Thursday, January 28, 2010

Young Winston--a good history lesson

*Richard Attenborough*1972*146m*

As a companion peace to Gandhi, it's not half as good, but I am glad to have seen it for the enhancement of the historic perspective. The minutes flew lightly except for the parts pertaining to the military encounters and escapades, which one has seen ad nauseum.

It is based on the account of Churchill's youth, "My Youthful Years", which ends with his daring escape from captivity, and the commencement of his political career after his election to parliament at te age of 23. His experience at school is unhappy, since he shows scarce ability of any kind. Transferred to Harrow, despite a blank answer book in the entrance examination, he once amazes everbody by reciting a thousand lines of poetry from memory. Later, after three unsuccessful attempts, he is admitted to the military academy at Sandhurst, being selected for the cavalry, the least preferred branch.

The film gives a delightful view of life of the aristocracy in Victorian England, particularly since it is mostly done on locations. We have a sample of Churchill's oratorical skills in his maiden parliamentary speech at the end of the film. The narrator who voices excerpts from the book by Churchill is particularly bad, jarring on the ears and heavy and grating like an earth moving machine. Simon Ward as the hero is just adequate.

The military encounter between the British and the Sudan is a very clear example of a highly disciplined force with modern weapons is able to crush the technically and organisationally weaker force. Military studies sadly have evolved into a science over the millenia.

A film worth seeing for it's broad historical insights.


Literary Dreamer said...

So perhaps Churchill's volumes on the Second World War are preferable to seeing this film? Or maybe a well-written biography? Churchill had so many ups and downs in his career, besides being such a fascinating character, that it's not wonder that one movie could not do him--or his younger self--justice.

S M Rana said...

The present movie is based on one of his very popular books ( "My Early Life: a Roving Commission" ) which concludes with his entry into politics in his early twenties, hence has nothing to do with WW2. The Nobel he won was for literature. He certainly enjoys great power of language.

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