Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Sunday night I watched "Into the Storm," an HBO program about Winston Churchill and his wife. It's a WWII story, framed by a postwar vacation in France where they wait for election results (he lost). It was enormously fun to watch if a bit selective.

The idea was a more personal look at Winston and his wife, Clemmie, and it was gorgeous in the way of Merchant Ivory productions. Buckingham Palace! Inside the White House! Clemmie, played by the divine Janet McTeer, is written as the woman behind the savior of England. "Winston, stop behaving badly," she would say. "Respect the servants, you depend on them!" "You can't give up, you were born for this," she exhorted her moody, visionary, very aware of his great-man status, husband.

And I loved hearing the famous speeches roll forth, the beauty of his rhetoric shown rehearsed and re-written as Churchill walked around his grounds or worked at his desk. In the car coming home from an airfield, he's muttering, "Never so many... to so few..." And the accomplishment of Dunkirk I had not fully appreciated before, where every fishing vessel and pleasure yacht in England was pressed into service to evacuate the entire British army, "the wounded last," as Churchill chillingly ordered. The show made me want to revisit Churchill's memoirs.

But "Into the Storm" counts chiefly as an entertainment for those who already know the history of WWII. It's fun, for example, to see the prime minister running around in the coveralls he liked to wear. But you could be misled if you watch it to learn history: Not a mention of Lend Lease, or of FDR's problems with isolationism in the US; or of the Nazi concentration camps; or of the Battle of Midway that saved the war in the Pacific. No mention of Northern Africa! The conference at Tehran is given a long look; however I thought time wasted on long family dinner scenes could have been used to provide better perspective.

I would recommend the movie, though. My favorite scene was Winston offering his resignation to the king after the fall of Singapore. "No, Winston, keep bumbling on," the king responds. Raising their glasses, they both say, "KBO!" I think that's going to become a saying of my own.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to admit my ignorance but what does "KBO" stand for? It is a charming review of the film...sorry I missed it!

7:44 AM  
Blogger Pru said...

KBO = "Keep Bumbling On"

10:10 AM  

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