reviews and critics of the movie have said, generally, that this movie is an excellent character study on Winston Churchill more so than it is a detailed history lesson. Whatever your reason for watching it, I found it satisfactory. Albert Finney (aka Daddy Warbucks of Annie fame!) portrays Churchill brilliantly. He brought this great hero of World War II to life and I fell into admiration all over again.

Churchill was frustrated and frequently depressed as he railed against the Germans almost entirely alone. But he was right! He recognized a valid threat and he wasn't afraid to talk about it (or rave about it.) He had keen insight and the ability to discern danger to his country and he had the courage to stand up and keep talking - even though his own party members would have appreciated his silence. While people worked behind the scenes to remove him from politics, truth was winning out. And what a tremendously horrible truth it was too! But Winston never backed down and never surrendered and, as a result, England (and the world) faced Nazi Germany and defeated it.

I've said it before and I'll say it a million times over - I so admire Winston Churchill. Jonathan pointed out that his personality left something to be desired. He probably would have been difficult to be around for a long period of time in person. Truthfully, if Winston were about half a dozen other men, I would probably find him obnoxious and annoying outright. However, having read a (very) little about him and having watched this movie I can see that I still very much would have liked and enjoyed him as a friend or colleague. He was a stubborn old mule and thought very highly of himself - but he was true through and through. I really admire a man who can see when there's a problem and will face that problem, even when no one else will. That's a man. And that was Winston Churchill.

I couldn't possibly recommend this movie more highly, nor can I wait to have another "date night" evening where Jonathan and I can watch Into the Storm (2009). Furthermore, I can't wait to dive into this set of books, written by Churchill about World War II.

I was ecstatic to find a 1940's (first) edition of the six volume series at our local used book store. (There might have been some happy dancing in the book aisle but if there was, I wouldn't admit it.) Jonathan didn't bat and eye when I hauled the books home and sat them on our dining room table for him (and all the world) to admire. I love that I'm allowed to love books in this house - and love such crazy historical characters. It makes me love the characters in my own home all the more and to be able to create history with those in it! Dare I say that I expect our family history to be a profoundly beautiful one? Hopefully not too similar to what was suffered in World War II, but inspiring all the same.

I always avoid prophesying beforehand, because it is a much better policy to prophesy after the event has already taken place. - Winston Churchill

Thank you, Jonathan, for my Valentine's Gift and for also being the kind of man I can be admiring of (and for watching the movie with me!) And thanks for indulging my excitement for history in this way.


Sarah M. said...

Funny you should mention this because I just watched The Gathering Storm yesterday (it finally came into the library, no one else had it) and have Into the Storm on my queue. It was an excellently made film. Looking forward to the next installment.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Congratulations on some great gifts and such a used bookstore find!!

I'll have to look into the movies, too.

Stephanie Kay said...

I haven't seen or heard of this movie. I really don't know much about Churchill, which is shameful since I have a history degree.

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

Just added The Gathering Storm to our Netflix queue. Sounds like something we'll both enjoy. Thanks!

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