Posted by: Dr Churchill | December 22, 2017

Churchill on Churchill

I went and saw the Darkest Hour again, now for the third time, and even if my efforts were not connected with the production and the bringing to Life of that story — I’d still be immensely proud.

Immensely proud of whatever contribution we made to assist the Producer’s team to bring it forth, and in seeing Mr Gary Oldman inform his performance with personal tidbits, personality scraps, and character nuances, of the real Winston Churchill — the leading Statesman of the Free World. Its a rich film in both substance and depth; and you have to watch it carefully and follow the dialogue closely, in order to not miss the feints, the carefully spoken nuances, and the false turn-ons, by the great Master of Diplomacy and Political feint, his ripostes, and the stitching of his political opponents, through carefully orchestrated and choreographed — yet seemingly natural political moves.

And because politics is very much like the art of fencing, since its full of the blade-work that Winston used to fend off all the attacks against him — often parrying, feinting, and sliding to a ripostes — and all his moves used rather dexterously if not adroitly, to an Olympic medal worthy sporting Gentleman’s performance.

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And that is what I have to say about Oldman playing Winston impeccably… in Joe Wright’s drama that features a transformative turn of Gary Oldman as Churchill, and fortunately, this seriously political biographical film, doesn’t spend too much time in retelling the often told tales of Winston Churchill. Short and sweet, and yet it balances the great orator’s public triumphs with the more vulnerable private moments of self-doubt, and secret intriguing schemes against him — that have finally elevated the inner workings of the British government of that turbulent time, into a compelling piece of popular entertainment yet a high brow illustrative effort fit for the adherents of politics and the most astute operators. And when considered as history, this film offers the public new insights and seriously anecdotal details about the practice of statecraft in a time of crisis, by the Grand Master of them all: Winston Churchill. Thus where Darkest Hour is not just a symphony of World War II nostalgia, it makes for an improbably good watch, because the film makes the effort to go deeper, and thus it becomes something much more memorable as it imbues our conversations about the Politics of today, and becomes an instruction manual, for all the next generations of Leaders to come.
It is a great yarn to unwind, as it allows those of us who did not live in the time of the man’s trials, and tribulations, and who have not even experienced his greatness as Leader of the Nation and of the Free World — to experience a bit of that greatness via the medium of film, and to live vicariously right next to him.

The film begins with Winston’s speech on May 13th of 1940 when he became prime minister. Of course this speech contains the expression “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” and it ends with this really great thing he said to the governing Cabinet on May 28, 1940.

And that speech knit together from well connected AngloSaxon words, delivered with an Actor’s Shakespearian aplomb, persuaded the British government, the Parliament, and all the English speaking Peoples around the world, and at home — to stand up and fight this just and yet awful war. Because no matter the brilliance of the Man — in retrospect — back in the day there was a terrible cost that went along with choosing to stay and fight. Yet in the end, Winston and his Allies won a thunderous Victory against the forces of darkness and evil.

And to the end of his days, when he saw Western Europe becoming united against the remaining Soviet tyranny — Winston never ceased to remind us that a EUropean Union under Germany is fraught with dangers. Because as he said this is the second time that Europe is united and it s significant that each time it happens it happens under German command…

And that is the message that Winston delivers form beyond about BREXIT today and it’s value in maintaining our Free Will Liberty, our Freedom for the Nation, and our Sovereign Democracy.

Still without his guidance since his passing — the world today has unfolded to the mess that it’s visible on the nightly news each and every day right now, yet a mess that thankfully does not include the domination of Western Europe and the United States by a ruthless evil and dark totalitarian power.

I think the movie is great, and especially because it’s been attacked from the usual fake news places since some of the things in the movie are disturbing for those that have daddy issues, or are supporters of Hitlery, fearful appeasers of our enemies, or just plain ugly supporters of enforced Sodomy that capitulation to Hitler would have ensured for all Britons…

Wright surrounds Oldman with masterful supporting players: Kristin Scott Thomas, who gets only enough time to make you wish that her arch Clemmie Churchill had a movie of her own (somebody please make this movie); Lily James as a wide-eyed young secretary to the prime minister; Ben Mendelsohn’s King George VI, struggling with a speech impediment (which Mendelsohn is careful not to overplay) and with events he cannot control. But this is Oldman’s movie, and it’s a pleasure to watch him disappear into Churchill. If the movie occasionally slips into implausibility — there’s a charming scene involving Churchill on the Tube that’s perhaps too charming — it’s easy to forgive. “Darkest Hour” is history made drama; a portrait of a leader both larger than life and utterly human.

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This Masterpiece Theater kind of approach works fine because “Darkest Hour” is a handsome, old-fashioned film, filled with stirring music, dusty light and thoughtful performances — with one whopper of a star turn at its core. Oldman, who offscreen looks not a whit like Churchill, is physically transformed here: prosthetics drown his face in jowls; trousers are pulled high over a protruding belly; his walk is heavy and deliberate, leaning forward, hands clasped behind as if in counterbalance. His overstuffed cushion of a voice, complete with indistinguishable mumbles between words, intones both now-famous speeches “We shall fight on the beaches …” and more prosaic dialogue. “How do you manage all this drinking during the day?” someone asks Churchill, whose day begins with breakfast Scotch-and-soda: “Practice,” the prime minister replies.

So when we see Churchill conducting himself and the nation during the days of the end of May 1940, when there was a political crisis in Britain and certain circles of appeasers within the British cabinet and in the government, led by well known leading people like Chamberlain (Chief Appeaser) and Halifax (Chamberlain’s monkey), almost came to the point of winning in their bid to force the British government into entering Peace Terms negotiations with the Nazis. They went even further in having unauthorized and highly illegal discussions with the Italians and the Germans, and if they had not been actually and firmly stopped i their tracks by Winston — they would have been accepting the infamous “Peace Offer from Mussolini” to come to humiliating terms with Hitler and capitulate without a fight by giving up Britain’s independence as a prelude to end the Second World War, before the guns were really cocked and fired.

The peace-talking secret moves by the appeasers and the Nazi sympathizers in England, were advanced by Churchill’s colleagues. But this whole thing didn’t look good, and as soon as Winston smelled a rat, he turned the tables around on the conspirators, since he had evidence of the German High Command sending emissaries to Scotland, and to the Ex-King in order to organize the defeatist appeasers into a pro-Nazi English party and a fifth column. Soonest Winston pounced with claws outstretched, and drew his pint of blood. Having taken the measure of his opponents carefully, he attacked and bit the conspirators in the neck. He bit them deep and hard. Bite them hard and keep the pressure there, like only an English bulldog can do. And thus Winston took the fight to his enemies in the government, in the country, and placed under his control swiftly and ruthlessly. He simultaneously fought his foes at home and abroad, and in actuality he even saved them from themselves, because he stopped them, just a few seconds short before they had fully betrayed Great Britain and the western Civilization, and had thrown the whole lot to the forces of evil & darkness…

You could look at Joe Wright’s historical drama “Darkest Hour” as the flip side of Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk.” It tells of the same events, but from a different perspective: Nolan’s film focuses on the thousands of troops famously stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk during World War II; Wright’s takes place in the dim hallways of power in London, where politicians led by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, debate how to rescue them. And while “Dunkirk” swoops and dances with time, “Darkest Hour” is a straightforward, day-by-day depiction of world-changing events, told with meticulous simplicity.

Yet ostensibly many of today’s appeasers will have you told that these good folks like Chamberlain and Halifax, wanted peace terms that would have left the Aristocracy untouched, and returned the ex-King Edward VIII to power. But the reality is that this was TREASON writ large, because the Ex-King who was living in Vichy France, was the one whose hand Winston had so deftly ushered into matrimony with divorcee Wallis Simpson, just to get rid of him, and thus dismiss his Nazi sympathizers, the Mosley Nazi party of England, and all of their German spies and intriguers that surrounded that lot of traitors disguised as politicos, aristos, and government bureaucrats.

And yet this ex-King Edward VII whom Winston secretly called “the mannequin” although in public pretended to be his best friend and defender — this soiled Ex-King would return to power, if & when Hitler had his sway over Britain. Hitler and his criminal league of Stalin’s Russia, that then would be in control of all of Europe, East and West, and of all the World with Japan lording it over the Pacific. And if Halifax and Chamberlain had their way — Great Britain would be leaving America to fend for itself underarmed and unprepared to flounder between the two great totalitarian tyrants of Europe, and the Japanese hungry tiger of Asia, lording it over them, with the Mediterranean fascists negotiating and scheming to usher a new era of a thousand year long Age of Darkness, all over the Globe.

We really dodged a bullet there folks.

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And somehow, We dodged this bullet through the amazing grace of the Lord, who through his appointment of the only Leader with big balls — big enough to resist all the bollocks coming his way, from many directions, and from many quarters, from friends and foes, alike.

And the Good Lord chose a knife fighter to lead. A skilled swordsman. Because that was Winston Churchill, the warrior. He knew when to un-sheath his blade and how to use it. He knew well enough how to show his steel, and how to drive that still hilt deep into his opponent’s ribcage aiming for the heart.

And he was right because Winston not only resisted any thought of peace parlays, and appeasement of the enemy – but he charged headlong in the most stirring way you can imagine.

And the film culminates with the way he fought to win the battle at home against the appeasing traitors and across the channel against the vast enemies of the Nazi armies darkening EUrope’s soil & skies above and enslaving all of it’s Peoples all over again…

Yet the British appeasers after the failed Munich agreement, had tried a fifth column action in retrospect understood as just a feint, to cover their betrayal — and they claimed that they just didn’t know what was the house painter of Vienna Adolph fvckin Hitler up to, when he was exterminating the Jews, the refuseniks, and the undesirables.

So there it is.

That historical defeatist defense has finally been shot down.

Yet there is a curious scene, where Chamberlain was muttering to Lord Halifax about the English language being marshaled, mobilized, and sent into battle that was actually spoken by John Kennedy, when he gave Winston Churchill his honorary citizenship of the United States, many years after the Second World War.

But in Winston’s time — he was rather fragile in the beginning as his government had not been proven nor it’s worth measured, nor it’s pulse taken — and if either one of these two leading Appeasement leaders had resigned, then it’s likely that the government would have been toppled and Winston would have fallen. And that means that Churchill had to keep these domestic enemies close to himself, and in the Cabinet, if only to control them better.

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And yet, even inside his cabinet, they were scheming, threatening, and intriguing against Winston — always claiming that the English people need to have this humiliating and capitulating peace. Think of today’s deep state in the United States conspiring against the US President Donald Trump and trying to unseat his policies with a Mickey mouse investigation, triggered by the fake news of the Russian dossier, that brought on the fake Russia collusion story…

And so, Winston as Prime Minister early on — didn’t have the power to order anybody to stay in his cabinet or go away from the governing coalition. It seemed at the time that he needed all of them. more than they needed him. Yet that is far from the truth. As far as Winston cared, they could all quit if they wanted to. And so what he did was coax them out of their plans, by a sleight of hand, and by taking the whole of Parliament with him; thus isolating the appeasers. And he delivered this severe message in a homily of a speech that resulted in the biggest ruckus of applause the Houses of Parliment have ever seen. And in the House of Commons this thunderous applause was what both Chamberlain and Halifax heard loud and clear and put paid to their carefully laid plans to sell the country down the river. And this applause was heard outside of parliament too carried across the airwaves by the BBC, to all other English homes, and to the leading appeasers across the country who all heard it too. And because Churchill gave this really great speech, the War Cabinet resumed it’s meetings and Halifax admitted to Chamberlain no less, that “Well, I think we would be on a slippery slope, if we started talking to the enemy now.”

Of course the destruction of many, many millions of people, is something that Winston knew. Yet his opponents in government, may have known, or not known of the killing machine that was under way, and being built by the Nazis — but they knew full well of the killings and the persecutions and the pogroms of the Jews and the minorities, of the Gays and the Invalids, of the conscientious objectors and the religious lot of honest simple people. Because as the British expeditionary force retreated across the continent in the face of the Panzers, and ended up surrounded in Dunkirk — enough intelligence had been collected about Hitler’s death troops mopping up and killing the “People” that was filtered back to London so Halifax “the monkey” and Chamberlain his “Organ Grinder” chief of the Conservative party — knew all to well, with what kind of animal they were dealing with, and should have never encouraged “Peace parlays” to augment it’s appetite for more foraging of people and it’s bloody thirst for red human blood.

Now, I have been into the war rooms, and I have been inside of Number 10, so I do get a sense of the space, and it’s really kind of amazing how they use the space and how Oldman fills it, and manages to project that this vast war raging across all the continents and all over the seas, and the sky above, is actually being driven by the decisions of a half dozen men, in the War Cabinet, in one dimly lit and fairly dingy room.

It’s a remarkable film that has grown on me since the first time that I saw it, and especially now that it has been edited far better than the first draft…

And I will tell you that we’ve been there many times. I’ve been there many times, today, because if you go to the West Wing at the White House, the part that is attached to the White House — the offices are not very big. The old executive office building next door is a big old building, and there’s a couple of others around, but the executive branch is not big, because the White House is a confined little space. Same as the Prime Minister’s residence 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet War Rooms that are directly across the street from 10 Downing Street, and the war rooms in the basement — are not big places either. And that means that when you walk down the hall, you have to turn sideways if somebody else is coming. So it’s kind of like being on a ship or something out of the Victorian era, because it is a cramped space. And all of it is like that awfully crammed together, so they were all operating cheek by jowl, close-up together. And they were arguing all the while as argumentative democracy says we ought to do…

And then the other thing that the film captures a lot of, is the sense that Churchill became prime minister, because he was chosen by the King and asked to form a government on the 10th of May, 1940. And that’s the day that Adolf Hitler began his full attacks westwards, because he could not stomach Winston Churchill as the leader of Great Britain destroying his sinister plans to bring about a quick capitulation of the British people through the good offices of the Appeasers and the deposed Ex-King Edward VIII, and his consort the “easily bought” Wallis Simpson and their entourage of English Nazis, collaborators, Quislings, and sympathizers. Unfortunately, Edward VIII that after the abdication and his exile, became the Duke of Windsor, was a real Nazi. He was not a very good man. And Churchill threatened to have him arrested during the Second World War because he wrote his brother — now King George VI — that he was going to return to England to give some speeches… This he wrote in the middle of the war.  And Churchill wrote him a letter back telling him that he will really throw him in jail if he carried on that particular threat. And Churchill’s letter doesn’t once words: “My Dear Windsor, I write to remind you that you are a field marshal in the British Army, that you have been appointed to a government post as governor general of the Bahamas, and that you have failed to report. You are subject to all the Rules of Courts-Martial.”

Serious fighting had erupted with the British armies in the western front of Alsace Lorraine, in Belgium and in the Maginot line of France, where the Expeditionary Force had engaged the Germans, up until that time. Of course the European Nazi conquest had already succeeded since it had started early in the previous September, and had almost been completed, since now already was the month May of the next year when Winston came to power — and he were facing a cataclysm of all sorts of destructive forces convening their might against the “little” island of England, none greater than the risk of losing all of her professional army in the rout of the battle, and now stranded in Dunkirk.

And it s significant to note that this terribly violent war gets unleashed and starts really intensifying just when Churchill becomes the prime minister and the leader of the Free World in his first days in office, because Hitler hates Churchill so much that he actually fears Winston’s strong hand coming to smack him down.

And then May 10th, rolls around when Hitler unleashed his full terror machine, and by the middle of June — all of Belgium, Holland, the Benelux countries, and France were completely beaten, defeated, and occupied.

On the 22nd of June, France surrenders and the French general Petain takes the Premiership of France as Dictator “approved” by Hitler, and stars fully collaborating with Hitler and the Axis powers, by turning over his armies, and by giving up his munitions stockpiles, the factories, the armories, and turning the French naval assets, over to the Axis powers of Germany and Italy.

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And for Winston, that means that every day from May 10th till the middle of June, the news from the front were horrific. And so whatever conversation the Cabinet Ministers had in the morning, they got into a pattern that they knew in the afternoon, they were going to talk again, and things were going to be worse. And that’s very hard work. And yet, that’s the work they were doing.

What I would like to expand on, is that there’s another movie out about the same time period called Dunkirk, and so to a certain extent, the arrival of Dunkirk in the movie screens, first — makes this Churchill’s “Darkest Hour” film easier, because Dunkirk already captured the ebullient and massively optimistic fighting nature of the response of the British people who sailed across the sea to Dunkirk, in the thousands of small vessels, fishing boats, and pleasure crafts, vying with each other, in order to bring the boys back home. And that’s how the entire Expeditionary force made it back home. ON the decks of the people’s boats.

And this is what both movies underscore: The resolve that British people exhibited that in turn helped Churchill put faith into them, to do everything that they needed to do. And this process, was accurately and fulsomely conveyed in the Darkest Hour, through Churchill’s direct involvement in the Dunkirk operation, where he signaled the operation “Dynamo” to begin the Dunkirk evacuation and to bring the boys back home.

The Dunkirk evacuation was over, by the end of the first week of June, and the political intrigues threatening to unseat Winston Churchill were over by the end of the last week of May, when this political crisis in London took place, but conflating the two events in one movie makes for great drama. Churchill as a matter of fact didn’t know quite as much about the success of the evacuation of Dunkirk, as he appears to know in the film, but he seems to have a no doubts about it. Yet, until, June the 7th, it’s still doubtful whether any soldiers are coming back from Dunkirk and still Winston had declared fully that they will fight on…

And by May the 28th, there was a huge worry about that. And people probably know that the British Army didn’t get back with its heavy equipment. A modern army doesn’t fight with pitchforks, but it fights with stuff that’s really heavy, mechanical, important, and explosive. And so they had to leave most of that stuff behind on the beaches of Dunkirk.

And as they come back and their stories are heard in Britain, since they did get most of their army back — the nation rejoices and strengthens it’s resolve to fight on. And so they are a small army and far worse equipped than when the war started, and that’s a faulty calculation, that Edward Halifax, and Neville Chamberlain are responsible for making out of judgements and things that besmirch their characters and destroy their careers…

And because most of the German rearmament preparations happened in the 1930s, under their watch when they were playing at politics, when they should have gotten busy building weapons and preparing for the looming battle as Winston Churchill strongly had advocated — because they all knew this guy Hitler, was a killer. And so, you know, if you and I or anybody seeing this film, were in the War Cabinet on the 23rd of May, 1940, reading the news and hearing all the negative prognostications that the Military leaders and the Army Generals were saying to Churchill and the Cabinet, and you hear that Mussolini — whose Italy not yet in the war against Great Britain, but still an important ally of Hitler — is open to offering to host a peace conference, you’re going to take that seriously. You have to.

And Churchill himself gave it a thought, and the discussion about it went on for days. Because it would just be an unreasonable position to rule that out of hand the minute you hear it. Because the peace solution looked like salvation. And as, you know — that means that these discussions, were with limited information about the outcome of the Dunkirk evacuations…

It’s just like our lives…

We all have to make decisions today, and some of them will be hard. And yet, they are made even harder by the fact that we don’t know anything about tomorrow. And so none of these guys knew all about it either.

And so all of them, reached a decision. Churchill was very cautious in talking about this. He never endorsed the idea. But he did say now that’s the whole War Cabinet conceiving these ideas as a body, with the same responsibility towards History.

Now think about Churchill’s tenuous position, at this moment.

The hierarchy was that Chamberlain and Halifax stood atop, since they had governed the Conservative Party since 1922. And Churchill had been with them, a member of the Cabinet with them, in the ’20s. But Churchill and Chamberlain never really got along, and Winston disliked Halifax and his dislike was returned ten fold.

But Churchill absolutely loathed Baldwin, who was the mentor of Chamberlain, and who taught Chamberlain his tricks.

That is the guy that Chamberlain succeeded. And Baldwin was a very clever man. And one of his features was he always outmaneuvered Winston Churchill. But now it’s Winston that is the Prime Minister and the situation is difficult.

Just think how he began his premiership. “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.”

And you know, Chamberlain, was known already as an Appeaser and Churchill had kept him in the Government and the Cabinet, and that was one of the reasons people became impatient with him, since they had the sense that things were not going well on the continental front with the war, and he was not reporting that. And thus they came to mistrust him fully.

And so then you get this shocking thing. And the speech is very short and crisp. And it makes plain in the last line that life itself is at stake. And it’s the first hint in that speech on May the 13th. It’s the first hint that he might say, we’ve got to fight to the death in the streets here, even of the civilians, because he believes in freedom.

That is the situation. Dire Straits. And then Winston is sitting down with these guys and planning grand moves. And he’s the prime minister now, but they are the great power behind the scenes. And he’s got an old history with them. And so this offer comes in. And we see, Halifax as the foreign minister being terrified and grasping for straws. And that means this offer comes to Halifax. And that he’s the only one having these treasonous discussions.

Churchill doesn’t really have any power or the time to have them. He could insert himself maybe, but there isn’t any time. And so Halifax has his hands on the control of the information that comes in.

And so you’re sitting there on May the 23rd, and you’re Winston Churchill and you look around the room. And just now picture yourself there. There are four other people in the room with you and you can’t really count on any of them. And this word comes in, and you can’t know instantly what to think about it.

And so, just think of the tension of that. Think of how difficult that is, to be in that situation, when what you are seeing in your mind is German troops rolling through London, right? And that explains why Churchill was so radically bold and different than the others wanting to fight.

At the end, by the 28th of May, he gave this incredible speech. You’ll see it in the movie. So, I’ll tell you what the key phrase is. He goes to the whole big Cabinet, and the pressures in the War Cabinet are mounting. And remember, you got to be worried that Halifax or Chamberlain will resign. And if they do, the government is going to break.

And he says to the Cabinet at the end of a speech, “I’ve been thinking in these last few days whether it is part of my duty to open negotiations with that man,” meaning Hitler. Of course, he doesn’t tell them that people close to him, are pressing for it.

He says, “And I believe that if I were for a moment to consider parlay or surrender, you would rise up, every one of you, and tear me down from this place, where I sit. If this island’s story is to end at last, let it end when each one of us here lies choking in his own blood upon the ground.”

He said that in his ordinary conference room, in front of the young blood of his party and with some of the opposition party in attendance too.

And the response?

Well, he records, and others have done so too. Especially Hugh Dalton, who kept the notes of this meeting so that we would know what he said. And Hugh Dalton must be trusted, because he was a left-wing Socialist member who happened to adore Winston Churchill, and his record of the event is that the members leaped up and rushed to the front of the table where Churchill was, and mobbed him, and cheered him onwards, gently backslapping him, encircling him, and supporting him all the way to the floor of the House.

Churchill, says of the meeting: “I had never seen such a demonstration in a Cabinet meeting in all my life.” And think how old he is. He’s 65 years old. He’s been in government for decades. And so that thing happens, and then after that, was when the War Cabinet reconvenes, and Chamberlain says that maybe we shouldn’t do this because if we ever announce we’re doing this, we’ll be on a slippery slope and we won’t be able to stop.

And it stops.

He ends that.

And before long, Halifax is dispatched across the pond, to become the ambassador of the Court of St James, to the United States; so he is out of the way, safely ensconced and carefully watched in Washington DC, whereas his mentor Chamberlain becomes terribly ill with the cancer that killed him within a fortnight.

And that’s all fine, because Churchill was not a vengeful man. Churchill was never malicious in his revenge, but if you were one of those guys that you happened to be a Churchill supporter consistently for many decades that he’d been in power — and there were very few of those, by the way — then you’d be terribly upset with him. Because Churchill was extremely courteous to everybody, especially Neville Chamberlain, who did good deeds in these last days around the 28th of May, even though he was the Chief Appeaser of Britain.

Eden who was at his side in the movie, the Darkest Hour struck me as a good portrayal of Eden in the movie and a good portrayal of Neville Chamberlain in that they’re both the same guy. Either actor could have played either guy. And Churchill arrives in between them. He really is an aberration from the old Etonian of the Chamberlain – Eden variety.

In fact, Eden, Halifax, and Chamberlain, all looked like prime ministers. And if you wonder what that is — it means they looked like senators. Most senators don’t look like senators, but when you see one who does, you always know. That guy looks like a senator…

And so, those guys looked the part. And Churchill was rotund and tall enough but he was seen as a round guy. Yet, you must know, that he was very athletic and slender for most of his life, but by the time all this stuff happens, he’s well past 60 years old and a bit wide. And so he was — he was acknowledged — there’s something different about him too. None of those guys did people go around saying, that guy’s a genius. And not nearly as many people about any of them went around saying, that guy is untrustworthy. Churchill had much more of both of those thing,s than the three others combined. And he just was a sparkling man, and people resented that, and didn’t trust him.

There is a scene in the movie about the inverted V and what it might mean, and whether or not it did mean that among the lower classes. And he has given to raucous laughter at himself for having ventured off of the proven trail of communications theory. Was he given to that kind of mirth at his own actions?

He was and I just admire him very much, as I admire Gary Oldman playing him, as an actor. And one of the things about him is, if you just look at his various roles, the theme in them is he’s trying to be like whom he is playing.

Gary wanted to be like Winston Churchill, and he had to learn about how Churchill is played. Churchill was hilarious. I mean, aren’t those famous lines “If you were my husband, I would poison your coffee” and his riposte that “If you were my wife, I would drink it” were told, in front of a big crowd, and had come out instantly without any effort or thought…

The guy just sparkled with wit.

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In his face, it was humor writ large. There’s testimony of his constant levity, as to when he thought of the thing he was about to say, and he would deliver with adequate aplomb — his face would just light up.

If you knew him, you knew, that’s the signal that something unusual is coming .

Something great’s about to happen.

Incoming missive or missile — nobody knew what is coming but something’s definitely coming….

Gary Oldman captures that. Another thing is, although Churchill was 65 and tubby, he moved like a baby elephant. Fast and furiously determined and willful. Churchill, you know, moved and lived until 1965. He was a full 90 years old when he died, and to the last days, Churchill could still move.

And Churchill had good smart and fast moves because he had been a fencer. A champion fencer at Harrow, his public school.

And so, when you saw him getting about, as only he cold get about, Oldman had to play this guy who stumbles, or with the halting steps, and he’s got his chin down, and he’s talking into his chest, and he’s growling all the time… But you know, Churchill in “The Wilderness Years” a documentary from the ’70s filmed in Britain, which is the best thing about Churchill, except this movie, showed us that Winston could smile, and laugh heartily, and was never a grumpy old man going about scowling all the time, even at the height of the despairing days of the War. Indeed even in his darkest hours, he found something to cheer himself up.

And truly, that is what I want to convey here, because when you see this film, you get a chance to sit with Churchill for a bit, and to see the man as if you might have watched him, if you were a member of the British Society, or of the Government cabinet, of the Parliamentarians and the Aristocracy, all trembling and scared, as Hitler marched on all over Europe, and our boys were trapped in a sand-spit in Dunkirk, while our world was falling apart.

And yet we are not fully dead yet, because here comes this old foggey, and he turns it all around. At first, he begins by turning you around, through his words carried over the BBC radio. And then he continues by turning around the whole situation through his leadership in all military and diplomatic actions of the war.


Dr Churchill


I just loved the fact that they show him in the BBC with the red light right up to the minute of it coming on.

I loved every part about it.

Surely Winston’s Great Speech is already heading for the Oscars.

And if anyone deserves it, it’s Gary Oldman because he’s a hard worker and he’s also both a great artist and a meticulous craftsman. And so it was time consuming, because it was really hard to get out all that he wanted to do. And he spent hours and hours, because he wanted to look exactly like Churchill. He wanted to be like Churchill. He has that thing in art, that’s decisive. He doesn’t think it’s about him. He think it’s about the subject that he’s depicting.

So if you just watch him, you won’t even recognize him even though you have seen him a hundred times, since he’s been in Harry Potter, in Smiley, and in Batman and all that. Gary Oldman is everywhere. Just watch him, as he always does a good job, and plays successfully very many different kinds of people, without being a method actor, nor a rote memorizer and speaker, and thus he plays Churchill, better than anyone else has ever played Winston before. And maybe hence.

And that is really great, because he captures the quickness and the humor, as well as the determination and the fierceness of Winston Churchill.

And I’ve also seen Gary Oldman in many things, like Smiley’s People, and the Le Carre novels, but this level of transformation is amazing.

Do you know how long it took him to just make the Churchill face and apply the artist’s makeup every morning before filming?

Three hours. Three hours each and every morning.

And then after filming, it took two more hours to get his “face” off.

This makes his day start at 3:00 am in the morning when he wakes up. And the night before, he had dinner until 10:45 pm at night. So it takes significant stamina and determination to be this kind of actor, and Gary’s got a lot of it. I visited the set of the making of the film, and it was fun to watch…

Three hours, though, just to get the makeup right on the head, is a bitch…

Looking at his photograph by Jack English at The Washington Post — Oldman, who underwent a remarkable metamorphosis in order to play the iconic politician, is a front runner for Best Actor Oscar Nomination this year.

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Oldman talked about playing characters with the gift of gab. And he also said that one of the themes of the film was to show Winston Churchill as a writer, because nowadays, it is unusual for anyone high up in the food chain of Politics, to spend the time and effort to write their own speeches. He recalled that the genesis of this film project was when Anthony McCarten had this book on his shelf for many years, and he went to read it one day… And he saw that in one anthology of the greatest speeches in the English language, three of them — were written by Churchill in the space of four weeks.

Isn’t that a remarkable story?

And they’re beautifully written speeches, because with Churchill, you’ve got to absorb the fact that he wrote more than 50 books. And some of them were multivolume. And he did this while dong all those famous things we know about him in politics and life. And yet he also made sure to write all of his speeches himself. And there are thousands of pages of them. There are more than 8,000 pages of these speeches. So there’s probably One Thousand speeches in there…

And he produced all of that volume of work, while having a job, a family, and a bunch of hobbies, like painting, building, and socializing in earnest, all the while keenly investing of himself in the next generation, by mentoring younger politicians to fill up the ranks of the British political leadership and society’s maven class, such as those of his Churchill club and Social Club.

And after all that, people still think of him as a growler and a deep man, a barker. And instead, what he really was — was hilarious. He was lightning quick in his mind. He didn’t speak fast. But he could move, until he got old. At the beginning of the Second World War he wasn’t really that old, but before he was old, he was a tremendous athlete. And so Gary Oldman captures his quickness and the light in his eyes.

They asked Oldman about this, and he replied just like Churchill when answering:  “They say, well, your physical and vocal transformation, first of all, you know what you’re getting into. You have to surrender to shaving your head every morning and putting on a new face over the next three hours. This was the year of surrendering to Winston. We had four weeks of rehearsal, on top of 50 days of shooting, which is unheard of.”

That is really befitting of someone trying to do honor to the greatest man the world has ever known.

At least as of the end of last century … because we don’t know yet, what this century will spring forth.

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