YOUNG WINSTON was a film that director Richard Attenborough said was verydifficult for him to make...his reputation as a director, in 1972, restedsolely on his only previous film, the anti-war cult classic OH! WHAT ALOVELY WAR (1969), and with YOUNG WINSTON, he was expected to tackle asubject that was directly opposite to his point of view. Winston Churchillwas the moral center of Great Britain in WWII, staunchly pro-Empire, andanything but anti-war. Yet his early life was an fascinating saga ofcontradictions, and the director felt that if he could focus on the personalodyssey Churchill experienced, against the backdrop of the dramatic eventsof the time, it would be a story worth telling. While the end result ofAttenborough's labors would not be entirely successful, YOUNG WINSTON isstill a rewarding, entertaining movie.<br><br>Told as a series of flashbacks, narrated by the older Winston Churchill(mimicked very accurately by the film's young star, Simon Ward), we jumpfrom battlefields in the Sudan to a childhood in Blenhiem Palace, at anoccasionally dizzying pace. The son of a brilliant yet self-destructive MP(played, with élan, by Robert Shaw), and his dazzling American wife (theradiant Anne Bancroft), young Churchill worships his parents, but is largelyignored by them, except when the cruelty of a boarding school would becometoo apparent. Only an average student through most of his youth, he seemsdestined to a life of mediocrity, at least in his father's eyes, and theparent's cold indifference would only become more pronounced as heexperiences the ravages of syphilis, which destroys his career, and wouldkill him. Too late to win his father's love, Winston blossoms as a student,and determines to win fame, first as a soldier/journalist, then to take uphis father's banner in Parliament.<br><br>Self-centered, opinionated, and glory-hungry, Winston attracts the animosityof Britain's war staff, yet seems to be anywhere history is being made, fromtribal rebellions, to the last cavalry charge in history (seeing Churchillsheath his sword and pull out a pistol as his weapon is a telling sign thatthe era was ending). Behind the scenes, his widowed mother, trading on herlegendary beauty and string of admirers, makes up for her earlier aloofnessby using her contacts to help her son 'get ahead'. Yet Winston feels hisprogress is too slow, and decides to go to South Africa, where the Boer Warrages.<br><br>As a journalist, Churchill is captured, but, taking advantage of the Britishprisoners' escape plans, manages to break out of prison, and elude theBoers, while all England watches. By the time he finally reaches safety, theentire world is celebrating him as a hero, and he easily wins his father'sseat in Parliament...and takes up the same unpopular issues the elderChurchill had championed, and gone down defending. As Anthony Hopkins,playing Churchill friend David Lloyd George remarks, "A young lion is loosein Parliament."<br><br>With an all-star cast (including Jack Hawkins, Patrick Magee, John Mills,Edward Woodward, and a very young Jane Seymour), the greatest credit must goto Simon Ward, the oldest of the three young actors portraying Churchillthrough his early years. Ward is astonishing, not only physically resemblingWinston, but giving the character a humanity that makes his opportunism andambition far more palpable. <br><br>Of note, as well, is Gerry Turpin's cinematography, with it's sweepingvistas of the British army in the field, and Alfred Ralston's rousing score,drawing heavily from Elgar's marches.<br><br>While the sheer scope of the story, and flashback approach, ultimatelydefeat the 'intimacy' Richard Attenborough had hoped for, YOUNG WINSTON isstill well worth watching, and helped him prepare for his next film, theeven more challenging A BRIDGE TOO FAR.<br><br>It is a wonderful film adventure! <br><br>
Biography / Drama
Biography / Drama
This historical drama is an account of the early life of the future British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (), including his childhood, his time as a war correspondent in South Africa during the Second Boer War and culminating in his first election to Parliament.
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