Gathering Storm (2002)  TV



Director:  Richard Loncraine.

Starring:  Albert Finney (Winston Churchill), Vanessa Redgrave (Clemmie Churchill), Jim Broadbent (Desmond Morton), Linus Roache (Ralph Wigram), Lena Headey (Ava Wigram), Derek Jacobi (Stanley Baldwin), Ronnie Barker (David Inches), Tom Wilkinson (Sir Robert Vansittart), Celia Imrie (Violet Pearman), Hugh Bonneville (Ivo Pettifer), Gottfried John (Friedrich von Schroder), Anthony Brophy (Brendan Bracken), Edward Hardwicke (Mr. Wood), Tom Hiddleston (Randolph Churchill), Tim Bentinck (Marlborough at the Battle of Blenheim).

Winston Churchill warns against the rising power of fascist Germany



Very good movie. 

1934.  Chartwell, Winston Churchill's beloved mansion.  All is not well in the Churchill household.  Miss Sarah, his daughter, wants to go on the stage (of which Winston disapproves).  Randolph, his 23 year old son, is having bad luck with his attempts to enter political life, is a heavy drinker and Winston has to pay all his debts. Dianna, another daughter, is contemplating divorcing her husband.  And his wife, Clemmie, is not a happy camper.  She complains of Winston that he is depressed (his "black dog"), bad-tempered, drinks too much and is home all the time and getting in everybody's way.  She feels somewhat neglected by Winston and perhaps taken for granted.  She decides to take a four month expedition with the zoo director and others (including a very handsome art dealer) to capture a Komodo dragon.  

And Winston himself?  He admits that the black dog is barking and the he has to paint to help chase the blues away.  He is upset about the political news: partly about the growing independence movement in India, but foremost the rising power of fascist Germany.  And perhaps the most important contributor to his depression is that he is out of power.  He was home secretary at 35, first lord of the admiralty at 37 and chancellor of the exchequer at 50.  But now, after many of his age have already retired, he finds himself, in his view, in the frustrating position of having no power. 

Winston believes that England is lost in a pacifist dream and that it is bloody well time they woke up. He speaks up as much as he can in Parliament, but he is jeered by the members, especially those of his own Tory party.  The Tory prime minister, Stanley Baldwin, sees Winston as an alarmist who needlessly creates anxiety among people which could damage British trade with Germany; not to mention, the cost of rearming Britain.  Baldwin has to resort increasingly to punitive measures to get Winston to shut up.  He tells his party members: "I want him isolated."  When that has little effect, they try to stir up political trouble for the "warmonger" with his constituency.  And finally they even try to push Churchill out of the Conservative Party.   

Churchill is secretly being provided with highly classified figures on German rearmament.  His information source is Ralph Wigram in the Foreign Office, who risks his political career to obtain the information. 

The movie is a good one because it gives the viewer a closer look into the life of Churchill with his own problems and those of his family.  You feel that you know Churchill the man a lot better. 


Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

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